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

Arch Sex Behav. 2019 Jul;48(5):1349-1369. doi: 10.1007/s10508-018-1303-7. Epub 2019 Feb 26.


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: Autogynephilia; Erotic target identity inversions; Furries; Paraphilias; Sexual motivation; Sexual orientation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Erotica / psychology*
  • Fantasy
  • Humans
  • Internet
  • Male
  • Motivation / physiology*
  • Sexual Behavior / psychology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires