Use of non-human animals in psychological research.

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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'. By this BPS is referring to living conditions, feeding, surgery and euthanasia. Concerning these topics, BPS states that the social habits of each individual species should be taken into consideration to provide adequate housing for the animals and companionship if suitable. The BPS guidelines also maintain that if the researcher is in any doubt about an animal's condition during research, advice of an expert should be sought, i.e. a veterinary surgeon who has nothing to be gained from the research.
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Moreover, the welfare of animals in research has been protected by the Scientific Procedures Act (1986). This act requires that animal procedures should only take place in appropriate laboratories with suitable animal accommodation, veterinary facilities and have gained a certificate of designation. Procedures must be part of approved research/testing programme with a project license and carried out by people with sufficient training. Such licences will only be granted if certain standards are met, e.g. Potential results justify means, minimum number of animals used and research cannot be done using non-human methods.

Furthermore, the British Association for the ...

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