Issues - Animal Use in Psychology

Revision notes on Animal Use in Psychology

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  • Created on: 19-06-08 15:36
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Psychology Revision Unit 5 ­ Issues
The Use of Non-Human Animals
Constraints on the Use of Animals
Legal Constrains
In the UK the use of animals in research is governed by the Animals Act, it requires that animal
Take place in labs that have been approved and have appropriate animal accommodation and
veterinary facilities.
Are part of a licensed and approved research or testing programme
Are carried out by people with sufficient training and skills
Permission is only granted if:
The potential results are important enough to justify the use of animals
If research cannot be done using non-animal methods
The minimum number of animals is used
Any discomfort to the animals is kept to a minimum.
The Act is enforced by inspectors; the animals must be examined everyday
Ethical Constraints
The BPS has ethical guidelines for the use of animals in psychological research, including:
The experimenter must ensure the end justifies the means
Much care should be taken to use the minimum amount of animals as possible
In experiments involving food deprivation, food intake should carefully be decided upon as a
short period of deprivation for one species may be intolerable for another
Methodological Constraints: The Three `R's
Hume proposed the Three `R's;
1. Reduction ­ experimental designs should be as good as possible to reduce the amount of animals
2. Replacement ­ use biological techniques on humans e.g. brain scanning techniques such as PET
and MRI scans when possible instead of animals
3. Refinement ­ procedures and environments should be used that minimise stress and enhance
animal well being.

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Scientific Arguments For the use of Animals
1. We Can Generalise from Animals to Humans
We can generalise from animals to humans so animal research is worthwhile. Biologically animals and
humans are very similar; we have similar nervous systems (brain structure and neurotransmitters). So
therefore research on biological areas (biorhythms, sleep and neurotransmitters) where cognitive and
social psychology are not relevant, it should be possible to generalise from animals to humans.
For Example....
Morgan et als study of SCNs in hamsters.…read more

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Studied in their Own Right
Animals should be studied in their own right.
For Example....
A study on elephants by Plotnik et al (2006) has shown that they can recognise themselves in a mirror ­ a
feature which most animals including cats and dogs cannot achieve. A mark was made on the elephant's
forehead (they were unaware and didn't feel the mark being put there).…read more

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Ethical Arguments For the use of Animals
1. Animals don't have the Same Rights as Humans
Animals are unable to enter into a social contract or make moral choices and therefore cannot be
regarded of the possessors of rights, a position summed up by Roger Scruton. He argues that only human
beings have duties and therefore only they have rights. If this is true than it would be acceptable to test
on animals.…read more

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Ethical Arguments Against the use of Animals
1. Animal Rights
The fundamental principle of the animal rights movement is that animals deserve to live according to their
own natures, free from harm, abuse and exploitation. It says animals have the right to be free from
human cruelty and exploitation just as humans possess these same rights.
2. Speciesism
Speciesism is the argument that treating animals badly is a form of discrimination, much like ageism,
racism and sexism.…read more


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