5.9 Porn Perception

Because of the stigma experienced by furries from non-furries around them, it’s possible that furries expect non-furries to disapprove of furry content, particularly erotic furry content. This would lead one to hypothesize that non-furries would rate furry-themed erotica more pornographic (explicit) than furries, due to considering it to be more deviant or inappropriate. To test this hypothesis, we had furries and non-furries rate furry and non-furry themed pornographic images in a computer-based study.1 Participants viewed both furry and non-furry images that were either “clean,” mildly erotic (e.g., nude characters), or explicit (sexual intercourse). Images were balanced to include an equal number of heterosexual and homosexual images, as well as an equal number of male and female characters. Participants were asked, for each image in the set, to rate how “pornographic” the image was.

5-9 perception of pornography by sample

Furries rated the erotic furry images as being significantly more pornographic than non-furries did, with the opposite pattern of results for non-furry erotic images. The effect was even stronger when it came to explicit images, where furries called the explicit images significantly more pornographic than non-furries did. The groups did not significantly differ when it came to categorizing explicit non-furry images.

In the same study, furry and non-furry participants were also asked to rate how positive they felt about the images, and to estimate how positively the other group felt about the images. The figure below shows how furries felt toward the images (blue bars), and how non-furries estimated that furries would feel toward the images. Given that the orange bars are all lower than the blue bars, non-furries underestimated how positively furries actually felt about the erotic and explicit material (in contrast to the fears of many furries that non-furries assume them to be sexual deviants and perverts). Non-furries correctly inferred that furries would be preferentially positive toward furry artwork compared to non-furry artwork (as indicated by the “furry” bars being higher than the “non-furry” bars).

5-9 actual and estimated rating of images by sample

A near-perfect reversal of the above phenomenon happens in the figure below,2 which shows how non-furries responded to the images and how furries predicted that the non-furries would respond. Of greatest importance in this figures are “Erotic Furry” and “Explicit Furry” categories, where we see evidence of furries’ expectation of non-furry disapproval: furries significantly underestimated how positively non-furries would feel toward furry images. Moreover, furries overestimated the extent to which non-furries would feel positively toward non-furry material (though, like non-furries, furries did get the pattern correct, where non-furries preferred non-furry art to furry art). Taken together, the data suggest that furries overestimate how negatively non-furries perceive the furry fandom and its content. While non-furries certainly show greater preference for non-furry pornography as compared to furry pornography, the anticipated revulsion toward furry artwork that many furries anticipate from non-furries seems to be overblown.

5-9 estimated attitude of nonfurries toward pornographic images

In short, the primary difference between furries and non-furries in the study seems to be that non-furries were not seeing erotic and explicit furry content as being pornographic to the same extent that furries were. Follow-up analyses suggest that this effect was driven predominantly by arousal. Put simply: if participants found the material arousing, they considered it pornographic. Since non-furries did not find the non-furry artwork as arousing as furries did, they did not consider it to be as pornographic as furries did. Unexpectedly, furries also rated fursuit pictures (non-erotic) as more pornographic than non-furries did, though it’s worth noting that the average score for furries on this measure was 1.2 out of 7, suggesting that, generally speaking, furries do not find fursuits, in and of themselves, to be particularly pornographic.3

References

  1. Furry Fiesta 2015
  2. Furry Fiesta 2015
  3. Furry Fiesta 2015

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