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We examined whether the psychological needs fulfilled by group membership predicted fanship (identification with a fan interest) and fandom (identification with other fans) among anime fans. Self-identified anime fans completed measures of fanship and fandom, as well as measures assessing the psychological needs met by their participation in the anime community. The results showed that there are similarities and differences between male and female anime fans in the needs met by fandom participation. Furthermore, these differences in fulfilled needs predicted differences in fanship and fandom scores. However, overall, there existed few differences between male and female anime fans in motivation to engage with the anime fandom.
The Phoenix Papers
, Vol. 3, No. 1, August 2017 56
Psychological Needs Predict Fanship and
Fandom in Anime Fans
Adam Ray, Texas A & M University-Commerce
Dr. Courtney N. Plante, Iowa State University
Dr. Stephen Reysen, Texas A & M University-Commerce
Dr. Sharon E. Roberts, Renison University College, University of Waterloo
Dr. Kathleen C. Gerbasi, Niagara County Community College
We examined whether the psychological
needs fulfilled by group membership
predicted fanship (identification with a fan
interest) and fandom (identification with
other fans) among anime fans. Self-
identified anime fans completed measures of
fanship and fandom, as well as measures
assessing the psychological needs met by
their participation in the anime community.
The results showed that there are similarities
and differences between male and female
anime fans in the needs met by fandom
participation. Furthermore, these differences
in fulfilled needs predicted differences in
fanship and fandom scores. However,
overall, there existed few differences
between male and female anime fans in
motivation to engage with the anime fandom.
Keywords: anime, fan, fanship, fandom,
identification, needs
People belong to groups as a way of
fulfilling a variety of psychological needs
(e.g., Vignoles, Regalia, Manzi, Golledge, &
Scabini, 2006). For example, social identity
theory (Tajfel & Turner, 1979) posits that
individuals belong to groups to maintain
positive and distinct social identities as part
of a broader need for positive self-evaluation.
Others suggest that group participation
fulfills a variety of needs, including efficacy,
meaning, continuity (the need to feel a
connection between the past, present, and
future), belongingness, interpersonal
distinctiveness (see Vignoles, Regalia,
Manzi, Golledge, & Scabini, 2006),
uncertainty reduction (Hogg, 2000),
friendship (Wann, 2006), social support
(Haslam, Jetten, Postmes, & Haslam, 2009),
formation of a world-view (Turner &
Onorato, 1999), and self-validation (Swann,
Kwan, Polzer, & Milton, 2003; Turner &
Onorato, 1999). In the present study we
examine these psychological needs in
members of the anime fandom, testing
whether self-identification as an anime fan
fulfills these needs and whether this
fulfillment predicts the extent and nature of
fan participation.
Fandom, Fanship, and Fan Motivation
In their research on fans, Reysen and
Branscombe (2010) found evidence for two
related, yet empirically distinct constructs,
fanship and fandom. Fanship refers to one’s
The Phoenix Papers
, Vol. 3, No. 1, August 2017 57
felt connection to a fan interest, while
fandom refers to one’s felt connection to the
fan group (i.e., other fans of the same
interest). To illustrate: the statement “I love
watching anime” reflects fanship, as it refers
to a personal interest and identification with
particular content; in contrast, the statement
“I love the anime community” reflects
fandom, as it refers to group identification
and other fans, not to content. Psychological
research on fans has focused primarily on
team identification (Wann & Branscombe,
1993), a construct analogous to fanship.
Only recently have researchers begun to
study fandom, typically doing so from a
social identity perspective (Reysen, Plante,
Roberts, & Gerbasi, 2015). And while
fanship and fandom intuitively seem to go
hand-in-hand, research has shown that they
need to be considered independently. For
example, in one study examining fan
motivations (e.g., belongingness, escape),
researchers found that sexual attraction to
others predicted the extent to which furries,
which are fans of anthropomorphism (art,
cartoons, costuming, literature), identified
with furry-themed content, but did not
predict the extent to which they identified
with other furries (Schroy, Plante, Reysen,
Roberts, and Gerbasi, in press). Put another
way, sexual attraction motivated furries to
like furry content, but did not motivate them
to identify with the broader furry community.
To this point, the reviewed literature has
shown that fans differ in their underlying
motivation and in the nature of their fan
interest. Researchers have also discovered
that sex plays an important moderating role
in fan participation. For example, female
fashion fans express greater fanship than
male fashion fans (Pentecost & Andrews,
2010), male sport fans show more extreme
fan behavior (e.g., aggressive language) than
women (Pentecost & Andrews, 2010),
female literary fans purchase more
merchandise than men (Bihagen & Katz-
Gerro, 2000; Park, Kim, & Forney, 2005),
and women tend to interpret fan content
more artistically than men; that is, females
have a greater appreciation for the artistic
nature of anime and manga, whereas men
seem to be more interested in the action and
story (Chen, 2004). Sex differences in the
motivations underlying fan participation
have also been found, particularly in the
domain of sport fans (Wann, 1995; Wann,
Schrader, & Wilson, 1999). For example,
male sport fans tend to be more motivated
than female fans by aesthetics,
entertainment, economic incentives,
escapism, eustress, and self-esteem, whereas
female fans are more motivated than male
fans by family. Reinforcing these findings,
Dietz-Uhler, Harrick, End, and Jacquemotte
(2000) found that these sex differences
could be explained by differences in social
motivation: females’ primary motive for
being a fan was to attend games and watch
sporting events with friends and family,
while male interest was more likely to be
driven by prior experience playing sports
and wanting to acquire sports information
(Dietz-Uhler et al., 2000). Taken together,
this research suggests that females enjoy
being a part of a sport fandom for the social
interaction it allows, while males tend to
prefer the entertainment value and sense of
escapism provided by the interest.
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The Anime Fandom
Anime fans are enthusiastic admirers of
Japanese animation and comic books
(manga), the extent of which can be
illustrated by the success of anime in North
America despite geographic, cultural, and
language barriers (Leonard, 2005). Anime
fans express their interest in multitudinous
ways, including watching anime and reading
manga novels, creating their own artwork,
costuming (i.e., cosplay), and other fan-
produced content (e.g., fan dubbing). As a
group, anime fans tend to be young (e.g.,
college students), male, introverted, and to
identify with other aspects of geek culture
(e.g., video games; Reysen, Plante, Roberts,
Gerbasi, & Shaw, in press). Anime fans are
stigmatized by non-fans (Reysen, Plante,
Roberts, Gerbasi, Mohebpour, & Gamboa,
2016), in part because anime fans are
atypical in comparison to sport fans, who
tend to be the prototype of a stereotypical
fan (Reysen & Shaw, in press). Anime fans
have been shown, in past research, to be
motivated by the need to belong and by the
entertainment provided by anime (Schroy et
al., in press). Others (e.g., Chen, 2004) have
suggested that female anime fans, in
particular, are motivated to interact with
other anime fans as a means of escaping
social oppression, gender discrimination,
and to express desires for an ideal romantic
While prior research has studied the
motivational factors underlying anime fans
and the way in which these factors predict
fandom and fanship among anime fans,
these motivating factors were derived from
research on sport fans (Wann, Melnick,
Russell, & Pease, 2001). In the present
research we attempt to broaden the
perspective and test the relationships
between many other psychological need by
testing the relationship between a variety of
other psychological needs (e.g.,
distinctiveness, efficacy, meaning in life)
and scores of fanship and fandom.
Current Study
The purpose of the present study is to
explore sex differences in the psychological
needs (e.g., self-esteem, belongingness)
motivating anime fans and to study whether
these needs explain sex differences in
fanship and fandom. Self-identified anime
fans completed measures assessing
psychological needs fulfillment, fanship, and
fandom. Although this study is exploratory,
we predicted, based on prior research
(Schroy et al., in press), that belongingness
would emerge as a predictor of participants’
fanship and fandom scores. We did not,
however, have any other a priori predictions.
Participants and Procedure
Participants (N = 923, 57.6% male; Mage
= 26.06, SD = 7.86) included self-identified
anime fans recruited at A-Kon (anime
convention in Dallas, TX) and through
anime-related websites. As part of a longer
questionnaire, participants completed
measures related to psychological needs,
fanship, and fandom. All measures used a 7-
point Likert-type response scale, from 1 =
strongly disagree to 7 = strongly agree.
The Phoenix Papers
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Psychological needs. To assess the
psychological needs met by anime fandom
participation, we adapted six items (“Being
a member of the anime community gives me
a sense of self-esteem,” “Being a member of
the anime community makes me feel like a
competent or capable person,” “Being a
member of the anime community gives me a
sense of “meaning” in my life,” “Being a
member of the anime community gives me a
sense of continuitybetween past, present,
and future—in my life,” “Being a member
of the anime community makes me feel
close to, or accepted by, other people,” and
“Being a member of the anime community
makes me distinct and unique compared to
other people”) from Vignoles and colleagues
(2006). These items were used to assess the
extent to which the anime community
fulfilled participants’ needs for self-esteem,
efficacy, meaning, continuity, belongingness,
and distinctiveness. Additionally, we
constructed items assessing other well-
studied psychological needs, including
reduction of uncertainty (“Being a member
of the anime community reduces the
uncertainty in my life”), friendship (“Being
a member of the anime community provides
me a way to make and maintain
friendships”), social support (“Being a
member of the anime community provides
me with social support when I need it”),
world-view (“Being a member of the anime
community provides me with a world-view
(a perspective to view the world)”), and self-
verification (“Being a member of the anime
community validates my world-view”).
Fanship. We adapted three items (“I am
emotionally connected to being an anime
fan,” “I strongly identify with being an
anime fan,” “Being an anime fan is part of
me”) from Reysen and Branscombe (2010)
to assess fanship (α = .91).
Fandom. We adapted three items (“I
strongly identify with other anime fans in
the Anime community,” “I am glad to be a
member of the anime community,” “I see
myself as a member of the anime
community”) from prior research (Doosje,
Ellemers, & Spears, 1995; Reysen,
Katzarska-Miller, Nesbit, & Pierce, 2013) to
assess identification with the fandom
= .89).
We began by examining correlations
among all assessed variables. As shown in
Table 1, all of the variables were
significantly positively related to one
another. Next, we examined differences
between men and women on the assessed
variables using a MANOVA with sex as the
independent variable and the remaining
variables as the dependent variables. The
overall test was significant, Wilks’ Lambda
= 0.97, F(13, 909) = 2.24, p = .007, ηp2
= .031. As shown in Table 2, women rated
the anime fandom as providing significantly
more self-esteem and social support than
men. We next conducted a pair of
multivariate regressions (one for males, one
for females), entering all of the
psychological needs simultaneously as
predictors of fanship. The regression was
significant for males, F(11, 520) = 39.06, p
< .001, R2 = .45, and females, F(11, 379) =
The Phoenix Papers
, Vol. 3, No. 1, August 2017 60
35.01, p < .001, R2 = .50. As shown in Table
3, fulfillment of self-esteem, meaning in life,
continuity, and distinctiveness needs
predicted fanship for men, whereas, for
women, fanship was predicted by anime’s
ability to fulfill self-esteem, meaning in life,
and world-view needs. Another pair of
regression analyses were run, this time
predicting fandom instead of fanship (see
Table 4). The regression was significant for
males, F(11, 520) = 34.83, p < .001, R2 = .42,
and females, F(11, 379) = 27.15, p < .001,
R2 = .44. For men, fandom scores were
predicted by the fulfillment of self-esteem,
meaning in life, distinctiveness, uncertainty
reduction, and friendship needs, while for
women, fandom was predicted by the
fulfillment of meaning in life, belongingness,
and distinctiveness needs.
The purpose of the present study was to
explore sex differences in psychological
needs as predictors of fanship and fandom in
anime fans. We predicted, based on prior
research, that belongingness would emerge
as a unique predictor of fanship and fandom.
This hypothesis was only partially supported,
as belongingness was not a significant
predictor of fanship, but was a significant
predictor of fandom for women (but not
men). The results showed that there were
more similarities than differences between
sexes: while some predictors were
significant for one sex but not the other,
these differences (as indicated by examining
whether the betas were significantly
different) were small enough to suggest that
these are differences of magnitude rather
than of kind.
The present findings reveal that male
and female anime fans were generally
comparable in the relationship between their
psychological needs and their degree of
fanship and fandom. This conclusion is
supported by three findings. First, self-
esteem was a significant predictor of fanship
and fandom for both men and women. These
findings, particularly the fandom result, are
consistent with social identity theory (Tajfel
& Turner, 1979), which suggests that
individuals seek to belong to groups that
allow them to maintain positive and distinct
social identities. Put succinctly, anime fans
like anime, in part, because it provides them
a positive evaluation of the self. Second, the
need for meaning in life significantly
predicted fanship and fandom for both men
and women, a finding consistent with the
idea that being a member of a group or
organization can provide one with a people a
sense of purpose (Grant & Hogg, 2012;
Vignoles et al., 2006). Finally,
distinctiveness predicted both fanship and
fandom in both men and women. This
finding is consistent with optimal
distinctiveness theory (Brewer, 1991), which
emphasizes that people have a need to stand
out meaningfully from others: liking anime
and participating in the fandom may provide
anime fans with a relatively distinct identity
(e.g., compared to more prototypical sport
fans). In sum, the data suggest that men and
women do not differ in the extent to which
anime’s ability to provide them with a sense
of self-esteem, meaning, and distinctiveness
contributes to their sense of fanship and
Despite these similarities, however,
The Phoenix Papers
, Vol. 3, No. 1, August 2017 61
some evidence suggests that male and
female anime fans may differ in the
relationship between need fulfillment and
fan participation. It is worth noting that the
only significant difference in betas was for
worldview, where the relationship between
worldview and fandom and fanship was
significantly stronger for women than for
men. Women may be more interested in the
social aspects, which is tied to worldview
validation (Turner & Onorato, 1999).
Female students considered fan behavior to
be appearing at, viewing, or cheering at
sports events with friends and family (Dietz-
Uhler et al., 2000). This is an indicator that
females consider social aspects, such as
being with friends and family, more of a
motivation to be a part of a fandom than
men, who believe being an active part of a
fandom entails participation in events, rather
than cheering on the sidelines (Antunovic &
Hardin, 2012).
Although related, fanship and fandom
have been found, in prior research, to be
empirically distinct constructs, as the
motivation to be a fan and the motivation to
be an active participant in the fandom may
not always align (Schroy et al., in press).
The results of the present study support this
point with examples of fandom and fanship
being distinctly predicted by different
psychological needs, and extending the point
by showing that these differences
themselves differ by sex. For example, for
women in the present sample, self-esteem
predicted fanship, but not fandom; in
contrast, belongingness predicted fandom,
but not fanship. were stronger predictors of
women’s connection to other fans. In
contrast, for men, continuity predicted
fanship, but not fandom, whereas
uncertainty reduction and friendship
predicted fandom, but not fanship. While
these examples illustrate the importance of
considering fandom and fanship as distinct
constructs in psychological research on fans
and suggest that there may be sex
differences in the relationship between fan
motivation and these constructs, the reasons
for these differences are beyond the scope of
the present paper. Future research would do
well to more fully explore the nature of
these differences and the possible
mechanisms underlying them.
Several limitations of the present
research are worth noting. First, the present
study was correlational. As such, it is
impossible to draw causal conclusions from
the data. Second, the items used were
imperfect operationalizations of the
constructs under study sometimes
measured indirectly, or using a single item.
Although prior research has utilized a subset
of these items (see Vignoles et al., 2006),
future studies should employ more thorough
measures to provide greater construct
validity. Finally, although the sample
consisted of both convention-going fans and
fans from a variety of countries solicited
online, the sample was predominantly
comprised of individuals from Western
countries. This is likely a likely product of
the survey being available only in English.
The results may vary if the sample contained
more individuals outside these Western
cultural spaces, and it remains for future
research to not only test the replicability of
the present findings, but to also test their
generalizability to other cultural contexts.
The Phoenix Papers
, Vol. 3, No. 1, August 2017 62
The present study was a unique
examination of the relationship between
numerous psychological needs and fanship
and fandom among anime fans. Overall, our
results suggest that male and female anime
fans are more alike than different with
respect to the psychological needs they
fulfill by participating in the anime fandom.
Nevertheless, preliminary data suggested
that there were some differences between
male and female anime fans, which future
researchers would do well to investigate to
better understand the mechanisms
underlying fandom involvement and to test
whether men and women experience
fandoms and fan cultures differently.
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Author Note
This research was supported by the Social
Sciences and Humanities Research Council
of Canada. Address correspondence to
Stephen Reysen, Department of Psychology,
Texas A&M University-Commerce,
Commerce, TX, 75429. E-mail:
The Phoenix Papers, Vol. 3, No. 1, August 2017 65
Table 1
Correlations between Assessed Variables Split by Sex (Males Top of Diagonal, Females Bottom of Diagonal)
Variable 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13
1. Fanship -- .77 .55 .51 .58 .58 .54 .56 .45 .46 .50 .45 .49
2. Fandom .78 -- .57 .51 .53 .52 .54 .53 .40 .50 .52 .39 .46
3. Self-Esteem .59 .56 -- .84 .68 .65 .68 .58 .57 .58 .67 .46 .55
4. Efficacy .56 .54 .85 -- .72 .67 .69 .58 .56 .56 .68 .50 .60
5. Meaning .63 .55 .68 .72 -- .76 .65 .60 .62 .52 .63 .54 .62
6. Continuity .58 .50 .62 .67 .69 -- .68 .58 .59 .55 .66 .58 .60
7. Belongingness .59 .60 .73 .73 .67 .68 -- .58 .54 .70 .72 .48 .54
8. Distinctiveness .56 .54 .66 .68 .62 .60 .70 -- .57 .52 .56 .51 .58
9. Less Uncertainty .55 .48 .55 .61 .74 .69 .62 .59 -- .47 .58 .48 .56
10. Friends .51 .54 .61 .61 .59 .59 .73 .59 .55 -- .71 .49 .45
11. Social Support .57 .56 .64 .64 .63 .63 .75 .59 .64 .74 -- .56 .55
12. Worldview .57 .49 .55 .60 .62 .62 .61 .60 .61 .51 .60 -- .74
13. Self-Verification .54 .48 .59 .64 .71 .64 .61 .61 .69 .55 .63 .80 --
Note. All correlations significant at p < .001.
The Phoenix Papers, Vol. 3, No. 1, August 2017 66
Table 2
Means (Standard Deviation) of Motivations, Fanship, and Fandom by Sex
Variable Men Women F p ηp2
Fanship 4.80 (1.64) 4.69 (1.75) 1.01 .316 .001
Fandom 4.91 (1.54) 4.84 (1.66) 0.41 .523 .000
Self-Esteem 4.08 (1.77) 4.36 (1.80) 5.37 .021 .006
Efficacy 3.93 (1.72) 4.13 (1.84) 2.68 .102 .003
Meaning 3.82 (1.81) 3.95 (1.98) 1.18 .278 .001
Continuity 4.29 (1.84) 4.27 (1.89) 0.03 .854 .000
Belongingness 4.44 (1.72) 4.57 (1.84) 1.20 .273 .001
Distinctiveness 4.20 (1.85) 4.36 (2.03) 1.61 .204 .002
Less Uncertainty 3.41 (1.85) 3.51 (1.96) 0.70 .404 .001
Friends 4.80 (1.71) 4.86 (1.83) 0.31 .575 .000
Social Support 4.09 (1.81) 4.40 (2.03) 6.07 .014 .007
Worldview 4.36 (1.92) 4.55 (1.99) 2.22 .137 .002
Self-Verification 3.64 (1.85) 3.71 (1.94) 0.35 .554 .000
Note. 7-point Likert-type scale, from 1 = strongly disagree to 7 = strongly agree.
The Phoenix Papers
, Vol. 3, No. 1, August 2017 67
Table 3
Motivations Predicting Fanship by Sex
Men Women
Variable (95% CI) p-value (95% CI) p-value
Self-Esteem .198 (.040, .359)a .014 .217 (.067, .387)a .004
Efficacy -.134 (-.292, .022)a .089 -.125 (-.287, .035)a .124
Meaning .185 (.051, .309)a .003 .268 (.129, .407)a < .001
Continuity .164 (.036, .291)a .011 .114 (-.023, .262)a .101
Belongingness .076 (-.050, .196)a .221 .027 (-.122, .183)a .682
Distinctiveness .245 (.139, .355)a < .001 .122 (-.002, .239)a .055
Less Uncertainty -.031 (-.132, .079)a .605 .018 (-.114, .150)a .804
Friends .044 (-.072, .152)a .467 .011 (-.115, .140)a .886
Social Support .005 (-.122, .125)a .941 .109 (-.033, .247)a .130
Worldview .036 (-.087, .163)a .542 .224 (.090, .360)b .002
Self-Verification .060 (-.061, .180)a .325 -.109 (-.252, .030)a .124
R2 .452 .594
F-value 39.06 35.01
df (11, 520) (11, 379)
Note. Standardized betas with different subscripts differ significantly (p < .05). Bootstrapping
with 5,000 iterations (95% confidence intervals).
The Phoenix Papers
, Vol. 3, No. 1, August 2017 68
Table 4
Motivations Predicting Fandom by Sex
Men Women
Variable (95% CI) p-value (95% CI) p-value
Self-Esteem .300 (.150, .451)a < .001 .157 (-.024, .332)a .085
Efficacy -.129 (-.274, .012)a .074 -.070 (-.251, .114)a .428
Meaning .115 (.009, .232)a .035 .164 (.012, .301)a .035
Continuity .101 (-.017, .219)a .097 -.012 (-.142, .130)a .899
Belongingness .054 (-.068, .173)a .382 .177 (.009, .346)a .041
Distinctiveness .194 (.095, .290)a .001 .147 (.016, .275)a .027
Less Uncertainty -.096 (-.190, -.006)a .038 -.034 (1.142, .086)a .578
Friends .149 (.026, .273)a .017 .123 (-.029, .269)a .129
Social Support .056 (-.061, .171)a .338 .097 (-.046, .236)a .188
World-View -.047 (-.155, .068)a .450 .144 (-.006, .279)b .064
Self-Verification .090 (-.032, .209)a .136 -.103 (-.254, .048)a .175
R2 .424 .441
F-value 34.83 27.15
df (11, 520) (11, 379)
Note. Standardized betas with different subscripts differ significantly (p < .05). Bootstrapping
with 5,000 iterations (95% confidence intervals).
... The most common variation of our fandom identification measure is a threeitem version ("I strongly identify with other [insert group] fans in the [insert group] community," "I am glad to be a member of the [insert group] community," "I see myself as a member of the [insert group] community") used by Schroy et al. (2016). It has been used in studies with numerous different fan groups and has successfully predict a myriad of theoretically and practically important variables including:  Fan motivation (Schroy et al., 2016)  Intergroup distinctiveness (Reysen et al., 2017a)  Felt meaning in life and self-esteem (Ray et al., 2017)  Perceived function of fandom (Reysen, Plante, & Chadborn, 2017)  Intention to attend a fan convention  Immersion into fan-related media Of the measures related to fandom discussed in this chapter, these means of assessing fandom via ingroup identification are among the most, if not the most used measures of fandom identification employed in the literature, and benefit greatly from being both concise and written in a way that allows them to be used for different fan groups, not just sport fans. 2 ...
... In other studies, fanship has been found to predict:  Self-esteem, meaning in life, distinctiveness, and having social needs (Ray et al., 2017)  Psychological well-being in a sample of anime fans (Reysen et al., 2017b)  Word-of-mouth proselytizing about one's fan interest in a sample of general fans  Concert attendance, motivation to attend concerts, and spending at concerts (Kulczynski, 2014)  Happiness, self-esteem, social connectedness, and consumption behavior in a large sample of K-Pop fans (Laffan, 2020) Together, studies like these illustrate the importance of fanship as a predictor of fan-related variables (e.g., consumption, behavior, attitudes, well-being, social interaction). The work also illustrates that this association is not limited to sport fans, despite sport fans comprising the bulk of participants in research on this topic. ...
...  Self-esteem is associated with fan identification and fan-related behavior in varsity sport fans (Wann, Schrader, & Wilson,1999;Wann, Brame et al., 2008)  In a study of Turkish sport fans, Sari et al. (2011) found that commitment to one's team predicts greater self-esteem  Greek soccer fans were motivated by self-esteem regardless of whether the team was a local one or a distant one (Lianopoulos et al., 2020)  Hu and Tang (2010) found that self-esteem motivation positively predicts fan identification in a sample of Taiwanese baseball fans.  Higher self-esteem motivation predicts less switching of favorite teams and greater team loyalty in a sample of Taiwanese sport fans (Yun-Tsan, 2017)  Self-esteem motivation is associated with engaging in fan-related activities in a sample of e-sport fans (Cushen et al., 2019) While research linking self-esteem motivation to fanship and fan behavior has primarily been done in the context of sport fans, similar results have been found in other fan groups (e.g., Edwards et al., 2019;Proudfoot et al., 2019;Ray et al., 2017;Schroy et al., 2016). Alongside other motivations, such as entertainment-seeking, desiring eustress, and wanting to belong to a group, satisfying one's need for self-esteem is among one of the strongest drivers of fan engagement for fans, sport or otherwise. ...
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Researchers across disciplines have been studying the psychology of fans for decades. Seeking to better understand fan behavior and the various factors motivating fans, researchers have studied dozens of variables in hundreds of studies of different fan groups. To date, however, there have been relatively few attempts to integrate this sizable body of work, pulling together findings across from the field to with a broader, more holistic perspective. This book does exactly that, identifying and concisely summarizing research on 28 separate lines of inquiry on the psychology of fans and integrating it all into an empirically-validated model known as the CAPE model. Useful as a textbook for a fandom studies course and as a handbook for fan researchers, this book is essential reading for anyone looking to better understand the state of fan psychology and wanting to conduct their own research exploring the ins and outs of fans of all sorts!
... Of the various fan motivations, sense of belonging and fulfillment of social needs are consistently the strongest motivators of fan identification across fan groups (Wann, 1995;Wann & James, 2019;Zhang, 2017). Like other social identities, fan identities facilitate a cyclical relationship between optimal distinctiveness to the self and increased self-esteem and well-being, which in turn reinforces the fan interest (Edwards et al., 2019;Hu & Tang, 2010;Lianopoulos et al., 2020;Ray et al., 2017;Reysen et al., 2022;Tajfel & Turner, 1979). ...
... Social identity theory provides an important theoretical foundation for both fandom studies and sexual subculture investigations, as the general principles of group identification, intergroup conflict, and emphasis on identity development in different contexts can illuminate research questions regarding stigma and digital communities (R. Brown, 2020). The overlap between fandoms and sexual subcultures is substantial, as membership can create a cyclical relationship between primary motivations of self-esteem and well-being, and continued interest in the group (Edwards et al., 2019;Langdridge & Lawson, 2019;Ray et al., 2017;Reysen et al., 2022;Wignall & McCormack, 2017;Wignall et al., 2021). Additionally, for socially stigmatized fan communities or sexual interests, both fandoms and sexual subcultures can provide a safe space and community Weeks, 1977). ...
Furries can be described as a mediacentric fandom, similar to other fandoms, which organizes around an interest in anthropomorphic art. Past research has also aimed to highlight and understand the sexual motivations of furries, leading to questions regarding the relative strength of fandom and sexual motivations for joining and maintaining membership within the group. The goal of the present study was to test the relative contributions sex- and fandom-related motivations (e.g., social belonging) have in determining furry identity to provide better conceptualizations of this unique community for future research and education. In a sample of furries (n = 1,113), participants reported sexual attraction to facets of their interest and were found to be sexually motivated to engage in specific fan behaviors. However, a series of follow-up analyses revealed that non-sexual motivations were not only stronger in magnitude than sexual motivation was, but were also much more strongly correlated with furry identification.
... Civic engagement intention is hereby examined as the antecedent variable to understand fans' collective action. Pursuing meaning or purpose in life is a widely explored aspect of fan motivation (e.g., Ray et al., 2017;Reysen et al., 2017;Tsay-Vogel & Sanders, 2017). While fans' celebrity worship emphasizes a hedonic and pleasurable aspect, pursuing meaning or purpose in life represents a eudemonic and self-actualizing aspect (Oliver & Raney, 2011), including the craving for engagement in civic life. ...
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Enabled by social media, the data frenzy in the data-driven fandom culture in China has attracted widespread attention. Unlike most forms of data labor and fan activities, Chinese fans’ online data-making behavior ( zuoshuju) appears tedious, time- and money-consuming, and overwhelmingly irrational. Therefore, this study aimed to examine the sociopsychological motivation of fans’ online data-making behavior from a collective action perspective. Based on survey data from 588 respondents with fandom experiences online in China, this study (1) distinguished two types of online data-making (operational and monetary); (2) suggested that celebrity worship and civic engagement intention were antecedents of online data-making; and (3) found that fan communities facilitated by social media bridged the effects of sociopsychological factors and data-making behavior. This research introduced the collective action perspective and constructed a quantitative path model to test the underlying mechanism and impetus of fans’ data-making practices in China, adding quantitative support to the knowledge of the hybrid pattern of collective actions embedded in the datafication world. It contributes to the understanding of Chinese youth culture and civic engagement through social media.
... However, these results, too, converge with other research showing greater identification with characters outside the context of the anime fandom (e.g., Cohen, 2003Cohen, , 2004Eyal & Cohen, 2006). Finally, there is little difference between male and female fans with respect to the psychological needs (e.g., meaning in life, belongingness) satisfied by membership in the anime fandom (Ray, Plante, Reysen, Roberts, & Gerbasi, 2017). However, it should be noted that all these studies primarily sampled anime fans from Western cultures (e.g., United States, Canada). ...
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Prior research, predominantly focusing on Western fans, has found that the anime fandom is comprised of a majority of males (Reysen, Plante, Roberts, Gerbasi, Mohebpour, & Gamboa, 2016). In the present research we assessed whether this tendency held true in a Filipino and US samples. Specifically, Filipino and US college students completed measures of engagement with anime content and identification with the anime fandom. Converging with prior research, the results showed that males were more engaged with anime (i.e., watching anime, reading manga, reading news, talking with others about anime) and showed higher identification with the anime fandom than females in both samples. Mediation analyses showed that identification with the fandom mediated the relationship between participant sex and engagement with anime. Together, the results highlight the importance of fandom identification to predict engagement with fandom content and the expanding evidence of gender disparity within the fandom in both the Philippines and the US.
... They may end up being nit; people who stay at home most of their time and spend almost all of their time watching anime and playing video games. Anime audiences use anime not only for entertainment but, according to Ray et al. (2017), watching it, they fulfill their self-teem and the need to have friends; seek meaning in life; distinctiveness, uncertainty reduction, and belongingness. ...
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Anime is a popular media in Iran nowadays, and some anime Instagram fan pages have over 400 hundred followers. Iranian anime audiences use the Instagram platform to gain news about anime, access anime broadcast and download resources and share and audit unofficial fans' content creations. Due to the lack of news websites' coverage about anime and lack of anime news websites in Persian, Iranian anime fan-pages admins volunteer to translate anime news, usually from English and share the contents on an Instagram platform for the rest of the audiences. Applying Henry Jenkins' participatory culture and convergence culture concepts, we prepared a questionnaire. We asked 387 anime audiences who were Instagram users about how often they watch anime, how often they read and watch anime fan-pages content, how often they participate in fandom chats and discussions. We saw an evident association for watching anime and reading and watching anime fan-pages content, while we saw a moderate association for watching anime and participating in fandom chats and discussions.
... Thus, female respondents willingly paid for subscriptions online and purchased anime figurines, hardcopy manga and other merchandise to support the artists; males invested in video games and tournaments to support Japanese artists because they favoured the digital experience of playing fictional characters 49 . ...
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The satellite TV revolution in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in the early 1990s precipitated the proliferation of foreign media broadcasts. Japanese anime dubbed into Arabic became the most-watched content in Emirati households, a trend that continues to date because the Japanese entertainment and digital media industry offers youngsters easy access to and diverse options for anime. This paper provides an overview and analysis of the growing popularity of anime fandoms in the UAE to ascertain the level of commitment, involvement and the moral perceptions of Emirati fans vis-à-vis Japanese pop culture. A focus group discussion was conducted in a leading UAE university among the otaku or aficionados of Japanese anime (males and females). The participant responses offered comprehensive insights into the fandom trends of the region and articulated interesting opinions on Japanese pop culture and digital media accessibility. Notably, the findings of this study suggested that the enthusiasm of this fan following is often obstructed rather than celebrated and thus cannot achieve its potential. Therefore, the study finally contemplates how Emirati otaku and their practices may be better supported in UAE.
This study analyses how affective stance is used for evaluation and positioning in fan discourse. Adopting a corpus-based approach, the paper focuses on affective stance verbs in an English-speaking popular media fandom on three social media platforms, Twitter, Tumblr, and Reddit. Fans use affective stance to construct positions in relation to the popular media franchise, in this case a popular Japanese manga and anime series. By combining quantitative and qualitative linguistic analysis the study shows that stancetaking verbalises fans’ investment in the fictional world of the narrative media, in the franchise production, and in the context of fan productivity. The discursively constructed positions reflect common fan practices such as publicising fan affect and emotions, reviewing the franchise critically, and sharing textual fan productivity. The analysis associates platform differences with the social norms of the fans and the technological affordances that enable their interaction. Because hashtag-based interaction on micro-blogs is primarily indirect, the study argues that the interactive functions of stance can be understood in relation to the general fandom affect.
This article discusses the impact of Japanese animated cartoons (or ‘anime’) in two European key markets, Italy and France. It first provides a theoretical perspective on anime’s features that appeal to global audiences, pointing out ‘universal’ and ‘particular’ aspects of this medium’s contents, morals, storytelling, and visual styles. The author posits that the notion taken for granted in much scholarship as well as among Japanese government agencies, according to which anime’s popularity would be mainly due to its being ‘cool’, is overrated, arguing that it is elsewhere that the audience’s affection is to be identified. The second part discusses the success of anime in Italy and France from the late 1970s, showing how its deep popular penetration in the two countries was due to its sudden and massive presence in an age dominated by a model of media consumption based on nationwide broadcastings and theatrical releases. The crisis of such model due to changes in media content’s distribution and consumption, which occurred from the 2000s on, did not severely affect anime’s popularity in these two markets, by virtue of the depth of its previous mainstream circulation: a phenomenon the author reads also through the Gramscian category of ‘national-popular’.
Korean pop culture (K-Pop) has spread its influence outside of Korea to a worldwide fan audience. The present study investigated the self-categorised K-Pop fandom characteristics that predicted higher levels of K-Pop fanship, and subsequent psychosocial outcomes. Social identity theory was applied as a theoretical framework. In total, 1477 K-Pop fans from 92 predominantly Western countries fully completed an extensive online survey measuring fanship, fandom and psychosocial outcomes (happiness, self-esteem and social connectedness). Results of this study indicated that K-Pop fanship was significantly predicted by a several K-Pop demographic and fandom characteristics. K-Pop fanship was a significant predictor of increased happiness, self-esteem and social connectedness. The study findings advance the application of social identity theory in a K-Pop fan context and the psychological fanship research more broadly.
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We examined differences between cosplaying and non-cosplaying anime fans with regard to their motivation to participate in the anime fandom. Participants, all anime fans, completed scales assessing a myriad of possible motivations for anime fandom participation. Cosplayers rated all of the assessed motivations higher than non-cosplayers. The highest-rated motivations for cosplayers included entertainment, escape from everyday life, belongingness, eustress, and aesthetic beauty. Modest sex differences were also found, as women were more likely than men to cosplay and, even among cosplayers, women reported higher belongingness, family, self-esteem, and escape motivations. With the exception of sexual attraction, however, where men were considerably more motivated by sexual attraction than women, the effect sizes for sex differences were fairly small, suggesting little true difference between male and female cosplayers. The results are discussed in relation to past research examining anime cosplayers.
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In the present study we examined the fan category prototype and associations between prototypicality of a fan, normality of fan interests, and prejudice toward fan groups. Participants reported their stereotypical image of a fan, rated fan categories (i.e., sport, music, media, hobby) concerning prototypicality, normality, and societal status, and rated 40 different fan groups on prototypicality, normality, and feelings toward fans (i.e., prejudice). The results supported the notion that sport fan is the default association with the category “fan.” Ratings of specific fan groups showed a strong association between viewing fan groups as prototypical of the category fan, perceiving the fan interests as normal, and positive prejudice toward fans in those groups. Overall, the findings suggest deviation from the fan prototype is related to viewing the fan interest as abnormal, which, in turn, predicts negative prejudice toward fans.
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We examined several plausible motivators of fans in three different fandoms and the association of these motivators with fan group identification. Self-identified anime fans, furries, and fantasy sport fans completed measures of fanship (psychological connection with a fan interest), fandom (psychological connection with others sharing the same interest), and the factors motivating them to engage in fan activities (e.g., escapism, belongingness). The three fan groups differed in both mean ratings of fanship and fandom, and were driven by different motivations. Different motivations, in turn, were found to differently predict fanship and fandom. These results suggest that fan groups may differ not just in content, but on important psychological variables, including the motivation underlying fan participation.
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We tested the veracity of existing stereotypes about anime fans. Self-identified anime fans, both convention-going and online, completed a survey which assessed demographic variables and measures of stereotype-consistent behaviors, attitudes, and physical appearance. Furry fans, fantasy sport fans, and a sample of undergraduate college students served as comparison groups. Of the 24 stereotypes tested in the present study, only nine showed evidence of being consistent with anime fans’ self-descriptions. These results reveal a significant discrepancy between non-fan perceptions of anime fans and the actual beliefs and behaviors of anime fans.
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We examined the content of anime fan stereotypes in a sample of non-fans (N = 146). Self-identified non-fans of anime wrote about a prototypical anime fan and rated the prototype’s personality their desired social distance from the prototype. Participants also rated their endorsement of specific stereotypes of anime fans, their perceptions of anime fan motivation, and their estimates of anime fan demographics. Anime fans were perceived to be introverted, creative, socially awkward nerds who are detached from reality and escape life through the consumption of anime, manga, and computer games. Perceived introversion predicted greater desired distance from a prototypical anime fan while perceived creativity predicted less desired distance. Perceived social awkwardness, interest in Japanese products, and detachment from reality predicted prejudice against anime fans. These findings support theories suggesting that anime fans experience ambivalent prejudice from outside the fandom.
The emergence of social media has provided a space for discourse and activism about sports that traditional media outlets tend to ignore. Using a feminist theoretical lens, a textual analysis of selected blogs on the Women Talk Sports blog network was conducted to determine how fandom and advocacy for women’s sports were expressed in blog posts. The analysis indicated that bloggers enhance the visibility of women’s sports, but their engagement with social issues varies. Some bloggers may reproduce hegemonic norms around sports and gendered sporting bodies, while others may offer a more critical, decidedly feminist view and challenge dominant ideologies. While the blogosphere, and particularly networks such as Women Talk Sports, can serve as a venue for activism around women’s sports and the representation of athletic bodies, its potential to do so may be unmet without a more critical perspective by participants.
In the present chapter we use a social identity theoretical perspective to examine the furry fandom. After reviewing social identity and self-categorization theories, we detail the results of empirical research utilizing the theories to examine furries’ psychological well-being, identity management, distinctiveness threats to the group, motivation to participate in the furry community, and the prosocial prototypical content associated with the furry fandom.
The medium of Japanese animation is a powerhouse in the world of alternative entertainment. Proselytization by fans ignited the anime movement in America, despite Japanese copyright holders’ abandonment of the American market. This historical and cultural analysis demonstrates that fans’ continual infringement of copyright between 1976 and 1993 spurred the progress of commerce and the arts. Introducing the concept of cultural sinks, this analysis explains these phenomena in terms of demand formation, the role of commons and the causational links between the fans, artists, rights holders and markets that characterize the globalization of culture.