Furry Research: A Look Back at Dr Gerbasi’s Landmark 2007 Study

The first notable academic study on furries is six years old. Completed in 2007 (published 2008), Gerbasi et al’s Furries from A to Z (Anthropomorphism to Zoomorphism) provides a review of furries based on 246 responses (including 217 furries) to surveys distributed at Anthrocon, plus an ad hoc ‘control group’ of 65 psychology students.

The study had two main goals: to test the validity of the usual furry stereotypes, and to investigate whether furries exhibit signs of personality disorder.

Gerbasi presented data to show that furries are an unusual demographic (anthropomorphic & zoomorphic interests; male dominated; wide range of sexual orientation), and that the group doesn’t exhibit any special tendency for known personality disorders. Beyond that, there was one strong conclusion: that up to 46% of furries ‘may possibly represent a condition we have tentatively dubbed “Species Identity Disorder”‘.

The diagnosis of Species Identity Disorder, a term invented by Gerbasi, is defined by her as ‘…considering the self as less than 100% human and wanting to be 0% human [and] is often accompanied by discomfort with their human body and feeling that they are another species trapped in a human body‘. Gerbasi makes a direct comparison to Gender Identity Disorder.

There are some problems with this.

The most obvious problem is the use of the word ‘disorder’. This implies that there is some sort of problem. Gerbasi seems to be pathologizing furry, or at least a large subset of furry.

Psychologists understand that people have all sorts of different perspectives on the world, and a wide range of personality traits. An unusual trait is not a problem in itself. The word ‘disorder’ generally means that a condition is bad enough to be disabling.

Gerbasi’s sample of 217 furries are all people who could manage the cost, transport, and social effort required to attend a large convention like Anthrocon. A large subset of these people cannot be mentally disabled: if they were, they simply wouldn’t have been there.

For comparison, the 2011 Furrypoll, which was completed online by over 4000 furries, showed that about 11% of furries consider themselves either non-human or part-human. This is a long way from Gerbasi’s 46%.

Gerbasi’s unreasonably large number is probably an issue related to the slight unreality of a convention environment. This argument is made rather pithily in a paper by Dr Fiona Probyn-Rapsey, who disagrees with Gerbasi: ‘There are a myriad of reasons why furry participants at a furry conference might identify as “less than 100% human,” not the least having a hangover from furry drinks the night before.

Probyn-Rapsey’s argument is laid out in her counterpoint, Furries and the Limits of Species Identity Disorder: A Response to Gerbasi et al, published in 2011 in the same journal as Gerbasi’s original paper (ref). Dr Probyn-Rapsey challenges Gerbasi’s tentative diagnosis of ‘Species Identity Disorder’ directly: ‘What might be the “treatment” for such a condition?

Probyn-Raspey’s biggest problem is Gerbasi’s link between ‘Species Identity Disorder’ and Gender Identity Disorder. Probyn-Rapsey points out that a diagnosis of Gender Identity Disorder is a controversial and politicized one, and that many people regard it a misrepresentation of people on the transgender spectrum (much in the way that homosexuality was formally considered to be a mental disorder in mainstream psychology up until the late 20th century). Gerbasi avoids any such discussion, simply referring to Gender Identity Disorder as if it were objectively diagnosable.

It’s ironic that the mental health of furries is defended Dr Probyn-Rapsey, a feminism theorist. Furry is not a progressive environment for women nor for feminist ideas. We remain significantly informed by moronic (if well-meaning) advocates for ‘men’s rights’, probably because of our crossover with the echo chamber of male-dominated online spaces such as Reddit. It’s a pity, because feminism and queer theory provides a useful foundation for analysis of our community. However this is all a larger topic, perhaps worthy of a dedicated [adjective][species] article or three.

Gerbasi, for her part, doesn’t actually question the mental health of furries or suggest that there a significant subset of us that require treatment. This is a criticism drawn only from her use of the word ‘disorder’ and her link between so-called ‘Species Identity Disorder’ and Gender Identity Disorder.

It feels to me that Gerbasi has chosen to introduce ‘Species Identity Disorder’ because she was hoping to be the first to identify a new psychological phenomenon. It’s a professional coup to be a leader in any field, and I suspect that Gerbasi simply over-reached in her language. She is certainly a leading furry researcher and her instinct—that something special is going on inside our community—is, I think, spot on.

Her article was the first, and to date only, publication of the International Anthropomorphic Research Project, which Gerbasi heads. The IARP is a grand title for three researchers operating from a small community college. And calling it ‘International’ is bit bullish seeing as it’s based on the fact that they have scientists from the United States and Canada (it feels equivalent to a collaboration between people from Brighton and Cardiff). However, ornate naming aside, their research is of great value to the furry community.

The IARP are continually collecting data during regular forays to American furry conventions and online. They are strongly engaged with, and legitimized by, the furry community: their research is touched by the gilded hand of Anthrocon’s Sam Conway (he appears as a co-author in their paper), and they include Laurence Parry (Flayrah head honcho and founder of Wikifur) on an advisory board.

Perhaps most significantly, the IARP include a furry in the their research team: Courtney Plante, otherwise known as Nuka. Plante joined their group in 2011 and is presumably on the way to earning the first ever PhD in furry studies. (We are lucky to have another prospective furry PhD here at [adjective][species], Quentin Julien, who joined us as an occasional contributor earlier this year.)

The IARP regularly publishes data from their surveys, some of which I have discussed in previous articles here at [adjective][species] (link). Their methodology is intelligent and elegant. Most recently they have kicked off a longitudinal study, where they will be following furries over a significant period of time. I expect their study will dig up some interesting data, showing how we mature as members of the furry community.

You can visit the IARP homepage, browse their results, and see the full text of their paper at https://sites.google.com/site/anthropomorphicresearch/home.

Gerbasi has tilled the ground upon which a field of furry research is starting to grow. I’ve spent the past few days at the British Library reading up on the latest furry research and much of it is fascinating. It’s difficult to imagine this research existing without Gerbasi’s willingness to engage with the attendees of Anthrocon, and her direct exploration of furry psychology and popularly-held stereotypes.

The IARP dataset from 2007 is no longer considered to be particularly large or useful. Of all the available datasets, today’s researchers are most likely to use Klisoura’s Furrypoll (hosted here on [adjective][species]), for example in this Spanish study from 2013. However the focus of the IARP in recent years is more focussed: geared towards understanding furry psychology, rather than simply furry demographics. I’m fascinated to see what they will learn next.

About JM

JM is a horse-of-all-trades who was introduced to furry in his native Australia by the excellent group known collectively as the Perthfurs. JM now helps run [adjective][species] from London, where he is most commonly spotted holding a pint and talking nonsense.

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24 thoughts on “Furry Research: A Look Back at Dr Gerbasi’s Landmark 2007 Study

  1. I’ve read the results that were published from these surveys, and what I ended up concluding was that the language the surveys use and the issues they’re trying to address aren’t defined rigorously enough for the results to be meaningful. For instance, I think almost all of us as furries have characters that, in some way, are intended to symbolize what we want to be, or how we perceive ourselves, but that symbolism isn’t obvious to people outside the fandom. So if there’s a survey that asks something like “do you feel that you really are your fursona”, and someone says “yes”, that might be interpreted as meaning “I believe that I am literally an anthropomorphic animal in real life”, but that isn’t necessarily what was meant at all. I think there’s a certain degree of ambiguity in questions like that that isn’t apparent to anyone outside the fandom.

    (Though whether that’s true or not, I can’t take seriously any counterargument that basically boils down to “oh, they must have only written that because they were drunk.” Being drunk doesn’t just make you say the opposite of everything you really mean, and you don’t go to the dealer’s room to drink at a con anyway.)

    I think it might actually be possible that a substantial proportion of furries fall into a distinct personality type; certainly a lot of furries (including myself) have a degree of comfort with the idea of their identity and gender being mutable, a genuine need for (non-sexual) physical affection, and a feeling of kinship with animals. I don’t believe any of these things can, or should, be “cured”, but they’re all clearly very different patterns of behaviour from the expectations of mainstream society. For that reason, I think that if an anthropologist was in contact with furries for a period of years, they’d understand a lot more about us than a psychologist basically trying to diagnose a pathology (previously described or not) that could apply to furries as a whole, because they would have a clearer view of most furries’ values and social mores, and the symbolism and intent behind our characters.

    1. Hey Polka, thanks for the comment. I think you are absolutely spot on.

      Here are [a][s] we are doing our best to explore what it means to be furry, and I think that your generalizations about identity are on the right track. It’s certainly the approach that I tend to take, although I’m not always able to express it as clearly and efficiently as you have in your comment.

      I think you’re right about flaw in the IARP’s approach: it read to me like they were searching a bit too hard for evidence to support a pre-existing theory. I think they would agree too: they seem to have dropped the idea of ‘Species Identity Disorder’ and moved on to looking at personality and how furries change over time. It looks promising to me. (I should also add that Probyn-Rapsey’s published counter-argument is a lot deeper than my quote suggests. I just liked her joke about feeling ‘less-than-human’ when hungover.)

      Thanks again. I’m going to be looking at some of the other research published on furries intermittently over the coming weeks, that have been shared less widely within our community. There are some interest ideas to say the least: I’ll be curious to hear your thoughts.

      1. I guess IARP is not especially to blame here, the problem has much deeper roots. Even the powers that be in the field of psychology are beginning to understand that the field needs an overhaul because the current standard practices encourage physhcologists to label everything a “disorder” without solid evaluation criteria. See the recent debate about the dismissal of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of mental disorders by part of the NIMH. Hopefully this change of approach will benefit research over controversial behaviors like those found among furries.

        1. Good ‘ol NIMH. If JBC were still around, I imagine he’d point out that human socialization is built very heavily on earlier principles and a lot of the things we make into complicated issues are the same things as in simpler mammals but examined by a more analytical brain.
          Probably ballsing it up, though. I never could get a really good grip on his stuff. I do machine brains and he did biological ones.

  2. The “International” part refers primarily to those taking the survey. The IARP’s Summer 2011 survey included almost 2000 participants from 41 countries.

    More recent iterations of the surveys have have allowed the research team to polish off some of the rough edges. Unfortunately their findings have not been published beyond the team’s website, various conferences, and a few summaries here and on Flayrah, though I understand the team is actively seeking new publication venues. Probably doesn’t help that the furry research isn’t a full-time job for any of those involved.

    1. I did wonder whether the team had chosen to publish their results at conferences (presentations, posters, symposiums etc) because of a lack of opportunities in journals. From what I understand, it is a lot more difficult to be accepted for publication nowadays in many fields because of growing competition from English-language Chinese and Indian universities. Hopefully the move towards online journals will provide more opportunities for the team.

      I really appreciate their willingness to publish detailed results on their website. It’s great that they are engaged enough with the furry community to take the time to share this information. It’s really interesting stuff. And I love your occasional summary on Flayrah: always engaging, to-the-point, and insightful.

  3. Hi there!

    Courtney “Nuka” Plante here, PhD social psychology student, furry, and co-founder of the IARP! I read through (and quite enjoyed the insight in) your article and felt compelled to provide my take on things, given that Dr. Gerabsi’s article pre-dates my involvement with the furry research, and given that I’m in the lucky position of being at the forefront of our team’s research, and able to perhaps provide another perspective on things!

    I’ll structure my comments in a point-by-point fashion.

    “The most obvious problem is the use of the word ‘disorder’. This implies that there is some sort of problem. Gerbasi seems to be pathologizing furry, or at least a large subset of furry.”

    I both agree and disagree with your statement. I do agree that the use of the term “disorder” is (and has always been) problematic in this regard. I disagree, however, that the term has pathologized furries, for reasons I’ll get into in a moment. But to start, I’ll agree that ‘disorder’ is problematic in its use here. The stance of the IARP is that furries are neither inherently pathological or disordered. There is nothing “wrong” with furry in and of itself, just as there’s nothing wrong with most beliefs or behaviors in and of themselves. It becomes problematic if, and only if, it begins to cause clinically significant distress for people who engage in those behaviors or hold those beliefs. From Dr. Gerbasi’s perspective, she did the empirical thing, and simply asked furries to indicate whether, as a result of a belief that one was not entirely human, there was a persistent feeling of distress or discomfort with one’s body. Such items were drawn from a GID scale because of the potential similarities regarding conflict between one’s mental representation of self and their physical body. Asking the question “is there something analogous to GID?” is not the same thing as claiming that SID exists or that all furries have it– it is a necessary part of testing the hypothesis that some furries may feel something analogous to what those with GID feel – even if only at subclinical levels. The data reveal that, for at least some furries, they DO report significant levels of distress regarding the apparent disparity between how they see themselves in their mind and their physical bodies. Dr. Gerbasi did not make the claim that furries were therefore pathological, nor was the intention to suggest that furries who did experience this distress were somehow diagnosable with something. Instead, the comparison was always intended merely to raise awareness that within this fandom there may be some who experience this distress, and that it might be worth taking seriously (for the most part, any clinician hearing about this might otherwise dismiss it as so much nonsense). The majority of furries do NOT experience a discrepancy between their “felt species” and their “actual species”, and the majority of those who do feel this discrepancy do not experience it as a clinical level.

    To summarize the point, Dr. Gerbasi was not intending to claim that some, or even any furries “had” any condition; it was merely to entertain the notion that, given the content of the fandom, there may exist some who experience a discrepancy between mental representation of self and physical self that is comparable to that seen in GID, and that for some this discrepancy may cause clinically significant distress.

    “the 2011 Furrypoll, which was completed online by over 4000 furries, showed that about 11% of furries consider themselves either non-human or part-human. This is a long way from Gerbasi’s 46%.”

    More recent numbers across five different samples over two years (with numbers as large as 4,500+ furries in some of the samples) suggests that between 25-45% of furries consider themselves to be “less than 100% human”. I’ll point out that our numbers are not incompatible with those of Furrypoll, as the questions asked were different: Furrypoll asked whether people considered themselves “non-human” or “part-human”, while we asked if a person felt “less than 100% human”. A person who felt “95%” human may answer “no” Furrypoll’s question while still answering “yes” to our question. Neither question is “more right”, they’re simply placing the threshold in different places.

    “Dr Fiona Probyn-Rapsey, who disagrees with Gerbasi: ‘There are a myriad of reasons why furry participants at a furry conference might identify as “less than 100% human,” not the least having a hangover from furry drinks the night before.‘”

    I feel that the argument I made above better accounts for the discrepancies between Furrypoll’s numbers and our numbers than the argument that a convention environment is somehow meaningfully different. We have done a number of studies where the same survey was administered both at a convention and online, and have found only minor differences (primarily having to do with age of sample or available financial resources), and almost no differences with regard to how “furry” a person was or their inherent “human-ness”. Frankly, I felt Probyn-Rapsey’s statement about “furry drinks” was insulting and trivializing to those who genuinely feel not entirely human.

    “Dr Probyn-Rapsey challenges Gerbasi’s tentative diagnosis of ‘Species Identity Disorder’ directly: ‘What might be the “treatment” for such a condition?‘”

    It should be pointed out that Dr. Gerbasi never claimed that “furry” was something to be “treated” – this is a straw man built up by Probyn-Rapsey. Dr. Gerbasi only claims that for those furries for whom the feeling of being discomfort with one’s physical body is causing significant distress, it might be worth considering it somewhat analogous to the way one would address a person who felt discomfort with the gender of their physical body. There is no attempt to “normalize” non-furry or to “pathologize” furries, only to state the very obvious: if a person’s particularly troubled by not feeling human but being trapped in a human body, it’s worth taking seriously.

    “Probyn-Raspey’s biggest problem is Gerbasi’s link between ‘Species Identity Disorder’ and Gender Identity Disorder.”

    There really is no link intended between GID and “SID” beyond the fact that it served as a convenient analogue / potential comparison. Dr. Gerbasi had no intent of validating or discrediting the diagnosis of GID, or of debating the merits or worthwhile of it as a diagnosis. Instead, she was merely observing that it was a condition that clinical psychologists currently (at the time) recognized, and that an analogue might be drawn between folks experiencing distress over their felt gender and the gender of their body and a furry who was experiencing distress over their felt species and the species of their body.

    To avoid beating a dead horse here, I’ll point out that a full rebuttal was published to Dr. Probyn-Rapsey’s article called “Why so FURious”? (http://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/brill/saa/2011/00000019/00000003/art00008); those wishing to obtain a copy can contact our team (furry.research@uwaterloo.ca).

    “It feels to me that Gerbasi has chosen to introduce ‘Species Identity Disorder’ because she was hoping to be the first to identify a new psychological phenomenon.”

    Actually, I think the answer is even simpler than that. When publishing within a field, it is necessary to tie your research to what exists within the field. If you fail to do so, you run the risk of nobody in the field caring about what you’ve said, even if it’s of potential relevance to them. For example: Dr. Gerbasi initially conducted the Anthrocon study in response to a clinical psychologist who approached her with a furry client who WAS experiencing distress over being furry (if I recall correctly, the person did not want to be furry anymore, but could not escape “furry” feelings). If Dr. Gerbasi had gone ahead and simply published an article dispelling stereotypes about furries, no one in the field would have cared: they would have said “what the hell’s a furry and why should I care?” However, by mentioning GID, anyone with an interest in self-body discrepancies, or body image issues, or clinical psychologists more generally, suddenly have a reason to read the article. It’s not necessarily for the sake of being “the first” (those who’ve met her in person know that she’s not attention-seeking or self-aggrandizing), but instead was moreso a device to ensure that the people who might have found it the most relevant would be drawn to it.

    “Her article was the first, and to date only, publication of the International Anthropomorphic Research Project, which Gerbasi heads.”

    Actually, to date the IARP has three confirmed publications in peer-reviewed academic journals (four if you count the rebuttal to Probyn-Rapsey), one currently in a “revise-and-resubmit” state, two currently under review, and two currently in the process of being written up. This is in addition to presentations and posters given at eight different academic conferences. The topics of the other published / reviewed articles focus on the use of furry community as a coping resource for members of a stigmatized recreational group, a qualitative study of furries presented to the clinical psychological community urging them to avoid trying to “cure the furry” in furry clients, and articles investigating fan group involvement and global activism and socio-structural characteristics within stigmatized minority groups. So we’ve been keeping quite busy!

    “The IARP is a grand title for three researchers operating from a small community college. And calling it ‘International’ is bit bullish seeing as it’s based on the fact that they have scientists from the United States and Canada”

    As Greenreaper correctly pointed out, the choice of the term “International” was meant to reflect the more than 70 countries from which respondents have come (including all six continents – ignoring poor Antarctica). Additionally, we are currently in the process of establishing a translated version of our surveys for use in Japan for the purpose of a cross-cultural comparison of “Furry” culture and “Kemono” culture. I’ll also mention that, to date, the IARP consists of four “regular” members (myself, at the University of Waterloo, Dr. Stephen Reysen at Texas A&M University – Commerce, Dr. Sharon Roberts at Renison University College and Dr. Gerbasi at Niagara County Community College), and has worked with / is continuing to work with more than a half-dozen other collaborators from fields as diverse as social psychology, anthropology, sociology, clinical psychology and English.

    “Plante joined their group in 2011 and is presumably on the way to earning the first ever PhD in furry studies.”

    *laughs* Actually, my PhD is in social psychology, as I’m an experimental psychologist (who, when not doing research on furries, also studies video game violence and fantasy engagement).

    “Most recently they have kicked off a longitudinal study, where they will be following furries over a significant period of time. I expect their study will dig up some interesting data, showing how we mature as members of the furry community.”

    Indeed! More specifically, we are hoping to track what happens to furries as they get into the fandom, spend time in the fandom, and (for some) choose to leave the fandom.

    “The IARP dataset from 2007 is no longer considered to be particularly large or useful. Of all the available datasets, today’s researchers are most likely to use Klisoura’s Furrypoll “

    Indeed, the original 2007 study is quite small by comparison, though we conduct studies two or three times a year which regularly have more than a thousand furry respondents! I’ll point out that Furrypoll is a FANTASTIC resource, and represents a wonderful complement our own research, given its larger sample size (owing likely to its running year-round as opposed to our surveys which are only open for a few weeks at a time) and its ability to ask questions of under-18 furries (which, unfortunately, we are prohibited from doing due to the nature of ethics boards). Comparing our research with Furrypoll is like comparing the work of biologists and organic chemists: both are valid approaches that solve different questions and, when combined, provide an even better image of the areas where they overlap!

    In response to Polkakitty:
    “I ended up concluding was that the language the surveys use and the issues they’re trying to address aren’t defined rigorously enough for the results to be meaningful.”

    I would disagree with you on this point – oftentimes the questions used on our surveys are based on well-validated and well-tested psychological measures. Oftentimes, people get grumpy with our surveys which seem to “ask the same thing ten times”. The fact is that no one question is “perfect”, and if you look at any individual question, you’ll find that, yes, they all suffer from the problem of different possible interpretations or ambiguity. However, the use of multiple different questions on a similar topic allows us to provide converging evidence for the phenomena under study (and we can confirm, using statistical tests of inter-item reliability and the creation of latent variables in structural equation models).

    “I think it might actually be possible that a substantial proportion of furries fall into a distinct personality type”

    There are a lot of different people all subsumed under the label “furry”, so I would be quite hesitant to say that there’s any one personality trait that could reliably predict furry identification (over identification in another fandom? Over not being a furry?). Furthermore, the notion of a personality “type” is overly categorical and, if anything, runs into the same problem of “putting people into boxes” that clinical diagnoses such as GID have been accused of doing! I can also say that we haven’t found any strong evidence to suggest that there is any one (or combination of) personality traits that uniquely or distinctly predicts a person being a furry (though we have reliably found that furries, as a group, tend to be more open to experience than established general population averages).

    “I think that if an anthropologist was in contact with furries for a period of years, they’d understand a lot more about us than a psychologist basically trying to diagnose a pathology… because they would have a clearer view of most furries’ values and social mores, and the symbolism and intent behind our characters.”

    And that, my friend, is the benefit of having a furry (myself) on our team, who is familiar with the values and social mores of the fandom and can generate hypotheses based on them. Additionally, our more recent research has focused on just the things you’re referring to: we have an upcoming survey which is literally all about the subject of fursonas and what fursonas mean to furries, while a qualitative study at Oklacon 2012 by our team basically put furries in front of a video camera or in a large focus group and let them speak about what it meant to be a furry in a very open-ended way!

    In response to Scale:

    “Even the powers that be in the field of psychology are beginning to understand that the field needs an overhaul because the current standard practices encourage physhcologists to label everything a “disorder” without solid evaluation criteria.”

    Actually, what you’re referring to is clinical psychology. I’ll point out that none of the four main members of the IARP are clinical psychologists, and that the vast majority of our work is on social psychology, which makes no such assertions about “disorder” or “normal” behaviour! Indeed, this is what the bulk of most of our research is, but it’s also the research we’re perhaps least known for by the community because most people are drawn to the clinical side of psychology!

    *phew* That was a long response! At any rate, thanks very much for the thoughtful criticism and for taking the time to comment on and link to our research! I’ll also encourage you to check out our LATEST results (“Furry Fiesta 2013”), which include some brand new issues in the furry fandom (e.g. pornography, employment and living arrangements, relationships, fantasy engagement, etc…).

    1. Hi Nuka. Thanks for taking the time to write such an interesting and thorough response. It’s a bit humbling that you’ve taking your (professional) time to respond to my (amateur) article, and I really appreciate it.

      I’ve had a quick chat with Makyo, [adjective]species] overlord, and he agrees with my suggestion that your response could be posted as a semi-formal article, accessible from the main page rather than hidden here in the comments. Articles tend to get read soon after posting, so fewer people will see your thoughts. Certainly, there are some people who would be very interested but would otherwise miss your comment.

      Would you be interested in having your comments, with an introductory paragraph to put them in context (and perhaps some light editing) posted as a guest article? I’d be happy to do the legwork.

      Either way, thanks again. It’s really engaging and enlightening stuff.

    2. Sorry for the generaliztion, I didn’t have a clear enough idea of the distinction between clinical psychology and social psychology. You’re doing an excellent work anyway and it will be interesting to see more professional discussion on these topics.

  4. Thanks for celebrating our research! The study was actually conducted in 2006, first presented at the Society for Research on Identity Formation conference as a poster and interactive session in 2007 and finally published in 2008. We now have an international team of researchers and have considerably expanded the scope of topics that we are exploring vis a vis furries. Our webpage is https://sites.google.com/site/anthropomorphicresearch/ and we have a new article in press in the Canadian Journal of Leisure and others in the pipeline.
    With the new DSM coming out any day now I will be returning to the new and updated Gender Identity area and see what the current definitions are. I am not a clinical psychologist. You are correct, that we wanted to simply PROPOSE, not declare it as a fact the idea of gender identity disorder. I think retrospectively I might have use the term dysphoria instead of disorder. However with the striking parallels between the items SOME furries endorse.”.I consider myself less than 100% human” and ” I would be 0% human if I could ” it is hard to ignore the similarities between what that subset of furries re species and GID re biological sex. Interestingly that study showed that furries and non furries at Anthrocon did not perceive furries as having traits associated with personality disorders.
    By the way we wrote a rebuttal to Probyn -Rapsey http://booksandjournals.brillonline.com/content/10.1163/156853011×578965;jsessionid=18j47se4ipc76.x-brill-live-01 , we felt that she missed the point of the research. The point of our study was to open the door to a scientific look at the furry community, not to conduct a literature review or critique of a concept GID, which existed at that time in the DSM. We also did not think she treated furries respectfully when she suggested they might have been partying too much when they completed the surveys.
    Our results have been replicated with a sample size of around 5000 in our largest online sample.
    We have expanded our studies to Furry Fiesta and Oklakon and of course continued at Anthrocon. We are always happy to answer questions and receive suggestions for research topics. Thank you for your support and interest.
    DrG…Kathleen C. Gerbasi,PhD

    1. Hi Dr Gerbasi

      Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment. I’m a big fan of your research, your methods, and your writing. Aside from your research goals, I think you’re making an influential contribution to furry itself, helping us work out (as a community) who we are and why we’re here. I also think it’s great that you’ve engaged with the community like nobody else has.

      Probyn-Rapsey’s article was odd, I thought. She seems to be a furry insider, and she seemed to be keen to deny things that you didn’t actually say (like the implication that you’d made an uncritical endorsement of GID). It seemed like a surprising choice for the journal too, to publish a counter-article three years later, one that read more like a letter to the editor than a piece of research. Having said that, I think her article added a worthwhile voice to the conversation (and I thought that her joke about feeling less-than-human when hungover was a good one).

      Like a lot of furries, I’ll continue to watch your research with great interest. I’m looking forward to reading your future publications. Thanks again for your time and your intelligence.

    2. Something I have felt necessary to point out repeatedly about all these surveys and studies: Sampling the attendees at furry conventions is not necessarily representative of furry fandom. It is representative of con attendees at best.

      The analogy would be attempting to define the gay male community (as was done in the past) entirely from surveys conducted at gay bars. It doesn’t work very well. You end up with various mistaken ideas, such as a lopsided picture of the age of participants, or their interests, or even their educational or financial demographics.

      1. Yup! As GreenReaper said below, this was one of our big concerns early on, when the research was done exclusively at cons. It’s the reason for us adding the entire online component of our research! The fact that most of our results generalize from convention-going furries to furries more broadly validates the vast majority of our findings and only strengthens them!

  5. I had this page pointed out to me rather by accident; it’s interesting to see that furrydom is finally noticeable enough to be receiving some formal attention.

    I wanted to bring up a couple of points here:

    Starting in 1996, on the Usenet group alt.lifestyle.furry, we published a survey of our own, called (not very originally) The Furvey. Though it largely became a document used to de-lurk on the group, its original purpose was to collect data to see if there was any common characteristics shared by furs. 540 were collected between 1996 and 2002. Some data crunching had been done before 2000; I recall that paraphilia were about 25% more common within the furry community than outside it, and that there were in fact NO common features shared by the community in any significant way. I don’t know who has the collected data, but if it can be found it might be worth adding to the data being collected now, or at least be looked at as a snapshot of what furries were like at the point when it was beginning to show some serious growth for the first time. At the time that growth was largely being driven by ALF and the so-called ‘lifestyle furs’ rather than through the art-and-fiction-oriented alt.fan.furry (yes, there was a time when Usenet was overwhelmingly where the furry community gathered) so the Furvey represents a pretty typical cross-section of the community at that time. The community was far smaller then as well, so 540 Furveys is actually a significant sample.

    The term ‘species dysphoria’ was coined in the late 90s to describe what Dr. Gerbasi has chosen to call the more pejorative ‘Species Identity Disorder.’ This came about because the Furvey was indicating that a significant number of furs reported a sense that they were ‘the wrong species’ or ‘in the wrong bodies.’ Offhand I think we figured about 10% of ‘lifestyle furs’ felt this to some degree, which agrees with the Furrypoll’s results. I don’t recall we did much about it except discuss it; it certainly wasn’t brought to the attention of anyone outside the community (though we did joke about getting it added to the next edition of DSM…)

    It will be interesting to see where all this goes over time…

    1. Hi Ron, thanks for the comment. I agree that it’s pretty cool that we have real, live, government-funded furry researchers out there, plus access to the wealth of information from the Furrypoll (furrypoll.com). (We had something like 8000 responses to the 2013 Furrypoll – the data is being crunched as we speak.)

      We have already seen some interesting trends in the year of three that [a][s] has been running. My favourite (so far) is this one – http://www.adjectivespecies.com/2012/03/19/re-evaluating-your-sexual-preference/ – that shows how furs are inclined to reevaluate their sexual preference over time. The datamine that showed this trend was provoked by the ALF Furvey: I had observed this happening among my furry friends (including myself), and was surprised to discover that ALF had noticed something going on as well. Even so, the Furrypoll data showed the trend to be (much) stronger than I would have guessed.

      We will have some more results coming up here on [a][s] in the coming months, so please do stick around. And if you haven’t already, take a look at Makyo’s video from FC2014, which was just published – it’s interesting stuff.

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