Given that fursonas are generally thought of as “idealized” versions of the self,1 and given that some traits associated with predators (e.g., assertiveness, strength) may be desirable, we were interested in testing whether furries were more likely to choose predator species over prey species for their fursonas. Rather than classifying the species ourselves, we asked participants to indicate whether they considered their fursona species to be a predator, prey, both, or neither. The results are presented in the table below.2
Classification of Fursona Species as Predator or Prey
Building on previous studies, we used an existing psychological scale used to assess predator / prey identification 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)6.
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 RAPT7, 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.
- See 3.12 Fursona as Ideal Self
- International Furry Survey: Summer 2011
- See 3.10 Fursona Personality
- Furry Fiesta 2016 Study
- See 10.3 Bullying
- Anthrocon 2017 Study
- 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