Because many furries have, in interviews, focus groups, and on surveys, described the fandom as a source of social support and assistance1 we conducted a study aimed at testing the nature of this support. In particular, we asked furries about the extent to which they had asked for, received, and been asked for help in the furry fandom on a 5-point scale (1 – Never, 5 – Frequently.)2 Results revealed, first and foremost, that while furries do ask for and occasionally receive financial and practical help from other furries (e.g., help paying rent, help finding a place to live), the most common form of help that furries seek and receive from the fandom is psychological help: advice, guidance, or emotional support (see figure below). What’s more—when furries ask for help, they’re more likely to turn to specific others within the fandom, rather than to request help from the community as a whole.
In the same study, we were interested in the factors that predicted whether furries would request help from, and give help to, other furries. Furries were more likely to ask other furries for help if they had been significantly bullied, if they believed that furries are “all in this together” (that is, what happens to the furry community affects all furries), and, most strongly, if they had given help to other furries in the past. Factors predicting the extent to which furries gave help to other furries included age (older furries may have resources or knowledge to help younger furries), feelings of compassion, and whether they, themselves, had asked for help in the past. Put another way, the furry fandom may represent, for many furries, a form of reciprocal altruism: you help me when you’re able to, and I’ll help you when I can.