I. Demographics

1.1 Age

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

Study Con-Going Online
W11 23.3
S11 24.0 26.8
W12 27.1 27.6
AC12 26.0 31.2
Range 24.0—27.1 23.3—32.1

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.

1-1 Age of Furries

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.

On average, furries are older than anime fans (both convention-going and online), but younger than fantasy sport fans.🐾 Whether this is due to the fandoms targeting different age groups, requiring different amounts of resources to enter (e.g., money to spend on fantasy sport leagues), or other factors remains a topic of interest for future research.
1-1 age of fandom members

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.🐾

1-1 actual and subjective age

 

Finally, this figure illustrates that furries in the oldest quartile rate themselves, on average, 24.5% younger than their actual selves, while furries in the other quartiles feel significantly less young.🐾
1-1 subjective age by actual age

1.2 Ethnicity

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
White 83.2
Black 2.1
Asian 2.0
First Nations/Native American 0.6
Hispanic 3.0
Middle Eastern 0.1
East Indian 3.1
Other 9.0
When compared to other fan groups, furries, as a group, were the most predominantly White (see figures below; color differences indicate significant statistical differences between groups.)🐾 The reasons for this are unknown, though it may be the case that the historical origins of the furry fandom (grounded in the science-fiction fandom which has also been traditionally White) may partially explain these findings. In comparison, convention-going anime fans had a significant Hispanic population, likely owing to the convention’s location in Dallas, Texas, a region with a large Hispanic population relative to other parts of the country. This is supported by the relatively smaller proportion of Hispanic participants in the online anime sample, which represents online participants from far more diverse regions. Interestingly, the online anime sample had significantly more Asian participants, something one would expect in a fandom centered on Japanese animation, although there were unexpectedly few Asian participants at the anime convention.
1-2 identifying as white
1-2 identifying as asian
1-2 identifying as hispanic
1-2 identifying as black

1.3 Sex and Gender

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
Sex: Male 72.4
Sex: Female 27.4
Sex: Intersex 0.2
Gender: Man 67.1
Gender: Woman 23.3
Genderqueer/Non-Binary 10.0
The table above🐾 illustrates that the furry fandom is predominantly male—comparably so to the online anime and fantasy sport fandoms—but far more male than the convention-going anime fandom.🐾

1-3 sex of fandom members

A significant number of furries (2.0—2.5%) self-identify as transgender🐾 or as genderqueer/non-binary (indicating that their gender identity fluctuates or does not fall on the Man-Woman dimension). As the figure below indicates, furries are significantly more likely than members of other fandoms to identify as transgender. 🐾 Whether this indicates fandom-level differences in the inclusiveness of the two fandoms or perhaps a preferential pull toward some other aspect of the furry fandom remains a subject for future research.

1-3 transgender members

As a whole, the data suggest the possibility that of the studied fandoms, the furry fandom may the one most open to, or accepting of, people who eschew or challenge traditional gender norms. This may, in part, have to do with the content of the furry fandom, which allows a person’s created fursona to be any species, age, or gender, they wish—something that may appeal to people who otherwise feel limited in their ability to express their felt gender identity. This possibility is a topic of interest for future research.

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.

1.4 Education

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.

1-4 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).

1-4 average grades of furries

 

1.5 Income

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).

1-5 income of congoing furries

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.

1-5 income and economic standing

1.6 Employment

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

Full-Time 32.2
Part-Time 23.9
Full-time Education 34.8
Part-time Education 11.2
Unemployed, Looking 22.8
Unemployed, Not Looking 6.9
Disability 4.3
Retired 1.1
Other (e.g., Homemaker) 9.1
Furries were also asked to indicate their satisfaction with their current employment status. As you can see from the figure below, while there is tremendous variability on furries’ job satisfaction, furries do, on average, seem to enjoy their current employment.🐾
1-6 employment

1.7 Living Accommodations

1-7 living accommodations

Nearly half of all furries sampled indicate that they currently reside with their parents (see figure above).🐾 Another 30% or so live with a friend or significant other, 15% live alone, and the rest report other accommodations. The high proportion of furries living with their parents is thought to be a product of two factors: (1) furries’ relatively young age and (2) their tendency to attend post-secondary education. Both of these factors may necessitate living with their parents for financial reasons. Indeed, as the figure below demonstrates, when the data for older and younger furries are split up, older furries seem to move away from their parents and into their own homes or to live with a spouse or relationship partner.
1-7 living accommodations by age

 

1.8 Religion/Spirituality

1-8 spirituality

While the majority of furries do not consider themselves to be religious (blue bars above), the fandom is far more diverse with regard to spiritual beliefs; furries are as likely to be spiritual as they are to be non-spiritual (orange bars above). When asked about their religious beliefs, nearly one-third of furries identified as either atheist or agnostic (see figure below). About 25% of furries are Christian, though many indicated that they did not regularly practice their faith or attend church. 11% identified as pagan, shaman, or Wiccan. Finally, the most populated category, “other,” comprised of participants who had their own belief systems, were undecided, refused to answer, or had uncommon belief systems. Taken together, the data suggest that the furry fandom contains a diversity of religious and spiritual beliefs, and it’s worth noting that despite this, religion is seldom a point of conflict for furries.🐾
1-8 religious affiliationWhen compared to members of other fandoms (see figure below), furries are comparably religious.🐾
1-8 religiousness of fan groups

1.9 Political Orientation

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.

1-9 political orientation

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).🐾

1-9 political orientation of fandoms

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).

1.10 Family Structure

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.🐾