There is a tendency for people to moralize statistical deviance, to assume that those who are different are morally wrong or dysfunctional. It serves a number of protective functions for people, including preserving self-esteem and maintaining a positive self-image in the face of others whose views may be challenging or contrary to one’s own. Because of this, however, there is a tendency for people (furries and non-furries alike) to assume that there is “something wrong” with furries, something reflected in media portrayals and negative stereotypes about furries,[tagcite tags=10.2] which insist that furries, as a group, need to be explained. Some seek psychological explanations, suggesting that furries may be people with developmental problems or psychological conditions. Others assume situational explanations such as a broken childhood or a tumultuous, friendless, socially awkward childhood. After all, most furries have experienced significant bullying,[tagcite tags=10.3] and abundant psychological evidence shows that bullying, stigma, and concealed stigmatized identities can be particularly damaging to a person’s well-being. One would therefore expect furries to show evidence of significantly compromised well-being.
Data collected on the well-being of furries suggests otherwise, however. Across several samples, furries and non-furries did not significantly differ from one another on measures of life satisfaction and self-esteem.[tagcite tags=W11-S11-AC12] Furries did not differ with regard to their physical health, psychological health, or the quality of their relationships, and were actually more likely to have a stable and coherent sense of identity than non-furries.[tagcite tags=AC12]
The well-being of furries was also compared across fandoms (see figures above and below.)[tagcite tags=F3] Furries did not differ significantly from convention-going anime fans or fantasy sport fans, and were actually higher in life satisfaction and self-esteem than online anime fans, all groups which experience less stigma than furries do.[tagcite tags=10.2]
Taken together, these data, in conjunction with the rest of the data in Section 11, demonstrate that furries, contrary to popular misconceptions, are surprisingly well-adjusted. It’s worth noting that this lack of difference in well-being occurs despite the fact that most furries have a history of significant bullying. One possible explanation for this is the ameliorating role of the fandom: given that belongingness and acceptance are both important values in the furry fandom,[tagcite tags=2.10] as is compassion, helping, and global citizenship,[tagcite tags=1.9] for many furries, the fandom is a source of social support. Social psychologists have long recognized the important role that social support plays in building resilience and fostering well-being, and future studies are planned to test whether this mechanism explains furries’ tendency to thrive despite often enduring significant hardship.