One of the first questions we ask in any of our studies is the age of the participant. The purpose of this is two-fold: first, age can be an important variable, predicting a number of physical, psychological, and social outcomes. Second, due to ethical restrictions, the IARP is unable to study minors (as parental consent would be required, something we cannot reasonably expect to obtain if a person has not “come out” to their family as a furry).
Average Age (Years) of Furry Participants
As the table above and figure below shows, furries tend to be relatively young, with the majority of adult furries (over the age of 18) being in their early-to-mid-twenties, and nearly 75% of furries being under the age of 25. 🐾 Convention-going furries tend to be, on average, a bit older than furries in our online samples. This, we believe, is due to the fact that conventions can be expensive to attend (e.g., travel costs, hotel), requiring a level of expendable income and long-distance transportation more available to those with stable careers, who are more likely to be in their mid-twenties than their late teens and early twenties.
The term “greymuzzle” is sometimes used by furries who have been in the fandom for significantly longer (12.3 years vs. 6.2 years, on average) or who are older than the average furry (e.g., 42.2 years old, on average). Approximately 9% of furries self-identify as greymuzzles.🐾 They are comparable to other furries in most regards, not differing in their well-being or in their identification with the furry fandom. Greymuzzles do differ on a few variables:
a. On average, it took greymuzzles much longer to discover the furry fandom after developing furry interests (9.5 years vs. 4.6 years), likely a product of internet accessibility.
b. Greymuzzles are 3-4 times more likely to self-identify as therian.
c. Greymuzzles are less likely to have an interest in roleplaying activities.🐾
The IARP is currently investigating the reason for a significant drop in the age of furries, particularly after the early 20s. One possibility is that, as people age, factors such as families and careers may reduce the amount of time people can devote to their hobbies. Alternatively, it may be the case that as furries spend time in the furry fandom, they form close friendships and, after a while, find themselves interacting with those friends outside of furry contexts.
In addition to assessing actual age, the IARP has also studied subjective age—the extent to which furries feel younger or older than they actually are. As illustrated in the figure below, the “peak” of subjective (felt) age is younger than that of objective (actual) age. 10% to 15% of furries identify their felt age as being under the age of 18, while comparatively fewer identify a subjective age older than 40. The average actual age of furries is significantly higher than the average subjective age of the same furries (28.0 years vs. 25.3 years), about 6.9% higher on average.🐾
Across samples, the majority of furries have been consistently been found to self-identify as White, with approximately 15-20% of furries identifying as a member of an ethnic minority.🐾 One caveat should be noted, however: the majority of these studies were conducted at North American conventions or, when online, were conducted in English, which may account, at least in part, for these results.
Ethnicity of Furry Participants
|Ethnicity||% of Sample|
|First Nations/Native American||0.6|
In the social sciences, sex and gender are recognized as distinct concepts. Sex refers to a person’s genetics (e.g., XX, XY, XO, XXY chromosomes), whereas gender, which is socially constructed, refers to aspects of a person’s psychology (e.g., behaviour, self-perception). While a person’s gender identity is congruent with their sex in many cases (cis-gender), it is possible for their gender identity to differ from their sex (transgender), or to fluctuate fluidly over time. Because of this, the IARP has begun assessing sex and gender independent of one another.
Sex and Gender of Furries
|Category (Choose all that apply)||% of Furries|
Interestingly another study of furries🐾 revealed that those furries assigned female at birth were more than twice as likely to identify as transgender (5.5%) and genderqueer or non-binary (18.9%) than furries assigned male at birth (2.1% and 4.1% respectively). The reason for this considerable difference is not yet known, and likely to be a topic for future research.
Research on transgender and genderqueer people within the furry fandom also corroborates findings from the broader psychological research on these populations as well. Studies suggest, for example, that transgender people are at a significantly greater risk for suicide and are more likely to experience significant stress and anxiety. These numbers are also reflected in samples of furries, where transgender and genderqueer furries are also significantly more likely to have reduced psychological well-being and experience significantly greater difficulty developing a positive, distinct, mature identity.🐾 While we hypothesize that transgender and genderqueer furries may be doing better than those outside the fandom, it remains for future studies to test these hypotheses.
The trends in the figure below have been observed consistently across a number of samples of furries,🐾 and show that more than 75% of furries have taken at least some post-secondary education.
26.8% of furries said that they had completed at least one degree.🐾 Furries who had completed post-secondary education were also asked to indicate what area/field they had specialized in. 24.2% of furries had taken “fine art” degrees (e.g., design, graphics, writing), while 27.9% of furries chose fields that directly involved computers (e.g., computer graphics, computing science, information technology, computer engineering). 11.9% of furries pursued a science degree (e.g., biology, chemistry, physics) and 11.9% an engineering degree.🐾 Furries’ level of education did not differ significantly from the level of education obtained by the comparable anime fandom.🐾
Other data corroborate the argument that furries, as a group, tend to be well-educated. For example, in a recent study,🐾 more than 40% of furries indicated that they had an A-range average in their most recent education (see figure below).
On average, furries earn an annual income that does not differ significantly from that of a sample of the general American population (furries: $31,772 USD, non-furries: $31,470 USD).🐾 When broken down by income bracket, the data in the figure below illustrate that more than half of furries earned less than $30,000 USD per year, and about 6% of furries had no annual income at all. To compare, 7.5% of furries earned more than $75,000 USD per year.🐾 These particular samples are based on Anthrocon attendees, who presumably had the resources to attend a convention (which usually includes, travel, hotel, and admission costs), meaning furries who were unable to attend the con for financial reasons were not represented (and, to date, we do not have income information of a non-convention sample of furries). As such, it is likely that the number of low-income furries is higher than what is shown here, due, in no small part, to the fact that many furries are in college and are, as a group, relatively young. In future studies we plan to compare the income of convention-going furries with that of online furry samples, with an interest in testing the possible restricting impact that income may have on convention attendance and other forms of fandom participation (e.g., purchasing a fursuit, going to local meet-ups).
Other studies have looked beyond objective income to assess participants’ subjective income level. Furries were shown a picture of a ladder with 10 rungs and asked to indicate which of the rungs best represented their financial standing relative to others in their culture. Being higher on the ladder indicated doing better off than most people in one’s culture, whereas being lower on the ladder indicated that one felt worse off than most people in their culture. Furries, as a group, indicated that they felt lower than the midpoint on this scale,🐾 suggesting that, earned income levels aside, many furries consider themselves to be worse off financially others in their society.
As illustrated in the table below, more than half of the furry fandom works either part time or full time, while nearly half reports attending post-secondary school at least part-time. Approximately one third of furries are not currently employed (due, in part, to a lack of searching, disability, or factors such as being a homemaker, travelling, or taking a leave of absence). Approximately one in five furries are unemployed and in the process of looking for a job.🐾
Employment Status of Furries
|Category (Choose all that apply)||
% of Furries
|Unemployed, Not Looking||6.9|
|Other (e.g., Homemaker)||9.1|
In the figure below, social orientation refers to a person’s stance regarding social policies (e.g., same-sex marriage, immigration, and abortion). Economic orientation refers to a person’s stance on economic policies (e.g., privatized health care, military spending, and welfare). While somewhat related, social and economic orientation are independent constructs. For example, it is entirely possible for a person to be socially conservative (e.g., pro-life) while also being economically liberal (e.g., public health care). Political orientation is more general, and refers to the tendency to identify with a conservative or liberal party.
Furries, as a group, define themselves as quite socially liberal (M = 6.03; orange bars).🐾 This is consistent with the diversity and inclusiveness of the furry fandom when it comes to sexual orientation and on issues of gender identity, and the relatively young composition of the furry fandom. Economically, however, furries are much more moderate (M = 4.93; gray bars.)🐾 and are significantly more conservative when it comes to economic issues than they are when it comes to social issues. Political orientation fell between economic and social orientation, and is likely a composite of the two (blue bars; M = 5.56).🐾 When it comes to other fandoms (i.e., anime, fantasy sport fans), furries are comparably liberal (see figure below).🐾
In addition to assessing political orientation, we’ve also assessed global citizenship. Global citizenship is the belief that a person’s ingroup—the group of people they belong to—includes all people. It is reflected in items such as concern for people in other countries and consideration of the broader, global consequences of one’s behavior. Furries, because of their self-professed open and inclusive nature, scored significantly higher than non-furries the global citizenship scale (5.16 vs. 4.98, p = .001).
When asked whether their parents had ever been divorced, there was no significant difference between furries and non-furries with regard to frequency. On average, furries have 1.7 siblings. Of furries with at least 1 sibling, more reported being the oldest child (47.5%) than either the youngest child (34.5%) or the middle child (18.0%). Approximately 15% of furries reported being an only child. Only 3.8% of furries report having any children, likely owing to their relatively young age or the nature of their relationships (single, non-married, non-committed). To test this, a potential follow-up question may ask whether furries are interested in one day having children.🐾