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The “Furry” Phenomenon: Characterizing Sexual Orientation, Sexual Motivation, and Erotic Target Identity Inversions in Male Furries

  • Kevin J. HsuEmail author
  • J. Michael Bailey
Original Paper

Abstract

Furries are individuals who are especially interested in anthropomorphic or cartoon animals (e.g., Bugs Bunny). They often strongly identify with anthropomorphic animals and create fursonas, identities of themselves as those anthropomorphic animals. Some practice fursuiting, or wearing costumes that resemble anthropomorphic animals. Furries have been portrayed as sexually motivated in the media and popular culture, although little empirical research has addressed this issue. If some furries are sexually motivated, they may be motivated by an erotic target identity inversion (ETII): sexual arousal by the fantasy of being the same kinds of individuals to whom they are sexually attracted. Furries with ETIIs would experience both sexual attraction to anthropomorphic animals and sexual arousal by fantasizing about being anthropomorphic animals, because they often change their appearance and behavior to become more like anthropomorphic animals. We surveyed 334 male furries recruited from the Internet about their sexual orientation, sexual motivation, and sexual interests. A large majority of our sample reported non-heterosexual identities (84%) and some degree of sexual motivation for being furries (99%). Male furries also tended to report a pattern of sexual interests consistent with an ETII involving anthropomorphic animals. Both sexual attraction to anthropomorphic animals and sexual arousal by fantasizing about being anthropomorphic animals were nearly universal. Furthermore, male furries tended to be sexually aroused by fantasizing about being the same kinds of anthropomorphic animals to whom they were sexually attracted, with respect to gender and species. This sexual motivation and these unusual sexual interests do not justify discrimination or stigmatization.

Keywords

Furries Sexual orientation Sexual motivation Erotic target identity inversions Autogynephilia Paraphilias 

Notes

Acknowledgments

We thank Patch O’Furr, Kadamon Wolf, Liondog Ari, Debra W. Soh, and Ian V. McPhail for their support and helpful feedback about survey design, participant recruitment, and the manuscript.

Funding

This study was supported by the Student Research Development Award from the International Academy of Sex Research.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Human and Animal Rights

All procedures performed in this study were approved and in accordance with the ethical standards of Northwestern University’s Institutional Review Board for research involving human participants.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyNorthwestern UniversityEvanstonUSA

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