We examined perceptions of optimal distinctiveness in the furry fandom and the relationship between this perception and identification with the furry fandom. Self-identified furries (N = 2998) completed measures of optimal distinctiveness that included felt inclusion/belongingness with the fandom and a measure of perceived group distinctiveness from other groups. Participants also completed a measure of identification with the fandom. Results revealed an interaction between felt belongingness and perceived distinctiveness that predicted fandom identification. Furries who felt both a high degree of belonging/inclusion to the fandom and who perceived the group to be distinct from other fandoms expressed the highest level of identification with the fandom. The results support prior optimal distinctiveness research and demonstrate that furries’ motivation to feel psychologically connected to the furry fandom is driven, in part, by the need for optimal distinctiveness.
This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Price includes VAT for USA
Abrams, D. (1994). Political distinctiveness: an identity optimizing approach. European Journal of Social Psychology, 24, 357–365.
Abrams, D. (2009). Social identity on a national scale: optimal distinctiveness and young people’s self-expression through musical preference. Group Processes and Intergroup Relations, 12, 303–317.
Andrijiw, A. M., & Hyatt, C. G. (2009). Using optimal distinctiveness theory to understand identification with a nonlocal professional hockey team. Journal of Sport Management, 23, 156–181.
Brewer, M. B. (1991). The social self: on being the same and different at the same time. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 17, 475–482.
Dimmock, J. A., & Gucciardi, D. F. (2008). The utility of modern theories of intergroup bias for research on antecedents to team identification. Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 9, 284–300.
Gerbasi, K. C., Paolone, N., Higner, J., Scaletta, L. L., Bernstein, P. L., Conway, S., & Privitera, A. (2008). Furries from A to Z (Anthropomorphism to Zoomorphism). Society and Animals, 16, 197–222.
Hogg, M. A. (2000). Subjective uncertainty reduction through self-categorization: a motivational theory of social identity processes. European Review of Social Psychology, 11, 223–255.
Hoverd, W. J., Atkinson, Q. D., & Sibley, C. G. (2012). Group size and the trajectory of religious identification. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 51, 286–303.
Leonardelli, G. J., Pickett, C. L., & Brewer, M. B. (2010). Optimal distinctiveness theory: a framework for social identity, social cognition, and intergroup relations. Advances in Experimental Social Psychology, 43, 63–113.
Mock, S. E., Plante, C. N., Reysen, S., & Gerbasi, K. C. (2013). Deeper leisure involvement as a coping resource in a stigmatized leisure context. Leisure/Loisir, 37, 111–126.
Papyrina, V. (2012). If I want you to like me, should I be like you or unlike you? The effect of prior positive interaction with the group on conformity and distinctiveness in consumer decision making. Journal of Consumer Behavior, 11, 467–476.
Plante, C. N., Roberts, S., Reysen, S., & Gerbasi, K. (2014a). Interaction of socio-structural characteristics predicts identity concealment and self-esteem in stigmatized minority group members. Current Psychology, 33, 3–19.
Plante, C. N., Roberts, S., Reysen, S., & Gerbasi, K. C. (2014b). “One of us”: engagement with fandoms and global citizenship identification. Psychology of Popular Media Culture, 3, 49–64.
Plante, C. N., Roberts, S. E., Reysen, S., & Gerbasi, K. C. (2015). “By the numbers”: Comparing furries to related fandoms. Manuscript submitted for publication.
Plante, C. N., Roberts, S. E., Snider, J. S., Schroy, C., Reysen, S., & Gerbasi, K. (2015). “More than skin-deep”: Biological essentialism in response to a distinctiveness threat in a stigmatized fan community. British Journal of Social Psychology.
Reysen, S., & Branscombe, N. R. (2010). Fanship and fandom: comparisons between sport fans and non-sport fans. Journal of Sport Behavior, 33, 176–193.
Reysen, S., & Lloyd, J. D. (2012). Fanship and fandom in cyber space. In Z. Yan (Ed.), Encyclopedia of cyber behavior (pp. 292–300). Hershey, PA: IGI Global.
Reysen, S., & Shaw, J. (2015). Sport fan as the default fan: Why non-sport fans are stigmatized. The Phoenix Papers.
Reysen, S., Katzarska-Miller, I., Nesbit, S. M., & Pierce, L. (2013). Further validation of a single-item measure of social identification. European Journal of Social Psychology, 43, 463–470.
Reysen, S., Hall, T., & Puryear, C. (2014). Friends’ accuracy and bias in rating group identification. Current Psychology, 33, 644–654.
Reysen, S., Plante, C. N., Roberts, S. E., & Gerbasi, K. C. (2015). Social identity perspective of the furry fandom. Manuscript submitted for publication.
Riketta, M. (2008). “Who identifies with which group?” The motive-feature match principle and its limitations. European Journal of Social Psychology, 38, 715–735.
Roberts, S. E., Plante, C. N., Gerbasi, K. C., & Reysen, S. (2015). Clinical interaction with anthropomorphic phenomenon: Notes for health professionals about interacting with clients who possess this unusual identity. Health & Social Work.
Schroy, C., Plante, C. N., Reysen, R., Roberts, S. E., & Gerbasi, K. C. (2015). Different motivations as predictors of psychological connection to fan interest and fan groups in anime, furry, and fantasy sport fandoms. The Phoenix Papers.
Sheldon, K. M., & Bettencourt, B. A. (2002). Psychological need-satisfaction and subjective well-being within social groups. British Journal of Social Psychology, 41, 25–38.
Shore, L. M., Randel, A. E., Chung, B. G., Dean, M. A., Ehrhart, K. H., & Singh, G. (2011). Inclusion and diversity in work groups: a review and model for future research. Journal of Management, 37, 1262–1289.
Slotter, E. B., Duffy, C. W., & Gardner, W. L. (2014). Balancing the need to be “me” with the need to be “we”: applying optimal distinctiveness theory to the understanding of multiple motives within romantic relationships. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 52, 71–81.
Tajfel, H., & Turner, J. C. (1979). An integrative theory of intergroup conflict. In W. Austin & S. Worchel (Eds.), The social psychology of intergroup relations (pp. 33–47). Monterey: Brooks/Cole.
Tropp, L. R., & Wright, S. C. (2001). Ingroup identification as the inclusion of ingroup in the self. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 27, 585–600.
Turner, J. C., Hogg, M. A., Oakes, P. J., Reicher, S. D., & Wetherell, M. (1987). Rediscovering the social group: A self-categorization theory. Oxford: Blackwell.
Vignoles, V. L., Regalia, C., Manzi, C., Golledge, J., & Scabini, E. (2006). Beyond self-esteem: influence of multiple motives on identity construction. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 90, 308–333.
Wann, D. L. (1995). Preliminary validation of the sport fan motivation scale. Journal of Sport and Social Issues, 19, 377–396.
This research was supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council.
About this article
Cite this article
Reysen, S., Plante, C.N., Roberts, S.E. et al. Optimal Distinctiveness and Identification with the Furry Fandom. Curr Psychol 35, 638–642 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12144-015-9331-0
- Optimal distinctiveness