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Use of non-human animals in psychological research.

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Introduction

USE OF NON-HUMAN ANIMALS IN PSYCHOLOGICAL RESEARCH a) Outline ways in which the welfare of non-human animals has been protected in psychological research The welfare of non-human animals has been protected in psychological research in various ways. Probably, most significant are the Guidelines for the use of animals composed by the British Psychological Society (BPS). BPS had its first review of such legislation in 1986 for the first time in over a hundred years. It is the duty of all animal researchers to be familiar with the most recent legislation and abide by it. Within these guidelines, BPS covers many essential topics within the area of animal research which try to ensure a certain degree of protection of the non-human animals involved. Ethical issues are taken into consideration by stating that if it is necessary that animals should be confined/stressed in anyway the experimenter must ensure that the means justify the ends. It is also advised that the number of animals used should be kept to a minimum, and experimenters should have thorough knowledge of experimental design to ensure this. Most importantly, animals that are used for research should be treated with respect and researchers have an 'obligation to avoid, or at least minimise discomfort to all living animals'. ...read more.

Middle

Finally, another method of protection of non-human animals used in research is Bateson's Decision Cube (1986). This is a cube designed for deciding whether a research project should proceed or not. It is based on three factors, 'quality of research', 'degree of animal suffering' and 'certainty of benefit'. Therefore most obvious case where animal research could be accepted would be where there is negligible animal suffering, high quality of research and benefit is certain. However if the opposite were to occur, i.e. great suffering to animal, etc. then there would be a strong case against the research proceeding. b) Evaluate the use of non-human animals in psychological research in the terms of the arguments for and against such research. The fact that non-human animal research in psychology involved the use of almost 40,000 animals in Britain last year is evidence that there must be a strong case for such research. The following is several arguments for animal research and counter arguments that oppose such research. Firstly, it is without doubt that animal research has made an important contribution to advances in psychology that have brought major improvements to health and wellbeing in humans. ...read more.

Conclusion

On the contrary though, philosopher David Hume said, 'what is, cannot dictate what ought to be'. By this he means that Natural History may have provided us with understanding of why our moral have evolved but we can transcend our nature, i.e. by not using other species in research may be seen as the next step in evolution. Also, some people can argue that less invasive procedures for the animals have been developed and are being used, therefore minimising animal suffering and therefore serves as moral justification for animal research. However this does not explain why thousands of animals every year go through unnecessary and inhumane torture and suffering. Secondly, if researchers were banned from using non-human animals in research, they would be forced to develop new techniques, e.g. increased use of CAT, PET and MRI scans and other modern approaches providing real alternatives. Finally, those who are for the use of animal research can argue that there are strict laws and codes of conduct, e.g. BPS guidelines that protect animals in research. However a majority of ethical guidelines are based on 'cost-benefit' analysis where the recipients of costs (i.e. animals) and the benefits (i.e. humans) tend to be very different. Such guidelines often ignore the substantive rights of animals in favour of practical and utilitarian considerations. ...read more.

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