A Summary of Research from the International Anthropomorphic Research Project
® 2016 FurScience and the IARP (Plante, Reysen, Roberts, & Gerbasi)
Courtney N. Plante Iowa State University
Stephen Reysen Texas A&M University-Commerce
Sharon E. Roberts Renison University College, University of Waterloo
Kathleen C. Gerbasi Niagara County Community College
The International Anthropomorphic Research Project (IARP) is, first and foremost, a group of social scientists. As such, their goal is to gain an understanding of the furry fandom through the scientific process: forming hypotheses, designing studies to test those hypotheses, analyzing the resulting data, and determining whether the results support or oppose the original hypothesis. In other words, the IARP’s findings are more than mere anecdote—they’re conclusions based on the systematic study of more than 15,000 furries over the past decade.
A good scientist recognizes two important points. First, no study is perfect. Because of the trade-offs inherent in any study design (e.g., construct precision vs. survey length), researchers will inevitably be limited in their ability to draw conclusions based on the results of a single study. Which leads to the second point—multiple studies allow greater confidence in one’s findings. While an individual study may be limited, a multitude of different studies that use different methodologies and different samples allow researchers to more confidently draw conclusions about their findings.
In this spirit, the IARP have striven to answer questions about the furry fandom across a series of studies. Below, we summarize the main studies from which the majority of our conclusions have been drawn. In the data presentations which follow, we use brackets to indicate which study/studies the data upon which our conclusions are based were drawn.
The majority of our studies involve the use of surveys, administered either online or in-person (pen and paper) at furry conventions. Online surveys involve recruiting furries from popular furry websites by providing them with a link to the survey. Once there, furries complete the survey in exchange for entry into a draw for one of several $50 gift cards. At conventions, furries are recruited by research assistants wearing white lab coats, typically while waiting in the convention’s registration line or in one of the common areas of the convention (e.g., dealer’s area). Participants are asked to return the survey by the end of the weekend and typically receive a ribbon for their convention badge as well as a small prize (e.g., erasers, stickers) or entry into a draw for a $50 gift card. In both instances (online and convention-going surveys), participants are asked anywhere from 50-250 separate questions, which range in content from demographic questions to questions about attitudes and behavior toward fandom-specific issues to psychological variables (e.g., well-being, self-esteem).
On other occasions, data are collected using experimental study designs—where researchers randomly assign participants to one of several conditions, or manipulate a variable within the study, to determine its effect on participants’ attitudes or behavour. This can involve the use of multiple versions of a survey handed out randomly to different participants, or can involve the use of computer-administered studies (e.g., reaction time studies).
To summarize: the IARP strives to obtain the most accurate and representative data about the attitudes and behavior of furries through the use of multiple large samples obtained through different sampling methodologies and the use of different types of study designs to provide converging evidence for our conclusions. As we run new studies and collect new data, the findings will be added here to ensure that the most up-to-date information is available to those wanting to know more about the furry fandom. Below is a guide to the studies and surveys used throughout this summary to reference which study the data presented is drawn from.
Guide to Studies and Study Abbreviations
|Abbreviation||Study||Sample Size||Other Notes|
|W11||2011 International Online Furry Survey I||4,338 furries||69 countries|
|FF11||2011 Furry Fiesta Survey I||219 furries|
|S11||2011 Anthrocon & International Online Furry Survey II||1,761 furries||41 countries|
|W12||2012 Furry Fiesta & International Online Furry Survey III||915 furries|
|AC12||2012 Anthrocon & General Population Control Survey||1,065 furries||Included 802 non-furries|
|AC13||2013 Anthrocon Survey||820 furries|
|S13||2013 Online Fursona Survey||369 furries|
|FF14||2014 Furry Fiesta Survey||246 furries||Included 3 focus groups|
|F3||2014 3-Fandom Survey (Furries, Anime Fans, Fantasy Sport Fans)||1,059 furries||Included 901 con-going anime fans, 2,283 online anime fans, 511 fantasy sport fans|
|FF15||2015 Furry Fiesta Survey & Experiment||245 furries||Included 25 artists and 120 undergraduate students|
|AC15||2015 Anthrocon Survey||979 furries||Included 69 artists|
|FF16||Texas Furry Fiesta 2016||268 furries|
|AC16||Anthrocon 2016||968 furries|