Anthrocon 2017 Summary

This year, Fur Science completed its 8th annual study of Anthrocon attendees. In total, we collected data from 1,042 convention attendees on 424 separate questions, resulting in a database of nearly half a million individual pieces of data. Given the sheer number of possible analyses which could be run, it would be impossible (and overwhelming!) to post the results of every analysis here. In addition, many of the demographic findings were replications of findings observed by our research team in previous years. In the interest of keeping his summary as concise and interesting as possible, we have focused this summary on novel or particularly interesting findings, which will be incorporated into both the International Anthropomorphic Research Project’s website (furryresearch.org) as well as into an updated version of our book “FurScience!” (Available online for free download at: furscience.com). The numbers heading each section correspond to the relevant section of both the IARP website and FurScience book where this new information will ultimately be added.

Since we recognize that most people are unfamiliar with inferential statistics (e.g., t-tests, multiple regression), we have presented only statistically significant results here (unless otherwise specified). If you would like more information about any of the results, including a full output of the statistics themselves, please contact Dr. Courtney “Nuka” Plante (plantec5@macewan.ca).

1.1 Age and Ageism

For years we have been collecting data on the age of members of the furry fandom, and have fairly consistently found that furries tend to be relatively young – that is, in their late teens, early twenties on average. Recently, however, we were asked an excellent question by an inquisitive furry: Because furries tend to be young, do they have negative attitudes about older furries? And, for that matter, do older furries (i.e., greymuzzles) have negative attitudes about younger furries?

To test this, we asked participants a series of questions about their willingness to interact with furries of different age categories (18, 25, 35, and 55 years old) in different contexts (e.g., willingness to talk to, get a ride to a convention with, share a room at a convention with, get advice from, interact online with). We averaged across each context to get an overall score from 0-3 indicating participants’ openness to interacting with furs of that age group (higher scores = more open).

We then divided participants up into three age categories: Under 25, 25-34, and 35+. Below, we show the results for each of the age groups.

Anthrocon 2017 Openness to Different Ages

The results reveal, first and foremost, that furries tend to congregate with furries in the same age range: Younger furries associate most with younger furries and older furries associate most with older furries. By extension, the results also show that younger furries tend to be less willing to interact with older furries and, likewise, older furries tend to be less willing to interact with younger furries.

These data are too preliminary to suggest that some sort of hostile, intentional ageism is going on, and it seems likely that furries simply prefer to congregate with those of a similar age group because they share similar interests (e.g., grew up watching the same shows, got into the fandom at around the same time) and are at similar points in their lives. Future research is needed, however, to test this hypothesis.

1.11 Media / Technology Use

The media landscape is rapidly changing. Whereas 20 years ago people would have said the screen they spend the most time looking at would be a television screen, the proliferation of cellular phones and computers in our day-to-day lives has dramatically changed our media viewing habits. While a great deal of research has assessed the media habits of the average American, far less research has looked at the media habits of those involved in a fandom with a strong online component such as the furry fandom.

To this end, we asked furries to indicate how frequently they engaged in 9 different digital media technologies.

Furries and Media Use

Media Less than Once / Day Once a Day or More More than Once / Hour
Mobile phone (not for messaging or calling) 17.2% 82.8% 50.1%
Facebook or other social networks 25.0% 75.0% 29.4%
Sending / receiving e-mails on any device 32.7% 67.3% 18.6%
Browsing the Internet on any device 5.3% 94.7% 53.2%
TV / Movies on a computer 48.2% 51.8% 21.6%
Text messages on a mobile phone 18.9% 81.1% 43.2%
Interact online with someone you’ve never met in-person 27.5% 72.5% 43.4%
Playing digital games 27.7% 72.3% 38.2%
Watching TV / movies on a TV set 61.5% 38.5% 15.8%
The results suggest that furries spend a great deal of time using Internet-enabled mobile devices for the purpose of texting, browsing the internet, playing games, and using social media. By comparison, furries spend far less time watching television (whether on a television set or on a computer), a trend that opposed what media researchers observed in youth a decade or two ago. Going forward, we hope to compare these results to a demographically comparable group to determine whether these rates are higher among furries due, in part, to the fact that so much of their interaction with the fandom is Internet-based.

1.3 Sex and Gender

As our awareness of sex and gender issues continues to evolve, there has been an accompanying need to improve the way we approach the topic of sex and gender. To this end, we have continually striven to find better ways to meaningfully assess these facets of a person’s identity without unnecessarily constraining participants to dichotomous responses or to responses that ultimately do not fit with their lived experience.

To this end, we have used a new measure to assess this facet of identity that significantly builds upon those used in previous years while avoiding the pitfalls and mistakes we commonly found ourselves running into. While far from the last word on the subject, the present measure does take into account much of the invaluable feedback provided to us by concerned participants from past studies.

Participants were asked to check off which of a number of options they felt described them. They were free to check off as many or as few options as they wished, and were given the option to write in their own option at the end.

 Furry Identification

Category Prevalence
Male 65.7%
Female 20.9%
Transgender (Male to Female) 3.3%
Transgender (Female to Male) 2.6%
Transgender (Gender Nonconforming) 1.0%
Do not identify as Male, Female, or Transgender 0.8%
Non-Binary 3.9%
Genderqueer 3.4%
Genderfluid 6.5%
Agender 2.8%
Other (Please Write) 1.5%
Consistent with past research, the data suggest that self-identified males were more than three times more prevalent in the fandom than self-identified females. Even more fascinating, however, is the fact that the number of transgender furries is, all told, nearly ten times higher than that estimated for the general American population (estimated at 0.6%1). It should also be noted that a considerable proportion of the furry fandom indicates that they do not fall within a traditional binary gender dimension, considers themselves to be genderfluid, or to be without a gender identity altogether.

Later in the study, participants were asked to indicate the extent to which they believed that gender diverse individuals were accepted in the furry fandom. If it were the case that gender diverse individuals were not typically accepted in the furry fandom, we might expect them to indicate that this was the case by disagreeing with the statement more than those who identified with more traditional gender identities, who might be unaware from first-hand experience that this was occurring. The results showed that both groups agreed to the same extent that gender diverse people were well-accepted within the furry fandom (6.22 / 7.00).

2.3 Fandom Activities

Given that the furry fandom encompasses a wide range of activities, including many different subgroups and related fandoms, we decided to ask participants to indicate whether or not they identified with any of a number of other groups commonly affiliated with the furry fandom.

Furry Group Identification

Category Prevalence
Gamer 60.5%
Fursuit Owner 45.1%
Anime Fan 44.5%
Artist 39.9%
Sci-Fi Fan 36.9%
Writer 25.8%
Musician 17.2%
Brony 15.8%
Greymuzzle 8.6%
Therian 6.2%
Military Fur 6.0%
Cub / Babyfur 5.9%
Otherkin 5.4%
Popufur 4.8%
Lycanthrope 4.1%

In line with other findings 2, some of the most prominent interests associated with furries were an interest in anime and science fiction. Most furries also indicated that they were self-identified gamers. A great many furries self-identify as writers and musicians, a finding consistent with our past research on this topic. Surprisingly, nearly half of all participants indicated that they owned a fursuit, a number far higher than that typically found in previous surveys. One possibility is that convention-going furries may have the financial resources to afford a fursuit in a way that online furries cannot. Alternatively, it may also be the case that those with fursuits are particularly drawn to conventions, where they will have the opportunity to display their suits to other furries and to the public, especially at Anthrocon, a convention renowned for its public fursuit parade.

In past studies, we looked into the label of “popufur” to try and better understand the traits associated with furries who self-identify as popufur (e.g., finding that they were significantly more likely to be bullied by other furries). In the present study, we found that those identifying as popufur scored significantly higher on a measure of narcissism than those who did not call themselves popufur (3.29 / 7.00 vs. 2.33 / 7.00). Fursuiters were also more than twice as likely as non-fursuiters (7% vs. 3%) to self-identify as popufur, a difference that was statistically significantly.

2.4 Popular Artists / Websites

In past years, furries were asked to list their favorite artists and/or writers within the furry fandom. However, the wording of this question significantly limited its scope, given that many within the furry fandom create content for the fandom despite not being an artist or a writer (e.g., YouTubers, fursuit builders, fursuiters, convention organizers, musicians, etc.) To address this, we asked participants to list their favorite furry content creators (including YouTubers, suiters, artists, writers, etc.), and allowed them to list as many as they wished.

The result was a list of 1,316 unique creators. Given the extensiveness of this list, we are limiting the table below to the most frequently identified furries in the list. Those sharing the same rank tied in the number of times they were identified by participants.

Most Frequently Identified Furry Creators / Performers

Rank Creator(s) / Performer(s)
1 Telephone
2 Fox Amoore
3 2 the Ranting Gryphon
4 Majira Strawberry
5 Rukis
6 Uncle Kage
7 Kyell Gold, Pepper Coyote
8 Dark Natasha
9 Kenket
10 NIIC
11 Blotch
12 LapFox Trax
13 Pocari, TaniDaReal, Tracy Butler
14 Alkali, Beast Cub, Fjord Frost
15 Marci McAdam, Nos Hyena, Ursula Vernon
16 Mathew Ebel, Rika, Tacklebox
17 Clockwork Creatures, Kacey Miyagami, Mary Mouse, Rick Griffin, Spawts, Zabu the Sergal
18 Blu the Dragon, Bucktown Tiger, h0rs3, Kabier, Meesh, Red Rusker, Tokifuji, Twilight Saint
19 Autumn Falling, Aycee, Booker Fox, Dark Nek0gami, Darkgem, Dreamkeepers, Facerot, Fluff-Kevlar, Furcast, Jasonafex, Kadath, M.C.A. Hogarth, Miles-DF, Paco Panda, Strobes, Zaush
20 Beauty of the Bass, Bri Mercedes, Duke (the Dancing Dog), Gill Panda, Immelmann, Jay Naylor, Kero the Wolf, Michele Light, Mosfet, Sunny D, Thomas Fischbach, Tirrel, Vallhund, Wolfy-Nail

This new list revealed a number of new popular content creators and performers that had not been identified in previous questions, in part due to the restriction in previous lists that the identified furries must be artists or writers. This list reveals the importance of considering fursuiters, musicians, and other performers among those who are influential in their contributions to furry culture.

In addition, we asked furries to indicate which websites they commonly frequented and had an account associated with. Participants generated 129 distinct websites, the most popular of which are displayed below.

Most Frequently Identified Furry-Related Websites

Rank Website
1 FurAffinity
2 Weasyl
3 Inkbunny
4 SoFurry
5 DeviantArt
6 Furry Network
7 Twitter
8 E621
9 Fur Amino
10 Telegram
11 F-List
12 Ferzu
13 Tumblr
14 Facebook
15 FurVilla
16 Pounced
17 Anthrocon Website
18 Instagram
19 Reddit
20 FurBuy

The most popular website by far was FurAffinity, a furry art repository and forum website. In fact, FurAffinity was identified seven times as often as the second most popular website, Weasyl. In fact, 84.6% of participants indicated that they had an account with FurAffinity. Of these participants, 10.3% said that they had two or more accounts on FurAffinity.

2.6 Related Fandom Interests

Given that so many furries have been shown in past studies to have an interest in related fandoms (e.g., Anime, Science Fiction), we assessed whether there were observable trends in furries’ preference for other, non-furry media and activities.

With regard to “other interests”, furries’ interests were categorized into 76 distinct activities. The most popular ones are displayed below.

Most Frequently Identified Non-Furry Interests

Rank Interest Sub-Interest
1 Animation / Cartoons
  1. Anime / Manga
  2. Comics / Webcomics
  3. Pokemon
  4. Disney
2 Video Games
3 TV / Film
  1. My Little Pony
  2. Doctor Who
  3. Steven Universe
  4. Star Trek
  5. Star Wars
  6. Supernatural
  7. Game of Thrones
  8. Lord of the Rings
4 Science Fiction
5 Art
6 Music
7 Tabletop Gaming
8 Athletics / Sports
9 Fantasy
10 Computers/Technology
11 Writing
12 Animals
13 Roleplay / LARPing
14 Science
15 Automobiles
16 Kink / Fetish
17 Books / Reading
18 Crafting
19 Food
20 History

Worth noting in this list is the fact that furries’ alternative interests tend to overlap considerably with other traditionally “geek” interests (e.g., science fiction, video games). Additionally, coinciding with other findings suggesting that furry is, first and foremost, a fandom and not a sexual fetish3, it’s telling that kink and other fetish interests were considerably lower down on the list, being provided by fewer than 5% of participants.

In a similar vein, we asked furries about the genres of television/film and music they tended to prefer, resulting in 39 and 69 distinct categories, respectively.

Most Frequently Identified TV/Film and Music Genres

Rank Film / TV Music
1 Science Fiction Rock
2 Action / Adventure Metal
3 Comedy Pop
4 Fantasy Electronic
5 Horror Alternative
6 Cartoons Classical
7 Drama EDM
8 Anime Techno / House
9 Documentary Punk
10 Suspense / Thriller Indie
11 Mystery Hip-Hop
12 Crime Folk
13 Biography / History Soundtracks
14 Romantic Comedy Rap
15 Comic / Superhero Jazz

2.14 Spending in the Furry Fandom

In recent years, there has been a growing interest among vendors, convention organizers, and those marketing products to furries in the spending habits of furries. In light of this, we asked participants to estimate how much money they had spent in the past 12 months on a number of different furry-related categories. The results are provided below in US dollars, both as average and median values. Given that the data were skewed by a small number of participants who had spent significantly more money than most furries, both the mean (average) and median (“middle value”, unaffected by extreme scores) values are displayed.

In the last 12 months, how much money have you spent on furry…

Item Mean Median
Physical art / commissions $113.46 $16.50
Digital art / commissions $175.11 $40.00
Erotic content $78.00 $0.00
Online sponsor pages

 (e.g., Patreon)

$55.48 $0.00
Conventions $1007.30 $540.00
Paraphernalia (e.g., ears, tails) $440.91 $50.00

An important caveat when interpreting these responses is that they were taken from participants who were attending a furry convention. As such, it is conceivable that they have a greater amount of expendable income (or are more willing to spend money on furry-related activities) than non-convention-going furries. In future studies, we will assess these same measures among a broader, online sample of furries for comparison.

It is also worth noting that furries spend considerably more money on digital artwork than on physical artwork, a trend consistent with anecdotal evidence provided by artists during artist-themed focus groups in previous studies. When looking both at median and mean values, it would seem that most of the money furries spend on artwork does not appear to be on erotic-themed content. It also seems that most furries do not use subscription services such as Patreon to support artists. Finally, it seems that conventions and furry-related paraphernalia make up the bulk of furry purchases – hardly surprising given the expenses associated with both traveling to a convention and with big-ticket items like fursuits.

2.8 Fursuits

Building upon prior research investigating the differences between furries who own / wear fursuits and those who do not, we tested a number of additional hypotheses. Taken together, the results suggest that while there are some observable differences between fursuiters and non-fursuiters within the furry fandom, it is just as remarkable how many things do not differ between the two groups.

For example, fursuiters and non-fursuiters do not appear to differ dramatically with regard to the nature of their fursonas: Their fursonas are comparable in the ratio of predator / prey species chosen and are just as likely to represent one’s ideal self and are, in both cases, not frequently used for escapist purposes. Fursuiters are no more likely to be narcissistic, Machiavellian (socially manipulative), empathic, or entitled. Finally, they are comparable to non-fursuiters with regard to their use of fantasy in maladaptive ways – that is, both groups tend to rarely engage in fantasy in a pathological / dysfunctional manner.

That said, there are some notable differences between fursuiters and non-fursuiters. Fursuiters are twice as likely as non-suiters to self-identify as female, for example (28% vs. 14%). They also tend to score higher on measures of being a fan of furries (5.69 / 7.00 vs. 5.43 / 7.00) and feeling a sense of community with other furries (5.86 / 7.00 vs. 5.60 / 7.00). They identify more strongly with their fursonas (5.92 / 7.00 vs. 5.71 / 7.00) and with animals (5.53 / 7.00 vs. 5.31 / 7.00). Finally, while fursuiters are no more likely to engage in pathological fantasy activities than non-fursuiters, fursuiters aremore likely to engage in healthy fantasy activities (e.g., using fantasy for creativity, self-expression, 6.02 / 7.00 vs. 5.71 / 7.00).

3.12 Fursona as Ideal Self

Previous research on fursonas has shown that having a fursona which represents one’s ideal self tends to be associated with better overall well-being. Building on this idea, we tested whether there were other factors associated with the extent to which one’s fursona represented their ideal self (as opposed to representing some unlikable facet of oneself, or being unrelated at all to who you are).

Furries who said their fursonas represented their ideal selves were less likely to show negative attitudes toward newer furries in the fandom (e.g., “New people coming into the fandom are changing it for the worse”). One possibility for this is that these furries feel secure in their attachment to the fandom and, as such, feel less need to berate or belittle incoming members of the fandom – although this remains to be seen in future research. Related to this idea, furries with idealized fursonas are also more likely to strongly identify with the fandom as a whole, though they are no more likely to identify more strongly as a furry themselves. In other words, they’re no more furry than others, but they identify more strongly with the community as a whole – which could explain why they are less likely to berate newer members of the fandom than other furries.

One measure included in the study assessed the extent to which furries tended to “offload” bad events or behaviour onto their fursonas – that is, to blame their “fursona” selves for negative things that happen to them (e.g., social awkwardness is your “fursona” side spilling out). Those who idealize their fursonas are less likely to blame their fursonas for negative events happening to them, and are more likely to take personal responsibility for such events. In a similar vein, furries whose fursonas represent their ideal selves are also more socially confident and less insecure than those whose fursonas do not represent their ideal selves.

Finally, in line with previous findings, furries whose fursonas represent their ideal selves were, once again, shown to have better psychological and social well-being – they were happier with themselves and had more satisfaction with their current relationships. In short – there is ample evidence suggesting that having a fursona whose traits represent an ideal you’re striving toward tends to be a sign of better well-being. The direction of this causation remains to be seen in future research, however, such as Fur Science’s ongoing Furry Longitudinal Study.

3.2 Predator / Prey Distinction

In earlier studies, we tested the hypothesis that furries who chose predator species for their fursonas would be more likely to bully, harass, or otherwise pick on those who chose prey species for their fursonas. These results found little evidence that this was the case. In the present study, we built upon these studies both by assessing predator / prey identification using an existing psychological scale (developed for use in non-furry samples). We also assessed other variables associated with a predator / prey mentality, including aggression, empathy, and Machiavellianism (social manipulativeness).

Like with earlier studies, whether a person’s fursona species was described as being a predator or prey species had little bearing on the measures of interest, though there was a weak effect with regard to empathy: People with predator fursonas were slightly less likely to show empathy toward others than those with prey fursonas. With regard to aggression and Machiavellianism, however, there were no differences.

More interesting, however, were the results of the psychological scale of predator / prey identification. The scale, called the RAPT4, was designed for use in the general population: People are asked to indicate which of several pairs of animals they identify more with, one of which is always a predator and one of which is always a prey species (e.g., Snake / Rat, Hawk / Rabbit, etc.). In the authors’ original studies, they found that people who tended to choose predator species were more likely to be aggressive and score higher on measures of psychopathy. These, however, were not furries, and there is little reason to believe that they actually “identified” with these species.

So what happened when we gave this scale to furries? We found similar results to those of the scale’s original authors: While one’s fursona species’ predator/prey status didn’t predict aggression or Machiavellianism, participants’ scores on the RAPT did: furries who identified more with predator species scored higher on measures of aggression and Machivellianism. They also tended to score lower on measures of empathy.

Going forward, we plan to do further studies aimed at trying to better understand these patterns of results: why one’s fursona species wouldn’t predict measures of predation, but identifying with a handful of different predator species does. One possibility we’ll be exploring is whether it’s due to the fact that there are a myriad of reasons why a person can choose their particular fursona species. Wolves, for example, may be chosen because they are a predator species, but they could also be chosen as one’s fursona because they constitute a pack animal, or because they are so commonly used in storytelling. Future research will investigate this, and other possible explanations for these differences in results.

5.1 Sexual Orientation

Given that only about 20-30% of furries self-identify as exclusively or predominantly heterosexual, it may be possible that they construe themselves as a minority within the furry fandom (in fact, this is not the case, as they still make up the single-largest sexual orientation group within the fandom). Nevertheless, anecdotal evidence suggests that some heterosexual furries may feel stigmatized or ostracized within the furry fandom as a result of this minority status. Alternatively, it may also be the case that members of other traditionally minority sexual orientations (e.g., lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer persons) may nevertheless feel stigmatized within the fandom because they, too, constitute minorities within the fandom.

To test both of these possibilities, we asked furries whether they believed that straight and LGBQ people were accepted within the furry fandom (as separate questions). In line with our asking of an analogous question about gender diverse people within the fandom (see 1.3), we then compared the responses of straight and LGBQ participants to these questions. Analyses revealed that the two groups did not differ with regard to either question: both groups strongly agreed that both straight and LGBQ persons were accepted within the furry fandom, although both groups did more strongly agree with this notion with regard to LGBQ people (6.48 / 7.00) as compared to straight people (6.14 / 7.00).

In short, evidence suggests that, in general, people are accepted in the furry fandom regardless of their sexual orientation. This is perhaps most true of members of the LGBQ community, who seem to be the most strongly accepted members of the fandom.

9.4 Fandom vs. Fanship

In prior work, researchers have made the distinction between fanship (being a fan of something) and fandom (being a member of a fan community). Our research on fandom and fanship has, in past studies, shown that the extent to which furries are both fans of furry content and members of the furry community can differently predict variables of interest to researchers. To this end, we extended these prior findings by looking at new variables.

One such variable assessed the extent to which furries indicated that being a furry was the strongest interest they had (as compared to other fan interests). In this case, higher fanship scores predicted greater agreement with this item – that furry was your strongest interest. While fandom scores showed a similar trend, the relationship was much weaker – being a member of the fan community was far less strongly associated with furry being one’s biggest (or only) fan interest.

The differences between fandom and fanship were even more pronounced when it came to attitudes toward new members of the fandom. Fanship was associated with more negative attitudes toward new fans – disparaging them for being new and declaring them to be the source of problems within the fandom, for example. In contrast, higher fandom scores predicted just the opposite – a strong reduction in negative attitudes toward new fans. In other words, those whose interest in furry is predominantly driven by an interest in the furry community are more welcome and accepting of newer members. Perhaps not surprising, fandom scores were also similarly associated with an increase in empathy toward others. Those who consider themselves to be “more furry” than others, on the other hand, are more elitist and tend to be opposed to newer members within the fandom, and are not more likely to have empathy toward others.

One way in which fandom and fanship scores did not differ was with regard to spending habits: Both fandom and fanship scores were associated with participants’ estimated likelihood of spending $250 in the next year on their furry-related interest. In other words, whether one is a furry because they are passionate about their interest in furry-themed media or whether they are drawn primarily to the sense of community provided by the fandom has little effect on their willingness to spend money on furry-related activities. It may prove telling, in future studies, to see whether these two measures differ in the extent to which they predict different spending habits (e.g., spending to attend social events versus spending to acquire furry-themed merchandise).

References

  1. Williams Institute, Flores et al., 2016, “How Many Adults Identify as Transgender in the United States
  2. See 2.6 Related Fandom Interests
  3. See sections 5.4 Frequency of Porn Use; 5.7 Preference for Erotic Furry Media
  4. For other uses of the Revised Animal Preference Test, see Of Tooth and Claw: Predator Self-Identifications Mediate Gender Differences in Interpersonal Arrogance; Which Animal Would You Be? Predator Self-Identification as A Predictor of Psychopathy