Gerbasi et al—Furries from A to Z (Anthropomorphism to Zoomorphism)

Furries from A to Z (Anthropomorphism to Zoomorphism)

by Kathleen Gerbasi et al 

[Gerbasi, Kathleen, Nicholas Paolone, Adam Privitera, Laura Scaletta, Samuel Conway, Justin Higner, and Penny Bernstein. 2008. “Furries from A to Z (Anthropomorphism to Zoomorphism).” Society & Animals 16: 197–222.]

  • Coming from psychology
  • Dichotomy of anthropomorphism (attributing human traits to nonhuman entities) versus zoomorphism (attributing animal traits to humans deities or inanimate objects)
  • Likens furry identity to gender identity disorder and proposes the new category of “species identity disorder
  • critiqued directly by Probyn-Rapsey

Abstract

This study explored the furry identity. Furries are humans interested in anthropomorphic art and cartoons. Some furries have zoomorphic tendencies. Furries often identify with, and/or assume, characteristics of a special/totem species of nonhuman animal. Th is research surveyed both furries (n = 217) and non-furry individuals (n = 29) attending a furry convention and a comparison group of college students (n = 68). Furries commonly indicated dragons and various canine and feline species as their alternate-species identity; none reported a nonhuman-primate identity. Dichotomous responses (“yes” or “no”) to two key furry-identity questions (“do you consider yourself to be less than 100% human” and “if you could become 0% human, would you”) produced a two-by-two furry typology. Th ese two independent dimensions are self-perception (undistorted versus distorted) and species identity (attained versus unattained). One-quarter of the furry sample answered “yes” to both questions, placing them in the “Distorted Unattained” quadrant. Th is type of furry has certain characteristics paralleling gender-identity disorder. To explore this parallel, the furry typology, and the proposed construct of “Species Identity Disorder” needs further research.”

Keywords – furry; furries; anthropomorphism; zoomorphism; identity; species identity, disorder

Annotation Summary for: Gerbasi et al – Furries from A to Z (Anthropomorphism to Zoomorphism)

Page 2, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “Introduction”

Page 2, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “anthropomorphism, “the attribution of human characteristics to nonhuman entities” (American Psychological Association, 2007, p. 59)”

Page 2, Highlight (Yellow): Content: “anthropomorphism,”

Page 2, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “zoomor- phism, “the attribution of animal traits to human beings, deities, or inanimate objects” (American Psychological Association, p. 1011)”

Page 2, Highlight (Yellow): Content: “zoomor- phism,”

Page 2, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “rarely appears in the psychological literature.”

Page 2, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “explana-tion for the lack of research on zoomorphism is that the scientific community may be unaware that a group of people exist worldwide with a keen interest in not only anthropomorphism but also zoomorphism. Th ese people, known as furries, often identify with, and may wish to assume, characteristics of, nonhuman animals”

Page 2, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “A furry is a person who identifies with the Furry Fandom culture.”

Page 2, Highlight (Yellow): Content: “furry”

Page 2, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “Furry Fandom is the collective name given to individuals who have a distinct interest in anthropomorphic animals such as cartoon char- acters. Many, but not all, furries strongly identify with, or view themselves as, one (or more) species of animal other than human.”

Page 2, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “Many furries congregate in cyberspace, enjoy artwork depicting anthropomorphized animals, and attend Furry Fandom conventions.”

Page 3, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “media portrayals have implied, if not explicitly stated, that furries tend to be people with psychological prob- lems.”

Page 3, Highlight (Cyan): Content: ” Th e purpose of this study was to address this empirical void by creating a survey that would assess elements of the media-generated furry stereotype, including the mental health characteristics ascribed to furries. Quite simply, the goal of this research was to begin to describe what is meant when an indi-vidual says “I am a furry.” ”

Page 3, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “Specific Goals of Current Study”

Page 3, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “Th e goals of the study were to test the furry stereotype and determine com- mon denominators. Are furries more likely (a) to be males than females; (b) to enjoy science fiction (more than non-furry individuals); (c) to be homosexual; (d) to wear glasses and have beards-male furries only; (e) to wear fursuits; and (f ) to work as scientists or in computer-related fields? Did furries, as children, enjoy cartoons (more than non-furry individuals)? Do furries consider”

Page 4, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “themselves to be not completely human and would be not at all human if pos- sible? Two final goals include the following:”

Page 4, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “1. Are furries perceived as having behaviors commonly seen in personality disorders? 2. Do furries report connections to their identity species that parallel aspects of gender identity disorder?”

Page 4, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “Because it is not clear which psychopathologies (if any) furries might have, we hypothesized that if the stereotype had a basis in fact, it might represent one or two different areas of mental health prob- lems. Th e two areas we considered were personality disorders and gender iden- tity disorder (GID).”

Page 4, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “Methods and Procedure”

Page 4, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “Furry participants (FP) and non-furry participants (NFP) were recruited at the world’s largest annual furry convention”

Page 4, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “about 2,500 individuals,”

Page 4, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “Th e convention chairman, well-trusted and respected by the furry community, approved the study.”

Page 5, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “Th e furry (187 males and 30 females) and non-furry (21 males and 8 females) convention attendees comprised a sample of 246 participants.”

Page 5, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “Furry-identity questions included: 1. Do you consider yourself a furry (whatever “furry” means to you)? 2. Do you consider yourself to be less than 100% human? 3. What species of animal other than human do you consider yourself to be? 4. If you could become 0% human, would you? 5. At what age did you realize you were a furry? 6. At what age did you become connected to the furry culture? 7. Do any of your family members know that you are a furry? 8. Do you own a fur-suit? and 9. Do you wear a fur-suit?”

Page 6, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “FP were also asked to indicate how many (if any) of six possible connections to their species they felt. 1. born with connection to other species; 2. share characteristics with other species; 3. was a nonhuman in a previous life and has been reincarnated as a human; 4. has a mystical connection to species; 5. has a feeling of discomfort or inappropriateness concerning their human body; and 6. is a nonhuman species trapped in a human body.”

Page 6, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “Th e last two connections are paraphrased from criteria for GID (American Psychiatric Association, DSM-IV-TR, 2000).”

Page 6, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “Participating convention attendees were there- fore instructed as follows:”

Page 7, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “Th inking about furries you know, please read the phrases listed below in Columns A and B. Place a check in the box in front of as many phrases listed in Column A and Column B that you see as characteristic of the furry personality and/or behavior.”

Page 8, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “Th e mean age at which furries said they first realized they were a furry was 17.28 (sd = 6.74) and the mean age at which they first became connected to the furry culture was 19.48 (sd = 6.98). When asked if someone in their family knew they were furry, 29% of the 214 furry respondents indicated that no one in their family knew.”

Page 8, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “Furry Stereotypes and Results Males are more likely to be furries than females.”

Page 8, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “A binomial test, based on the Z approximation, reveals significantly ( p < .001) more males than females in the furry sample compared to the population of the United States. Th ese results are consistent with this stereotype. ”

Page 9, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “Furries liked cartoons a great deal as children. Furries like science fiction. Common furry species are wolf and fox.”

Page 9, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “Furries recalled watching cartoons significantly more hours per week Th ese results are consistent with this stereotype.”

Page 9, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “Th ese results are consistent with this stereotype.”

Page 9, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “Collapsing across related species, the two most popular categories were varieties of canines (foxes, wolves, dogs) named by 85 of the respondents and felines (lions, tigers, domestic cats) named by 45 individuals. Com- monly named species were: fox or fox combinations (20.6%), wolf or wolf combinations (17.6%), dragon or dragon combinations (10%), or tiger or tiger combinations (6%). Other species such as otter, orca, praying mantis, mouse, horse, raccoon, skunk, rooster, and hyena were named less frequently. No furries named a nonhuman primate species as their identity. Th ese results are somewhat consistent with this stereotype.”

Page 9, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “Furries wear fursuits.”

Page 9, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “When asked if they owned a fursuit, 26.4 % of the 216 FP who responded said “yes.” When asked if they wore a fursuit, 30% of the 217 FP who responded said “yes.” Th ese results are not consistent with this stereotype.”

Page 9, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “Male furries wear both beards and glasses.”

Page 9, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “Th ese results are not consistent withthis stereotype.”

Page 10, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “Furries are employed in computer or science fields. Furries are homosexual.”

Page 10, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “Approximately 75% appeared to be neither computer nor sci- ence related. Th ese results are not consistent with this stereotype.”

Page 10, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “24 participants, 19 of whom were furries, provided answers that could not be categorized as either hetero- sexual, homosexual, or bisexual (“pansexual,” “omnisexual,” “bicurious,” “nor- mal,” “any/all,” and “white”).”

Page 10, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “Th ese results are not consistent with this stereotype.”

Page 11, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “Personality Disorder Items”

Page 12, Highlight (Cyan): Content: ” Table 4. Personality Disorder Items Comparing Convention Participants’ (FP and NFP Combined) Perceptions of Furry Target with Control Participants’ Perceptions of College Student Target χ2 1 degree of freedom, N = 302, unless otherwise noted Item location on Personality Checklist Item content % Convention participants who used trait to describe “furry” % Control Participants who used trait to describe “college student” 1A Has relationship problems 43.6 79.4 27.074*** 3A Has problems paying attention 28.6 75.0 47.584*** 6A Is anxious/tense 32.5 63.2 20.874*** 8A Is egotistical/ world revolves around them 23.1 50.0 18.496*** (n = 301) 10A Is depressed/ helpless 30.0 48.5 7.992** 12A Is impulsive/ reckless 28.2 48.5 9.877** (n = 301) 16A Is sensitive 66.1 60.3 .776 19A Is deceitful 11.1 30.9 15.673*** 21A Is suspicious/ distrustful 18.4 30.9 4.934* (n = 300) 23A Blames others 26.3 63.2 31.686*** 2B Is self-critical 53.8 72.1 7.172** (n = 301) 5B Is aloof/isolated 31.3 30.9 .005 7B Has odd or unusual thoughts about daily situations 58.1 41.2 6.095 * 9B Is controlling/ manipulative 9.4 36.8 30.021*** 11B Has hallucina- tions &/or delusions 14.1 11.8 .245 14B Is self-absorbed 19.7 51.5 27.167*** ”

Page 13, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “Table 4. (cont.) χ2 1 degree of Item Item content % Convention % Control freedom, N = 302, location on participants who Participants who Personality unless otherwise used trait to used trait to Checklist noted describe “furry” describe “college student” 17B Is emotionally 33.3 48.5 5.234* unstable 20B Is hostile 8.1 26.5 16.504*** 22B Is jealous 17.9 47.1 24.135*** * p < .05. ** p < .01. *** p < .001. Critical value χ2(1 df ) = 10.827, p = .001 (Rosnow & Rosenthal, 2002).”

Page 13, Highlight (Cyan): Content: ” Table 5. Aesthetic Appreciation Items Comparing Convention Participants’ (FP and NFP Combined) Perceptions of Furry Target with Control Participants’ Perceptions of College Student Target Item location on Personality Checklist 2A 20A 1B Item content Believes in the importance of art Sees beauty in things that others might not notice Gets deeply immersed in music % Convention % Control participants who used trait to describe “furry” 75.6 67.9 54.7 χ2 1 degree participants who of freedom, used trait to describe “college student” 35.3 44.1 54.4 N = 302 38.533*** 12.778*** .002 ”

Page 14, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “Table 5. (cont.) χ2 1 degree Item location Item content % Convention % Control on Personality participants participants who of freedom, N = 302 Checklist who used trait used trait to to describe describe “college “furry” student” 15B Has read the 27.8 27.9 001 great literary classics 19B Enjoys feeling 41.5 23.5 7.228** “close to the earth” ** p < .01. *** p < .001. Critical value χ2(1 df ) = 10.827, p = .001 (Rosnow & Rosenthal, 2002).”

Page 14, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “Table 6. Unconventionality Items Comparing Convention Participants’ (Furry and Non-furry Combined) Perceptions of Furry Target with Control Participants’ Perceptions of College Student Target χ2 1 degree Item location Item content % Convention % Control of free- on Personality participants participants who dom, Checklist who used trait used trait to N = 302 to describe describe “college “furry” student” 4A Rebels against 35.0 48.5 4.064* authority 7A Swims against 56.4 29.4 15.363*** the current.”

Page 15, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “Table 6. (cont.) χ2 1 degree Item location Item content % Convention % Control on Personality participants of freedom, participants who N = 302 Checklist who used trait used trait to to describe describe “college “furry” student” 13A Knows their 65.0 50.0 4.983* ideas some- times surprise people 3B Does things 82.9 51.5 28.406*** that others find strange 12B Is considered 65.0 35.3 19.067*** to be kind of eccentric * p < .05. *** p < .001.”

Page 15, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “Table 7. Creativity Items Comparing Convention Participants’ (Furry and Non-furry Combined) Perceptions of Furry Target with Control Participants’ Perceptions of College Student Target χ2 1 degree of free- % Control Item content % Convention Item dom, N = 302, participants participants location on who used trait unless otherwise who used trait Personality to describe to describe Checklist noted “college “furry” student” 11A Has a vivid 83.3 52.9 27.064 *** imagination. 47.9 50.0 096 15A Comes up with some- thing new (n = 301) 18A Has excellent 50.2 51.5 033 ideas 54.3 51.5 166 8B Loves to think up new ways of doing things”

Page 16, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “Table 7. (cont.) Item location on Personality Checklist 10B 18B Item content % Convention % Control participants participants χ2 1 degree of free- dom, N = 302, who used trait who used trait unless otherwise to describe “furry” Is full of ideas Carries the conversation to a higher level 64.1 32.9 to describe “college student” 69.1 36.8 noted .584 .351 *** p < .001. Critical value of χ2(1 df ) = 10.827, p = .001 (Rosnow & Rosenthal, 2002). ”

Page 16, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “Table 8. TIPI Items Comparing Convention Participants’ (FP and NFP Combined) Perceptions of Furry Target with Control Participants’ Perceptions of College Student Target χ2 1 degree of free- Item Item content—Big Five % % Control dom, N = 302, location on Extraversion (E) Convention participants Personality Conscientiousness (C) unless otherwise participants who used Checklist noted Openness to Experiences (O) who used trait to Emotional Stability (ES) trait to describe Agreeableness (A) describe “college “furry” student” 5A Is extraverted, enthusiastic (E) 48.3 55.9 1.215 16B Is unreserved, talkative (E) 38.9 64.7 14.207*** 14A Is dependable, self-disciplined (C) 29.1 58.8 20.318*** 20.235*** ( n = 301) 22A Is organized, careful (C) 23.2 51.5”

Page 17, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “Table 8. (cont.) χ2 1 degree of free- Item Item content—Big Five % % Control dom, N = 302, location on Extraversion (E) Convention participants Personality unless otherwise Conscientiousness (C) participants who used Checklist noted Openness to Experiences (O) who used trait to Emotional Stability (ES) trait to describe Agreeableness (A) describe “college “furry” student” 9A Is open to new experiences, 69.2 67.6 062 complex (O) 21B Is unconventional, creative (O) 62.0 42.6 8.052** 12.905*** (n = 301) 17A Is calm, emotionally stable (ES) 24.5 47.1 13B Is worry free, not easily upset (ES) 22.6 39.7 7.872** 4B Is non-judgmental, agreeable (A) 48.3 48.5 001 6B Is sympathetic, warm (A) 53.8 55.9 088 ** p < .01. *** p < .001. Critical values of χ2(1 df ) = 6.635, p =.01; χ2(1 df ) = 10.827, p = .001 (Rosnow & Rosenthal, 2002).”

Page 17, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “Furry Identity, Connections to Nonhuman Species, and Furry Typology”

Page 18, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “Furry Typology Furries state there are different types of furries.”

Page 18, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “On the self-perception dimension, a furry is labeled “distorted” or “undis- torted”. Th e furry does (distorted) or does not (undistorted) consider the “self to be less than 100% human.””

Page 18, Highlight (Yellow): Content: ““distorted” “undis- torted”.”

Page 18, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “We chose the terms distorted and undistorted based on a comparison between how the individual feels and what the individual appears to be (human).”

Page 18, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “Th e identity is either undistorted (they do not say they consider themselves less than 100% human) or distorted (they consider themselves to be less than 100% human)—but they are objectively human.”

Page 19, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “On the species-identity dimension, a furry is labeled either “attained” or “unattained.” Is the furry the specie the furry wants to be? If furries say they would be 0% human if possible, that is unattained because they are humans and have not reached their goal. If the furries did not want to be 0% human, that is attained because—to the objective observer—they have attained this goal because they are humans.”

Page 19, Highlight (Yellow): Content: ““attained” “unattained.””

Page 19, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “Th e largest group in our sample was the “undistorted attained” type (n = 77). Th is group comprises the individuals who say they are not less than 100%human and do not wish to become 0% human.”

Page 19, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “Th is type comprised 38% of the furries who answered bothkey identity questions. ”

Page 19, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “Th e second largest group was the “distorted unattained” type (n = 51). Th is furry considers the self to be less than 100% human and would become 0% human if possible.”

Page 19, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “Th is type comprised 25% of the furries who answered both key identity questions.”

Page 19, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “Th e remaining two groups are the “distorted attained” and the “undistorted unattained.” Th e distorted attained type (n = 44) consid- ers the self to be less than 100% human but does not wish to be 0% human; this type comprised 22 % of the sample who answered both key identity ques- tions. Finally, the undistorted unattained type (n = 31) does not consider the self less than 100% human but would become 0% human if possible. Th is was the least common type, only 15 % of those who answered both key identity questions.”

Page 21, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “Table 10. Furry Types and Mean Total Connection Scores, Standard Errors, and Confidence Intervals M Would become Standard 95% Confidence Interval Considers self 0% human Error less than 100% Lower bound Upper bound human No (undistorted) No (attained) 1.26 158 95 1.58 Yes (unattained) 1.87 245 1.38 2.35 Yes (distorted) No (attained) 3.33 205 2.92 3.73 Yes (unat- 3.98 188 3.61 4.35 tained) Homosexuals were over-represented in distorted unattained type; heterosexuals were over-represented in undistorted attained type. Th ere is also a tendency for female furries to be under-represented in the distorted unattained group and male furries to be over-represented in that group,”

Page 21, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “GID Connections”

Page 21, Highlight (Cyan): Content: ” One of the goals of the study was to investigate possible parallels between GID and being a furry. Toward that end, two connection statements were patternedafter aspects of GID. Given the emerging furry typology, it makes sense to look at these two connections and the four furry types. ”

Page 21, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “Of the 201 FP answering the connection item regarding a “persistent feeling of discomfort”

Page 22, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “or inappropriateness concerning your human body,” 48 (23.9%) indicated this was an aspect of their connection to their nonhuman species.”

Page 22, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “Of these 48 fur-ries, 45 completed both key identity questions and could be placed in thefurry typology; 36 of the 45 (80%) were one of the distorted types (14 dis-torted attained and 22 distorted unattained)”

Page 22, Highlight (Cyan): Content: ” Th e same pattern emerged from the analysis of the second GID connection.Of the 209 FP answering the connection item, “you are your non-human spe-cies trapped in a human body,” 61 (29.2%) indicated this was an aspect of their connection to their nonhuman species. Of these 61 furries, 57 com-pleted both key identity questions and could be placed in the furry typology; 47 of the 57 (82%) were one of the distorted types (16 distorted attained and 31 distorted unattained).”

Page 22, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “Discussion”

Page 23, Highlight (Cyan): Content: ” Despite possible shortcomings, this study has begun to describe what it means when a person says, “I am a furry.” Results revealed that furries are a complex, distinctive, and diverse group of people who are exceptional in several ways: 1. Th eir interests and behaviors uniquely combine anthropomorphism and zoomorphism; 2. Many more males than females are furry; and 3. Furries’ sexual orientations diff er considerably from societal norms. ”

Page 24, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “Personality Checklist results indicate the furry is perceived as an unconven- tional individual with aesthetic interests but is not viewed as having personal- ity disorder traits.”

Page 24, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “Conclusion”

Page 24, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “furry does mean different things to different furries. Th e proposed furry typol-ogy is an attempt to differentiate types of furries. For the largest group of fur-ries, the undistorted attained type, being furry may simply be a route to socializing with others who share common interests such as anthropomorphic art and costumes. ”

Page 24, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “For distorted unattained furries, the similarities between their connections to their species and aspects of GID are striking. For these furries, considering the self as less than 100% human and wanting to be 0% human is often accompanied by discomfort with their human body and feel- ing that they are another species trapped in a human body. Th ese connections parallel criteria for the diagnosis of GID, and the results provide face validity for the proposed furry typology. P”

Page 24, Highlight (Cyan): Content: ” Th e parallels between the distorted furry dimension and GID criteria are remarkable.”

Page 24, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “Distorted furry types may possibly represent a condition we have tentatively dubbed “Species Identity Disorder.””

Page 24, Highlight (Yellow): Content: ““Species Identity Disorder.””

Page 24, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “Much additional work is needed to replicate and validate both the furry typology and the pro- posed construct of species-identity disorder.”

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s