Given that many conventions include meet-ups based on fursona species (e.g., wolf or feline meet-ups), and given that we, as researchers, had overheard comments about interacting with members of different fursona species (e.g., “ugh, he’s a fox, you know what they’re like”), we wanted to test the hypotheses about fursonas and social judgment.
First, we tested whether furries believed that another furry’s fursona species would affect their decision to interact with that person.1 This involved asking furries, on a 10-point scale, how much they agreed or disagreed that a person’s fursona species could influence how well they expected to get along with that person (1 = disagree to 10 = agree). The results suggest that furries largely disagreed with this statement (M = 3.15). Therians, despite identifying more deeply with their species, might be expected to consider another person’s species in this context, but they did not differ significantly from furries.
These results were replicated and extended in a second study (blue bars in the figure above.2 In addition to asking furries whether another’s fursona would influence how well they expected to get along with a person, we also asked furries whether they believed that a fursona species could tell you anything about a person. Indeed, many furries believed that a person’s fursona species could tell you a lot about them, and, in fact, the more a furry thought their own fursona species was informative, the more they believed that others’ fursonas species were similarly informative. Finally, we found that furries who more strongly believed that their fursona species was informative were more likely to say that someone else’s fursona would influence how well they expected to get along with them.
In another study,3 we asked more specific questions about the extent to which fursona species would influence furries’ beliefs about, and behavior toward, other furries. Agreement was rated on a 1-7 scale (1 = Strongly Disagree, 7 = Strongly Agree). Average scores revealed that:
- Furries largely disagree that furries with certain fursonas (e.g, prey) are expected to act a certain way in-person or online (Average score = 2.60)
- Furries also disagree, however, with the statement that furries are never picked on because of their fursona species (Average score = 2.98), suggesting that while furries acknowledge that this happens in the fandom, they large disagree with it occurring.
- Furries somewhat disagree with the idea that individual furries chose the fursona species they do because they want to be treated a certain way (Average score = 3.63).
- Furries don’t seem to make much about how popular or unpopular a particular fursona species is; they disagree both with the idea that choosing an unpopular species means that you’re trying to make a statement about yourself (Average score = 3.46) and disagree with the idea that choosing a popular species means that you lack creativity (Average score = 2.34).
- Furry Fiesta 2012 and International Online Survey III
- 2013 Fursona Survey
- Anthrocon 2016 Study