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Discuss the use of animals in psychological research.

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Introduction

Discuss the use of Animals in Psychological research. (30 marks) There is much debate into the use of non-human animals in Psychological research in regards to their scientific suitability. In addition there are many ethical issues both in favour and against the use of animals in psychological research. There are a number of psychological experiments that over time have used animals as a means of testing various hypotheses, for example psychologist Harry Harlow used baby rhesus monkeys whilst researching the "cupboard love" theory into attachment which taught us that we do not merely attach for food but for other reasons in addition to this such as comfort. Pavlov also famously used dogs to investigate into operant conditioning. The use of animals in research however is heavily controlled, for instance there are strict guidelines in place and some animals are no longer frequently used in research such as cats and dogs, and great apes have been outlawed from usage in animal research completely. ...read more.

Middle

Animals do have more simplistic behaviour but these biological similarities are related to the behavioural similarities and therefore using animals in psychological research can be seen as a valid way of investigating more complex human behaviours. Additionally, experimenting on animals means that psychologists have greater control of the variables compared to in an experiment with human participants. As well as this many species of animals have shorter life spans and gestation periods than humans, meaning effects of psychologists can investigate generations of development in a relatively short period of time. Animal studies can also be used as a basis for subsequent human investigations, for example, Bowlby's theory of attachment was partially based on Lorenz's study of imprinting in geese. In addition we can use animals for experiments that wouldn't be allowed for ethical reasons to perform on humans, for example in the "flower-pot cats" experiment the psychologists carrying out the investigation deprived the cats of sleep until they eventually died. ...read more.

Conclusion

In addition to these ethical and scientific considerations, Researchers must also now take into account the cost and benefits of any intended research and it must be remembered that the benefits are only ever potential whereas the costs are almost always real. In recent years a number of alternative methods of investigation have been developed however, one such method is using lower organisms such as fruit flies who do not feel pain in future investigations. As well as this, another alternative is to study animals in their natural environment therefore minimising the suffering of animals and provides moral justification. Those against using animals in research however argue that less invasive procedures are still procedures, and how do we know how much an animal is suffering. Finally those against using animals in research also argue that ethological fieldwork may cause disruption to animals, for example the tagging of animals. ...read more.

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Summary

This essay has covered many of the salient points relevant to this particular subject. The writer could now improve the score by citing various studies, experiments and authors. Unfortunately there is a lack of evidence in the writing which has meant a lower score. The writer, however, is on the right track and shows an understanding of the arguments for and against animals being used for psychological research.

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Marked by teacher Linda Penn 05/09/2013

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