4.2.2 – Animal Research

Using Animals in Research

Arguments for

  • Shorter gestation periods (For example rats have a gestation period of 22 days). This means that developmental studies can be conducted much faster, and also large samples can be created quickly.
  • No demand characteristics leads to higher internal validity.
  • You can control animals more than humans due to ethics. For example, you could control exactly what a rat ate throughout its whole life, but you can’t do that with a human.
  • You can cause pain and distress to the animals as long as it’s part of the research and not unnecesary, something which isn’t allowed with humans. (Eg. Skinner’s Skinner box)
  • We can somewhat generalise due to the fact that we share common ancestors.
  • Small amounts of suffering in animals can avoid the suffering of many more people/animals.

Arguments against

  • Lacks ecological validity.
  • Animals are very different to humans, therefore it can be hard to generalise.
  • Over 90% of drugs deemed successful on animals go on to fail in human trials.

Ethical Issues

Scientific Procedures Act includes any scientific procedure which may cause pain, suffering, distress or long lastime harm to a protected animal is affected by this act. It protects these animals from harm.

  • Researchers must justify the costs to the animals compared to how useful the study is.
  • Animal research must be licensed on an individual project basis.
  • All researchers must be trained to gain an individual license to do animal research.
  • They should minimise pain and suffering.
  • They should recognise and assess any adverse effects on the animals.