Psychology - Discuss ethical issues in the use of non-human animal participants in psychology

  • "Discuss the advantages of the scientific method in psychology"
  • "Discuss the disadvantages of the scientific method in psychology"
  • "Discuss ethical issues in the use of human participants in research in psychology"
  • "Discuss ways of dealing with ethical issues when using human participants in research in psychology"
  • "Discuss ethical issues in the use of non-human animals in research in psychology"
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Differing Ethics Beginning Essay

  • Just as human ethical guidelines could not be applied to any animal methodology or research, animal ethics are specific and may not be applied to humans.
  • As such the traditional guidelines of:
  • Privacy
  • Confidentiality
  • Protection from harm
  • Right to withdraw
  • Informed consent
  • Deception
  • are swapped for the more specifically animal related:
  • Protection from physical harm
  • Removal from natural habitat
  • Protection from psychological harm
  • Maternal deprivation
  • Control of food intake
  • Teaching unnatural behaviour
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Cost - Benefit

  • As always it is necessary to conduct a thorough cost-benefit analysis in order to establish whether or not breaking these guidelines and creating ethical issues is acceptable in light of the perceived rewards from results.

 

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Points For This Essay

  • For this essay it is necessary to provide a wider range of contextual and informational content and thus less points are necessary. You may use 3 in depth following a format.
  • Brief description of study
  • Outlining ethical issue
  • Discussion of ethical issue
  • 
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Pavlov's Dogs - Brief Description Of Study

  • Pavlov, in his study confirming the theory of classical conditioning, actually drilled into the jawbone of some canine creatures in order to attach a device capable of capturing saliva produced in response to given stimuli. 
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Pavlov's Dogs - Outlining Ethical Issues

  • Pavlov's study is obviously breaking a range of the ethical guidelines put in place in order to protect animal participants.
  • Protection from physical harm
  • Protection from psychological harm
  • Control of food intake
  •  At the very least.
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Pavlov's Dogs - Discussion Of Ethical Issues

  • When discussing the ethical issues that may have arisen it is ncessary to consider why it may be appropriate to do so as a part of a cost-benefit analysis and why it may not be.
  • The objective measure was deemed necessary in order to gain some quantitative results for conclusion.
  • All of this harm may be allowed on account of the highly effective practical applications produced (CBT, aversion therapy, systematic desensitisation etc.).
  • All harm may be completely pointless as in the end any results from an animal studies cannot be effectively applied to human beings.
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Gibson & Walk - Brief Description Of Study

  • Gibson and Walk's depth perception experiments aimed to determine at what point depth perception is developed amongst humans, establishing either a basis of genetic predisposition or environmental influence.
  • In order to make comparisons between precocial animals etc. Gibson and Walk placed animals in situations in which they were intentionally supposed to fear harm and react accordingly.
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Gibson & Walk - Outlining Ethical Issues

  • Gibson and Walk's experiments on depth perception obviously break a range of the ethical guidelines outlined for the use of animal participants, thus ethical issues have arisen.
  • Removal from natural habitat
  • Protection from psychological harm
  • At the very least.
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Gibson & Walk - Discussion Of Ethical Issues

  • When discussing the ethical issues that may have arisen it is ncessary to consider why it may be appropriate to do so as apart of a cost-benefit analysis and why it may not be.
  • The experiments on precocial animals allowed for a good comparison between precocial animals (innate depth perception) and non-precocial animals (learnt from environment).
  • The experiment has provided good practical applications.
  • The animals did not really incur any physical harm.
  • However any results obtained from animals may not be effectively applied to human beings and therefore may represent unnecessary harm.
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Gardner & Gardner - Brief Description Of Study

  • Gardner and Gardner raised Washoe, a female chimpanzee, with a constant effort to teach her to acquire and use language in order to communicate with human beings. She was raised in captivity and solitude (from other chimpanzees) for most of her life.
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Gardner & Garnder - Outlining Ethical Issues

  • Obviously Gardner and Gardner's unique case is guilty of breaking a range of ethical guidelines and creating many ethical issues.
  • Removal from natural habitat
  • Protection from psychological harm
  • Maternal deprivation
  • Teaching unnatural behaviour
  • At the very least.
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Gardner & Gardner - Discussion Of Ethical Issues

  • When discussing the ethical issues that may have arisen it is necessary to consider why it may be appropriate to do so as apart of a cost-benefit analysis and why it may not be.
  • Reportedly Washoe did not appear distressed although this may be subject to some bias.
  • Given that Washoe was not human, we cannot really gauge emotion and decipher whether or not she was distressed. Moreover our attempts to do so involve aspects of the attribution theory and are unreliable and based on human norms.
  • Again this is a piece of animal research and therefore it cannot be effectively applied to human beings and thus any harm caused may be unnecessary.
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Research To Cite - Brief

  • Harlow's monkeys (1960's)
  • Harlow studied the effect of maternal separation and social isolation on Rhesus Monkeys.
  • This study demonstrated the importance of care giving and companionship in social and cognitive isolation as many of the deprived monkeys emerged highly disturbed.
  • These monkeys, etiher in partial or total isolation failed to reintegrate themselves socially and all suffered massive trauma with some fatalities.
  • This research may even have been deemed unnecessary as the results obtained from these animals cannot even be applied to humans.
  • Protection from physical harm
  • Removal from natural habitat
  • Protection from psychological harm
  • Maternal deprivation
  • Control of food intake
  • All of these guidelines were broken in this highly unethical study.
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Research To Cite - Brief

  • Deneau, Yanagita and Seevers (1969) - The monkey drug trials.
  • This experiment was looking at the effects of drug self-administration in monkeys. Whether a monkey would become addicted to drugs and as a result self-administer in order to obtain gratification and maintain drug use.
  • The monkeys were first injected with drugs such as cocaine, heroin, amphetamines etc. and researchers observed their behaviour.
  • Consequently, the animals did become addicted to the drugs and displayed many of the same traits as human addicts. Results found the key reason for drug abuse was psychological dependence, allowing for practical applications to be developed.
  • We do however have many human addicts that may be studied instead and thus not only are these animal's results not really applicable, they are needless and surplus to requirement.
  • Protection from physical harm
  • Removal from natural habitat
  • Protection from psychological harm
  • Teaching unnatural behaviour
  • At the very least.
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Research And Discussion Points

  • For this essay, due to the small number of points included and the discussion required, it is necessary to employ a wide range of discussion points in order to develop depth.
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Research And Discussion Points

  • Speciesism:

The assignment of different values, rights or special consideration to individuals solely on the basis of their species membership. The term is applied mainly by animal rights advocates who argue that speciesism is on the same level as sexism or racism for example. The treatment of individuals is predicated on group membership and morally irrelevant physical differences. The argument follows that species membership has no moral significance. 'Human superiority' leads to exploitation of animals.

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Research And Discussion Points

  • Scientific procedures act:

Derived in 1986 the 'scientific procedures act' governs or regulates the use of animals within scientific procedures. Experimentation is only permitted when there is no alternative research technique and the expected benefits outweigh any possible (perceived) adverse effects. This is another system implemented in order to reduce harm.

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Research And Discussion Points

  • BPS - Guidelines for psychologists working with animals:

The 'British Psychological Society' outline clear guidelines for working with non-human animal participants which, following a code of ethics, protect these creatures from harm. In order to protect these animals they implement systems such as using sustainably bred species in small numbers etc. to minimise overall harm.

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Research And Discussion Points

  • Bateson's cube:

A model of the cost benefit analysis for animal research developed by professor Patrick Bateson, president of the zoological society of London.

  • An evaluation is made using three criteria:
  • The degree of animal suffering
  • The quality of the research (how refined it is)
  • The potential medical benefit

Bateson suggested that, in accordance with the SPA (1986), research which does not accurately conform to or satisfy these criteria should not be approved or undertaken. Procedures etc. may be refined to make them as harmless as possible and thus this is a system for the protection of animals.

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Research And Discussion Points

  • The most recent procedure for the protection of animals in research:
  • The 3 R's (Russel and Birch)
  • Replace
  • Reduce
  • Refine
  • This system aims to absolutely minimise the possible harm in accordance with positively weighting the cost benefit analysis.
  • It is however incredibly difficult to determine whether or not these similar, numerous guidelines are all always being followed.
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Research And Discussion Points

  • Do these procedures actually work ?
  • It may be argued that they do, less research is being done and subsequently fewer animals are being used and harmed.
  • It is however very difficult to determine in research if these guidelines are being followed.
  • Out of 271 studies done in the UK and USA only 59% stated the number of animals used and many of these reported different numbers throughout research (Kilkenny 2009).
  • Thus whether guidelines are really followed remains ambiguous.

We can only hope that by providing a range of guidelines they will be mainly adhered to.

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Essay Writing Tips

  • Stick to talking about the issues, not things like how results may be generalised unless you are applying this in a link or PEE conclusion.

 

  • Non-human animal ethics can be a difficult question to answer so it is vital to get the balance right between using examples and discussing the ethical guidelines and issues involved.
  • Because there are only a few detailed points and examples to be made, you must make use of the discussion and research points and their implications in order to provide depth and detail.

 

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Comments

psychology1996

fantastic piece of revision! it has really helped me! thank you (:

Samuel Thomas Cross

Thank you, minor errors amended. 

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