Survey suggests furries 'think differently', but aren't crazy
Recently published survey results suggest there is "little relationship between furries and clinical diagnoses of psychological dysfunction". However, those identifying more strongly as furries tended to report "particularly active, vivid and magical mental worlds", and furries (at ~4%) were "at least 2.25 times more likely to have Asperger's Syndrome" than the general population, even after controlling for different sex ratios.
Being furry was not associated with anxiety disorders or medical conditions; indeed, it was "marginally associated with psychological and relationship well-being" (B=.062-3, p=.083-.079). Furries identifying as therians did not differ from non-therian furries on measurements of most psychological conditions, well-being or health, but differed in several cognitive factors, and were more likely to have been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder (B=.099, p=.008).
The survey was conducted at Anthrocon 2013 by the Anthropomorphic Research Project. Researchers gave 820 adult participants questions that "assessed symptoms frequently associated with clinical lycanthropy, as well as numerous scales which assessed various indicators of physical and psychological well-being", with the goal of "understanding why the furry fandom is so frequently associated with dysfunction in popular culture and lay theory".
Strength of association with furry identity had a clear but small relationship to Asperger's (B=.083, p=.023); it may also have a slight relationship to ADHD (B=.062, p=.090), but overall levels for furries were not unusual. Conversely, strong identification as a furry meant slightly less chance of a diagnosis of depression or bipolar disorder (B=-.091, p=.013); 16.1% reported such disorders, compared to 17% in the general population.
The more a participant identified as furry, the more they were likely to possess magical beliefs and ideation (B=.139, p<.001), and to report heightened senses, cognitive abilities, emotions, understanding, or feelings of significance in the world and surrounding events (B=.182, p<.001).
Those identifying more strongly as furries were also more likely to report vivid thoughts or mental images (B=.169, p<.001) or to have experienced hallucinations (B=.157, p<.001). However, the extent of furry identification had no relation to therianthropic shifting. 37.3% of furs reported having ever used psychotropic medication, a level believed normal by the ARP.
Furry therians (8% of sample) were more likely to report shifts in mental state than non-therian furs, as well as magical thinking; vivid mental events; strong feelings of significance, perceptions of understanding, or heightened senses and emotions (all p<.001); and hallucinations (p=.001). They had a less clear concept of identity than other furries (p=.008), but were not more likely to have a diagnosis of ADHD, mood disorders, or Asperger's, nor to have been on psychotropics.
Past results on: Furry pornography use, fantasy engagement and politics; the prevalence/acceptance of bronies; fursonas, therians, non-furs and artists; furry gender, sexuality, and comparisons to therians and otherkin; and empathy, social desirability, furry identity and orientation.