First, the researchers want to sincerely
thank all the Bronies and their family and friends for everyone’s co-operation in completing our surveys.
The Brony survey was particularly long and detailed; however, we received 1300 responses in 72 hours, which is an almost
unheard-of sample for psychological research. We believe this response reflects a dedication to our
project and its goal of helping the world to a truthful understanding of the Brony community.Before we begin to share the study results with you we would like to outline the
general purpose and goals of our study:
To answer the
question “Who are these Bronies?” by looking at general population characteristics for example, age, gender. In
addition, this information will allow us to address some reoccurring MYTHs about Bronies, for example: “It’s
a gay thing!”
To better understand the range
of “fan behaviors” displayed by Bronies (e.g., read fan fiction; recruit new members; ask WWPD; etc.).
This information will help us to better understand the different functions/benefits that being a Brony plays in people’s
To determine whether different
“Types of Bronies” exist and what fan behaviors and personality characteristics differentiate these types.
Finally, we would
like to note that it is our goal as researchers to maintain a detached scientific attitude towards the Brony community.
We have heard some concerns expressing the idea that research studies like ours always end up expressing negative and
derogatory results. Please understand that it is our goal to find the “truth” about the Brony community and to
let the “data speak.” One of us has no direct connection to the community; however, for the
other it is personal. Just three months ago a happily adjusted family member announced to the world: “I
am a Brony!” With that statement this research project was born out of a desire to understand and
an attitude of acceptance and a sense of fascination.
Who are the Bronies?
We are far from
the point that we can present a thorough analysis of this question with respect to Bronies versus the general population.
This is a result of the disappointing lack of responses by the general population (150 as of this writing).
But in going through the data we are able to give you a general picture of the Brony population.
In addition, we can use this data to dispel some common myths about Bronies. So here it is, and we doubt that those
of you who took the survey will be surprised – we weren’t.
Gender: First of all, while 87% of the respondents were male, almost one in eight respondents were female.
Obviously, the term Brony conveys the idea of the population as “males who like My Little Pony.” However,
it appears that while some female fans of MLP have adopted the term “Pegasister” other use the Brony label.
For purposes of our current study we will use the term Brony to cover both male and female adult fans of MLP. Please
note: In later analyses we will look at male and female Bronies as separate groups.
Myth: Being a Brony is a male thing!
BUSTED as Not True
Age: Most (53%) of our subjects were under the age of 20 with the next largest group
(41%) being between 20 and 30 years old. The average age of our population was 21.33 with our oldest Brony
being 57 years old. In fact there were only 9 subjects over the age of 40. Clearly the
Bronies in our study represent a late teen and young adult population.
Myth: Most Bronies are young people! True…
However, it is possible that our study failed to attract older Bronies or that we failed to recruit them in the internet sites
they frequently visit.
Sexual Orientation: Some people might ask why we inquired about sexual orientation when it often represents a very personally
and politically sensitive topic. This is true, however, one of the prevailing reactions by people when they first hear about
Bronies is to state “It must be a gay thing!” Not surprising to us, 70% of the Bronies
described themselves as being heterosexual. Twelve percent identified themselves as bisexual, and
only 2% as homosexual. Nine percent labeled themselves as Asexual or not interested in sex and 3% were
unsure of their orientation. In general the population was very open in discussing their orientation as
only 2% choose to not respond to this question.
Myth: Being a Brony is a sign of a homosexual orientation! Busted as Not True
Nineteen percent of the Bronies are currently students in High School and an addition 15% have completed HS. The largest group
of Bronies (43%) is currently in college with an additional 15% who are college graduates. Five percent
of the population are currently in or have completed advanced graduate degrees.
Myth: Bronies are highly educated and/or students!
True… with sixty three percent of the Bronies in or having completed college they represent
an educated population.
Regions of the World: To our surprise, the Brony Phenomenon has a worldwide reach! Bronies
from all over the world responded to our survey. Not surprisingly 69% were from North America, however,
21% were from Europe, 7% were from “down under” and 2% from South America. Both Asia and Africa
were sparsely represented! It is possible that language issues may have impeded these Bronies from participation
or that we failed to recruit them in the internet site they frequently visit.
Myth: The Brony Phenomenon is an American (North American)
thing! Busted as Not True
These represent a simple
presentation of the Demographic data from the survey. As you can see it has addressed several persistence
myths about Bronies.
Brony Fan Behaviors
Now that we have discussed the demographic makeup of our Brony population it is time to talk about our second
How do Bronies differ in their interest and approach toward MLP?
Any study of a group of fans
is going to look at how they view the object of fan interest (MLP in this case) and the specific behaviors, both public and
private, that they display. Understanding these factors helps explain differences between Bronies and allows
us to look for “types” of Bronies. The 100+ items that asked Bronies about their thoughts,
feelings and behaviors/actions towards MLP were studied using a series of Factor Analyses. The items had been chosen/created based on interviews with Bronies
and research factors that have been found to influence “Avid” fan behaviors in other areas (e.g., sports, movies,
etc.). These analyses produced sixteen dimensions/factors upon which Bronies differ. Here is a brief presentation
of each along with an item from the survey that best captures this dimension. Please note that we have included the percentage
of variance that each factor accounted for, in general the larger this number the stronger that factor is within the Brony
Initial Reaction to MLP
Two factors were found to best capture the Bronies’ initial reaction to MLP. They are:
Negative Reaction - (29%
of the variance) This represented a general negative reaction and is represented by the item “I thought
the idea that I might like MLP was strange and creepy.”
Reaction – (21% of the variance) This
represented a general positive reaction and is represented by the item “I thought it was cool and something I could
be passionate about."
It is interesting that the initial negative reaction is the stronger reaction, and leads to a question of how these Bronies overcame this initial reaction to become
important question to ask is “what do the Bronies like about the MLP show?” Individual Bronies
may like very different aspects of the show. Two factors were found to best explain their interest. They
ShowFeel – (46% of the variance) This represents a strong response
to the feelings generated by the show and is represented by the item “I find myself drawn onto the total experience
of the show, the feelings cannot be put (adequately) into words.”
– (14% of the variance) This represents a response to the stimulus qualities (color, action, story
line, etc.) of the show and is represented by the item “I very much enjoy the action and animation of the show.”
Please note that individual Bronies
maybe high in one of the two, both or neither. In addition, the amount of variance accounted for by the ShowFeel factor seems
to indicate that it is the feelings produced by the show that are most important for the majority of Bronies.
This group of items tried to capture the actions/behaviors of the
Bronies with respect to their interest in MLP. The analyses found four groups of these behaviors:
Engaged Fan – (32% of the variance)
This group of items relates to the Brony’s interaction with the larger Brony community and is represented
by the item “I frequently read MLP fan fiction, and/or follow MLP themed web postings and meme threads.”
Visible Fan – (8% of the variance) These items related to public (or
potentially public) behaviors that display to others an interest in MLP it is represented by the item “I collect/own
Dedicated Fan – (6% of the variance)
These items all pertain to a willingness to sacrifice time and efforts on MLP that could be spent with
family and friends. It is represented by the item “I have sacrificed spending time with family and
nonBrony friends so that I could be involved with MLP.”
Rerun Fan – (5% of the variance) This group of items relate to the Brony’s dedication
to the show and their interest in returning to watch the episodes repeatedly. It is represented by the
item “I often watch a MLP episode a second time to see what I might have missed.”
The amount of variance accounted for by these factors indicates that
the social function (engagement) of being a Brony and interacting with other Bronies plays a significant role in the Brony
A set of items were included to
assess the degree and nature of an individuals identification with the Brony community. This analysis yielded
ID – (38% of the variance) This group
of items indicates a comfort with and willingness to go public with ones “Bronyhood.” It is represented by the
item “I am comfortable talking to people about MLP and admitting that I am a Brony.”
– (16% of the variance) These items relate to feeling “special” as a Brony.
It is represented by the item “As a Brony I feel like I am part of a special group of people.”
Social Interaction Aspects
– (30% of the variance) This group of items relates to positive social interactions with peers about
MLP and is represented by the item “If I hear someone using a MLP phase I immediately expect that we will become friends.”
Family Involvement – (18% of the variance) These items indicate a degree
of family members’ involvement with MLP. It is represented by the item “Some of my family members
watch MLP regularly.”
– (12% of the variance) This group of items relate to feelings of isolation, a lack of interest in
meeting other Bronies and somewhat negative feelings toward other Bronies. It is represented by the item
“Few of my peer group watch MLP.”
Once again we see the apparent importance of the social aspect of being a Brony as well as an indication of an isolated
subgroup within the population.
Individuals can find meaning and guidance in very different activities.
In an effort to investigate the importance of MLP can play in Bronies lives a number of items asked about meaning and
guidance. Two factors emerged:
Guidance – (43% of the variance) These items relate to finding a sense of guidance
within MLP. It is represented by the item “The MLP moral message represents a realistic approach you can use to face
Faith – (16% of the variance)
This group of items relates to the central priority of MLP in a Brony’s life and it’s almost religious
nature. It is represented by the item “It (MLP) is my number one priority, all that I can think about.”
series of items were generated based on the Boy Scout Oath as these represent qualities that are often held up as an ideal.
Virtues Expressed – (50% of the variance) A single factor using all nine
items relate to the level of “virtues” emphasized by the MLP characters and story lines. The
most important of these virtues was “Kindness (Showing compassion towards others whether they are friends or strangers).”
Individual Bronies can score high or low on these sixteen factors in a multitude of combinations. It
is important to look for patterns within these factors and how these patterns are related to personality variables.
These sixteen Fan Factors will now be used to create profiles of the different TYPES OF BRONIES.
Again, thank you for your help… visit
the webpage later next week for further results and always remember to spread the word about our study to any and all Bronies
Types of Bronies and the Final Results
We would like to thank all of our loyal Bronies
who have waited with a great deal of patience for this installment of results. Like any good research endeavor
we have answered some questions and raised many new ones! Part of the reason it has taken more than a week to post these results
is that we struggled with the issue of how to best present the results before we realized that we really have two questions
to answer. One question has to do with the existence of “types of Bronies” and the other has
to do with the prediction of Brony fan behavior. We will first speak to the question of Types of Bronies:
Finding Types of Bronies:
Within the field of Psychology there is considerable discussion about the usefulness of placing things into a Typology
(labeled categories). Most people look towards this information (i.e., What type of teacher are they?)
to help make decisions (i.e., Should I take this class?) or predictions (i.e., Is this someone I can trust?).
Psychologist will often point out that the down side of this approach is that you lose a lot of information (unique
details) when you force people, object or events into rigid categories (i.e., putting round pegs into a large square hole).
However, it seems to be a natural human process to create such categories. If you are so inclined
please look for yourself or the Bronies you know in this Brony Typology, however, do not be distressed or overly critical
if you DO NOT find an exact fit for yourself or the Bronies you know. Some individuals will fall on the boundary between
categories and not fit neatly into one “Type” of Brony.
Now that we have established the various ways in which Bronies can differ with respect to their interest
in and approach to MLP it is time to look for patterns of these behaviors which can be thought of as “types” of
Bronies. Excluding the Bronies initial reaction to MLP from the equation, the other fourteen factors were
analyzed using a second Factor Analysis. These results found two consistent patterns or Higher Order Factors:
1) The Social Factor (45.6% of the variance) The largest and strongest pattern, a high
score on this factor was associated with both of the Moral aspects described as Faith and Guidance which indicates
an interest in the show and its moral message that may reach an almost religious fever and depth of conviction.
A high score on this factor indicated that all four of the Fan Behavior factors (Engaged, Rerun, Dedicated
and Visible) were important. Such an individual would appear to be a highly social, dedicated and
an openly visible Brony. In addition, individuals with high scores appear to feel special (SpecialID) about their inclusion
in the Brony community and they reportedly find the feelings generated by MLP (ShowFeel) to be more important than
the appearance or action of the show (ShowQual).
2) The Isolation Factor (10.3% of the variance) A smaller pattern,
individuals scoring high on this factor stand out because of their sense of isolation from the more social members of the
Brony community (high Isolated Negative). They are unable to share their interest with family and friends (low Family
Involvement) and do not display public or visible signs of their interest in MLP (low PublicID and low Visible
Fan). Individuals with high scores may not feel comfortable or safe even with other Bronies.
Four Types of Bronies
The next step in our process is to use these new factors to
create our Brony Types. First a Social factor and Isolation factor score was calculated each subject in
our study. Then these scores were classified as being either in the upper or lower distribution (a High
score or Low score). This allowed us to place each subject into one of four groups: High Social
– Low Isolation; High Social – High Isolation; Low Social – High Isolation; Low Social – Low Isolation.
These four groups were then compared on
two sets of variables: a series of personality variable which were assessed by the survey, and a set of variables concerning
the Bronies initial reaction to MLP, how they discovered MLP and the level of virtues they saw in the MLP characters and storylines.
Here is a description of each type of Brony based upon these comparisons:
1) Social Brony
(High Social – Low Isolation) [37.5% of all study subjects, 78% describe themselves as heterosexual] For these individuals being a Brony may at times provide them with a strong sense of moral guidance and they
would generally be described as dedicated and engaged fans. These are the Bronies that are most
likely to attend BronyCons, “ponytize” their belongings and wear MLP merchandise clothing. They enjoy the feelings
the show produces in them, feel that being a Brony makes them special and see MLP episodes as emphasizing a high level
of positive virtues. These individuals are very open about their “Bronyhood” and readily share this identity
with family and friends. They may be very engaged and interested in finding and interacting with other
Bronies. Their initial reaction to MLP was generally positive and they were often “turned
onto” MLP by family or friends. Their personality traits indicate that they are outgoing
social individuals who tend to seek and enjoy other peoples company. They often have a wide circle
of friends (Extraverts) and are open to exploring new experiences. They endorse a high level of
what are called “expressive attributes” which are often associated with: heightened emotional sensitivity, an
ability to express emotions, and a positive social orientation. They also display a high level of Absorption,
which indicates they have an ability and preference to become deeply involved and “lost in” experiences
(movies, games, artwork, sunsets, etc.). Being a Brony appears to serve a Social and a Guidance function
in the lives of these individuals.
We chose the label “Social” Bronies because these
individuals are overtly social with respect to their approach to being a Brony as well as their personality characteristics.
2) Secret Brony (High Social – High Isolation) [12.6% of
all study subjects, 91% describe themselves as heterosexual] Like the Social
Brony these individuals may find that MLP provides them with a sense of guidance and direction and they are likely
dedicated and engaged fans. They tend to enjoy the feelings the show produces in them and see the
episodes as endorsing a high level of positive virtues. While “being a Brony” makes them feel
special, these individuals are unable to share their interest in MLP with family and friends and may feel uncomfortable
and unsafe sharing their identity ever with other Bronies. They are likely to engage other Bronies only over the internet
and use internet Avatars that hide their identity. It is unlikely that they would attend fan gatherings
or display any MLP merchandise. In general their initial reaction/feels towards MLP were negative and the discovery
of MLP was accidental while doing other things on the internet. While their
secretiveness maybe a product of the non-acceptance of such interests by family and friends, these individuals display personality
traits that indicate a tendency to prefer more solitary activities, display a cautiousness about interacting with strangers,
and possess a small group of intimate friends (Introverted). However, at the same time these individuals appear to
be personable and caring, they like to “fit in” and desire positive social interactions and friends
(High Agreeableness). Having the ability to connect through the internet keep these individual plugged
into the Brony community.
We chose the label “Secret” Brony in recognition
of their hidden Brony identity, from family and friends, but social identification and engagement with the Brony community.
Hidden Brony (Low Social
– High Isolation) [39.6% of all study subjects, 87% of them describe themselves as heterosexual] Unlike the Social and Secret Bronies these individuals do not appear to be dedicated and engaged fans in the
sense of displaying outward signs of their interest in MLP. They do not appear to seek guidance
or moral messages from MLP and are not deeply engaged with the Brony community in the fashion of the Social Bronies.
Like the Secret Bronies these individuals are unable or uninterested in sharing their identity as
a Brony with family and friends and may feel uncomfortable even with other Bronies. Like the Secret Bronies they are likely
to engage other Bronies only over the internet and use internet Avatars that hide their identity. It is
unlikely that they would attend fan gatherings or display any MLP merchandise.
While their secretiveness maybe a product of the non-acceptance of such interests by family
and friends, these individuals display personality traits that indicate a tendency to prefer more solitary activities,
display a cautiousness about interacting with strangers, and possess a small group of intimate friends (Introverted).
These individuals are generally cautious about new experiences; they displayed a low level of positive
reactions when first exposed to MLP and tended to discover MLP by accident on the internet. Unlike the Social Bronies these
individuals scored low on the trait of Absorption indicating a concrete “it is what it is” approach to experiences,
and displayed a low level of “expressive attributes” indicating less emotional expressiveness, lower emotional
sensitivity and lower social orientation.
We chose the label “Hidden” Brony because these Bronies are not only hidden from family and friends,
but because of their low engagement with the Brony community maybe largely hidden from other Bronies.
Independent Brony (Low Social – Low Isolation) [10.2% of all study subjects, 81% describe
themselves as heterosexual] These individuals are not dedicated and engaged fans in the sense
of seeking positive social interactions with other Bronies and may not display outward signs of their interest in MLP.
They do not appear to seek guidance or moral messages from the ponies and are likely not deeply engaged with
the Brony community. However, these individuals are very open about their “Bronyhood” and likely share
this identity with family, friends and strangers. Like the Social Bronies these individuals can be described
as outgoing social individuals who tend to enjoy other peoples company and have a wide circle of friends (Extraverts),
however unlike the Secret Bronies who to care what other people think and want to be agreeable, these individuals tend
to not care what others think or feel (low Agreeableness). These are individuals who like to interact
with others but may not care if it is in a positive or negative way. They may at times find pleasure in
saying things that upset other members of the community and identify themselves as a Brony for the “shock value”
it creates with nonBronies. These individuals generally had a negative initial reaction to MLP and
were directed to view it by friends. We chose the label these “Independent”
Brony because of their openness about sharing their “Bronyhood”, but the fact that they are not highly engaged
or tied to the Brony community.
A few Observation and Conclusions about the Brony Typology:
It appears (is hypothesized) that
the Social and Secret Bronies are drawn to the Brony community as it helps to meet their overt social needs and provides them
with a sense of guidance.
What motivates the Independent
and Hidden Bronies? We all have a combination of “needs”, some are Interpersonal (visible to others and
often involving others) while some needs are Intrapersonal (hidden from view, internal and personal, may not involve
other people directly). Perhaps for these two groups MLP and being a Brony fulfils more Intrapersonal needs. These were needs
our survey did not attempt to measure. This question (and these needs) warrants further investigation.
3) A review of the sexual orientation data reveal that the Secret and Hidden Bronies had the highest
percentages of Bronies who identified themselves as heterosexual. This raises the possibility (a hypothesis)
that part of the reason they are not open with their “Bronyhood” is a fear that they will be targets of “it’s
a gay thing” taunts. Add to this their tendency to be more Introverted may have resulted in a “keep
your mouth shut, keep it a secret” defensive approach.
4) Any typological approach will be limited if it fails to adequately measure the entire population.
We are attempting to assess the total Brony population; however, we have limited our effort to internet recruitment
and visiting the sites frequented by self-identified Bronies. Therefore, it is possible that the distribution
(numbers) of Bronies may be off as we may have missed some groups of Bronies. With your advice and help
we hope to find and assess any missing and overlooked Bronies.
in our results were there any indications of the existence of systematic psychopathology (mental problems and difficulties).
There was no indication that our Hidden Bronies are hiding because of any pathology. However, we
only included one measure (Neuroticism) that has been found to directly be indicative of pathology. Therefore,
it could be argued that we didn’t find it because we were not looking for it, this is why we may need with our follow
up survey to look more closely at this question. Please note: In any population of people you will find
some sad/distressed/troubled individuals, this is to be expected and should not be held up as evidence of a problem with the
population as a whole or its unique characteristic (being Bronies). It is our feeling (and hypothesis)
that NO such connection exists within the Brony population.
Predicting Brony Fan Behavior
As we mentioned earlier, the process of placing individuals
into “types” or categories may be useful in making decision about what to expect from people (e.g., BronyCons
will be populated mostly by Social Bronies, and as such are a good place to market merchandise.) However, social scientists
often are more interested in asking questions about what “causes” someone to join/become a fan or leave/drop out
of a fan group. These questions are best answered by conducting a Regression Analysis. This analysis tells
us which of numerous variables best predicts or accounts for a person’s (Brony) survey score. Two
analyses were conducted; one predicted the Total Social Factor score and the other the Total Isolation Factor score (the same
scores that were used to create the Brony Typology). Both analyses used the Personality variables (Extraversion,
Conscientious, Openness, Agreeableness, Neuroticism, Absorption, Gender Stereotype score and Androgyny score) and subject
Age. Here are the results:
of the Total Social Factor score In this analysis variables are entered into the calculation
based on their strength/importance (from most to least) and only as long as they contribute a significant amount of understanding
to the equation (outcome). The variable of Absorption was the first (most important) to enter, followed by: Conscientiousness,
Extraversion and then Gender Stereotype. All together this four variable solution was found
to do an adequate job (a significant result) and explained about 19% of the variation in the Total Social score. This indicates that individuals who identify themselves as “being a Brony” and possess
the following traits: open to new experience, imaginative, with an ability to fully engage their attentional resources, self-directed,
reliable, careful, considerate of others, enthusiastic, talkative, emotionally sensitive and expressive, will score higher
on the Social Factor score.
of the Total Isolation Factor score In this analysis the same set of Personality variables were
entered into the calculation which predicted the Total Isolation score. Once again the variable of Absorption
was the first to enter the analysis; however it was in a negative direction meaning that a low score on this trait predicted
a high score on the Isolation factor. This variable was followed by: Extraversion (in a negative
direction), Openness to New Experiences (in a negative direction), Conscientiousness (in a negative direction)
and Androgyny (in a negative direction. All together this five variable
solution was found to do an adequate job (a significant result) and explained about 14% of the variation in the Total Isolation
score. This indicates that individuals who identify themselves as “being a Brony”
and possess the following traits: cautious about new experience, less imaginative, take a concrete approach to experiences,
prefer solitary activities, are more introspective, less goal directed, more laid back, and less likely to display a balance
of expressive and instrumental (goal and task directed) traits, will score higher on the Isolation Factor score.
A few Observation and Concluding remarks about the Brony Study
1) Clearly personality traits are important in understanding an individual’s response toward
MLP and the Brony community. The fact that the same set of personality variables predicted both the Social
and Isolation Factor scores (Absorption, Extraversion, and Conscientiousness) indicates that it may be helpful to view Bronies
as falling along a continuum between these two poles. This does not help us understand why people are
drawn to MLP, but is helpful in understanding why individual Bronies differ in their approach to the Brony community.
2) Anyone knowledgeable about regression analysis will be quick to point out that the amount of variance
accounted for by our analysis, while significant, were reasonable small. This indicates that other variable
(personality traits we did not assess perhaps) may be important in predicting these score. We agree and
intend to explore other (over looked or excluded) variables in our follow up survey.
3) As we mentioned at the beginning, our survey has help to dispel some misconceptions about the Brony community,
however, it has also raised a number of questions (especially about functions and motivations for being a Brony) that we feel
warrant further investigation.
We would like to once again thank
all of the Bronies, family, friends, students and strangers who expended their time, dedication and patience to taking part
in our study. We (the researchers) feel honored to have this opportunity to help the Brony community better
understand its membership and dispel some of the negative myths/stereotypes that haunt the community. We
hope that you (members of the Brony community) will continue to support our ongoing research efforts by providing us with
valuable feedback and by taking our follow up survey (which will likely be launched in the New Year).
5) We have received much favorable and some useful critical feedback, keep it up! Please
use the Feedback Form (new and improved) below to share your thoughts and or concerns about the Brony Study… and have
a happy holiday season! PS: Dr Psych Ology will be attending the BronyCon in New York city on Jan 7th… look
for him in the crowd… he will be in partial costume!