ARP survey finds nearly 1 in 4 furs identify as bronies
Many findings revolved around the involvement of bronies in furry fandom:
- The 23.5% of furries also identifying as bronies did not significantly differ from other furries in most respects; they reported greater experience of bullying, slightly worse physical health, and appeared to have a slightly less-formed sense of identity
- Bronies in furry fandom had been part of the fandom for longer than the average fur
- Furries who thought bronies were also furries had a higher opinion of them; some furs dismissed them as obnoxious, a fad, or immature, or had problems with specific bronies
In addition, the larger non-furry sample made it possible to make several general findings:
- Furries tend to be more liberal and 'global citizens' than non-furs; most are not religious
- Furries know more about animals ... but could occasionally be over-confident about it
- Furries were three times less likely to consider themselves exclusively heterosexual than non-furries, four to five times more likely to say they were exclusively homosexual, and far more likely to report bisexuality or orientations such as pansexuality or asexuality
- Furries reported a greater history of physical and verbal bullying than non-furries
- Furries did not differ significantly to American non-furs with regard to psychological or relationship health, or self-esteem, but had a more-developed sense of self and identity
The analysis also refined earlier findings about therians, identified popular furry websites and artists, and introduced a scale to distinguish between "healthy fantasy engagement" (which furs had significantly more of than non-furs) and "unhealthy fantasy" (which they did not).
Bronies in furry fandom; prevalence, acceptance and distinctiveness
Views of bronies among furry fans differed significantly. On a 0-100 scale, just over 20% of non-brony furries rated bronies 0-20 (most of those 0), with most others giving neutral or mildly positive ratings. Conversely, of the 23.5% of furries who identify as bronies themselves, fewer than 5% gave negative ratings; about 25% felt neutrally about their fellows, and the rest were positive (with 45% in the top quintile).
Those who didn't like bronies gave a variety of reasons; 17.4% thought them obnoxious, while others felt they were just not the same of furries (15.0%), had a general dislike for them (13.0%), disliked specific bronies rather than the culture (12.3%), or felt MLP was unimaginative/a fad/shallow/one-dimensional (11.9%) or silly/dumb/immature (11.5%).
Crucially, furries differed as to whether bronies were part of furry fandom to begin with – 50% saw bronies as part of/a subset of furry, while 22% claimed no overlap between the groups. According to the research team:
[...] regression analysis revealed a significant positive relationship between the extent to which a person considered bronies to be a part of the furry fandom and the positivity they felt toward bronies (Beta = .28, p < .001)
The popular theory that bronies are "new furries" was not proven; the average brony reported having been a furry for longer than non-bronies (9.4 vs. 8.3, p=.03) and having become a furry at a younger age (16.4 vs. 17.4, p=.03).
Researchers found only a few differences between furries identifying as bronies and those who did not:
- slightly worse physical health than furry non-bronies, 4.60 v.s. 4.86 on a seven point scale, p=.005)
- a slightly less-formed sense of identity (4.22 vs. 4.32 on a six point scale, p=.05), and
- greater reported experience of bullying (2.85 vs. 2.71 on a four point scale, p=.04)
The latter was reported most prominently during age 19-24. The research team suggested that this was due to self-identification as bronies.
Furry bronies were not significantly different to non-bronies in age or sex, or in their identification as a furry, with other furries, or with their fursona species. They were not more likely to think that they were "more than 100% human", or to want to be "0% human". In addition:
Furries and bronies held the furry community in equally high regard. They were also equally likely to consider their fursonas to be representative of themselves. [...] there were no differences in sexual orientation, relationship status, relationship satisfaction or education level [...] Finally, furries and bronies did not differ in terms of their psychological well-being or self-esteem.
These results may not represent bronies outside of furry fandom; in the Brony Study, 84% of bronies described themselves as heterosexual.
Sexual orientation, fantasy, bullying and mental health
Furries are far less likely to report being "exclusively heterosexual" than non-furries (~25% vs. 80%), though it was still the most popular choice on the Kinsey scale. They are four to five times more likely to consider themselves exclusively homosexual (~14% vs. 3%), are much more likely to report a level of bisexuality, and are more than six times as likely to report "other" orientations, such as pansexual or asexual (15.0% vs. 2.4%).
On a custom scale distinguishing functional vs. pathological fantasy, identification with furry fandom predicted "healthy fantasy engagement" (5.40 vs. 4.56 on a 7-point scale, p<.001), but not pathological fantasy (2.62 vs. 2.44, p>.05). Functional fantasy was:
[...] associated with a healthier and more developed sense of stable identity, more psychological well-being and a greater sense of global citizenship [...] decreased pathological fantasy is associated with healthier relationships and higher self-esteem.
Researcher Courtney "Nuka" Plante, who developed the scale, expressed the intention to use it to evaluate other fantasy-related groups.
Increased furry involvement also predicted "greater perspective-taking and empathy", echoing results from 2009.
Furries were more likely than non-furs to report experiencing physical and social/verbal bullying (both p<.001); especially while age 11-18, when a majority reported being bullied. Bullying as a factor in development of identity and engagement in furry fandom as ameliorating effect is to be a subject of future research.
Furries did not differ significantly from "the average American" on measures of self-esteem, psychological health or the health of their relationships. However, they did differ when it came to well-being and adjustment; furries "had a better sense of coherent identity and a more-developed sense of self" (4.31 vs. 4.15 on a six point scale; p<.001).
Furry therians and their animal connections
Therians were identified as those who "experience a deeply-felt connection to an animal species"; about one in five of furries claimed to be one. The vast majority of therians surveyed [in the context of a furry survey] also identified as furries, and 20-40% also self-identified as otherkin.
The difference between furries generally and therians is clearest when looking at beliefs/desires relating to their level of humanity:
Therians are about two and a half times more likely than furries to consider themselves less than 100% human (both physically and mentally), and about one and a half times as likely to report wanting to be 0% human if they could.
Theirans appear indistinguishable to furries with respect to psychological well-being, self-esteem, identity, physical health or fantasy measures, but have different beliefs with respect to their species, feeling that it is a deeper part of their being with which they more strongly identify. Therians are also less likely than the average fur to describe their interest in anthropomorphism and their associated species as a choice.
Religion and spirituality, social responsibility, general demographics and animal trivia
Many furries denied any religious affiliation, with a mean score of 2.51 on a seven-point scale (1="not at all", 7="very much"). A full 44% described themselves as atheist, and another 9-10% agnostic, with just 23% reporting themselves as Christian. Furries were more likely to report general spiritual feelings, but even here the mean response was just over the mid-point of the scale (4.09).
Furries made $31,772 a year on average – not statistically different to non-furs – and had a level of parental education "approximately equivalent" to that of the control group.
Furries were more liberal-minded than non-furries (5.04 vs. 4.59 on a seven-point scale), and more inclined to act as "global citizens" (5.16 vs. 4.98; both p<.001) - a mixture of social responsibility, competence in global matters, and global civic engagement.
Furries are still predominantly male, and do not appear to be reproducing yet; just 3.8% reported at least one child. Convention-going furs were older than furs surveyed online.
|Popular websites||Popular artists|
|Funday PawPet Show||Rukis|
|Bad Dragon||Kyell Gold|
In general, subjects reported having been a furry for between 6.5-8.5 years, typically deciding that they were one between age 16-17. Initial community participation tended to be around 17-19.
Identifying as a furry and with ones fursona species were highly correlated. Identifying with other furries is slightly less related to both of these factors – especially when it comes to species – and overall furs seem slightly more reluctant to identify 100% with other furries.
Furries were three to six times more likely to believe they are "less than 100% human" (30-35%; but only 8-14% of this subset felt physically less human) or "human with additions". Between a third and a half would be "0% human" if they could – five times more than non-furries.
Furries beat non-furs on a 33-item animal trivia quiz in which a right answer scored one point, a wrong answer deducted one point, and a pass had no effect (mean 11.5 vs. 8.9, t(1666) = 8.02, p=.001). Furries triumphed on 22 questions, but overconfidence caused lower results on three which few non-furs attempted. A planned longitudinal study may identify whether fandom participation increases animal knowledge, or whether those with greater knowledge are drawn to the fandom.
See also: Furries vs. fursonas, therians, non-furs & artists; furries, therians, and otherkin
Bonus: Nuka suggests why bronies (and furry fandom) exist, and why other commonly-proposed 'reasons' are wrong.