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Animal Experimentation - History, Current trends

statistics in psychology attitudes and behavior attitude change animals research psychological psychology

The use of destructive and nondestructive testing upon various animal species in order to better understand the mechanisms of human and animal behaviors, emotions, and thought processes.

Biologists believe that chimpanzees share at least 98.4 percent of the same DNA as humans. Gorillas have a genetic composition which is at least 97 percent consistent with that of humans. Because the advancement of scientific technology has increasingly demonstrated similarities between animals and people, popular attitudes toward the use of animals in research and scientific experimentation have changed considerably. Ironically, this knowledge of the close genetic bond between species has enhanced the interest in animal experimentation. Nevertheless, evidence of animals as "sentient" beings, capable of a wide range of emotions and thought processes, has led scientists and animal activists to search for alternative ways to study behavior without victimizing animals. Although most psychology research does not involve deadly disease or experimental pathology, it often involves unrelenting or quantitative mental, physical, and psychological stress—all of which animals are capable of experiencing.

Animal rights activists, protesting the use of animals in laboratory experiments by dressing in monkey suits, block the entrance to the Department of Health and Human Services in Washington, D.C. (Corbis-Bettmann. Reproduced with permission.)

History

Charles Darwin's theory of evolution in 1859 became the scientific rationale for using animal experiments to learn more about humans. In the late nineteenth century, Ivan Pavlov's experiments in the development of "conditioned" responses in dogs (salivation) helped to foster an increasingly authoritative school of psychology known as behaviorism. The contemporary human treatment regimen known as behavior modification is fashioned from parallels drawn on these early experiments in operant conditioning.

In 1876, England passed the British Cruelty to Animals Act, which regulated animal experimentation. Still, behaviorist thinking at that time denied animals any psyche or emotion. Academic journals described animal behavior only in terms of physiologic response to stimuli, with no mention of any psychological consequence.

In later years, the behaviorist theories were overshadowed by the development and spread (from Europe to the United States) of ethology which concerns itself with genetic predisposition, or innate/instinctive behavior and knowledge. This theory continues to prevail in the United States, but in terms of relevance, it is tempered by the reality that between 85 and 90 percent of all animal experimentation is conducted on species not sufficiently similar to humans to draw dispositive parallels. The majority of all animal research in the field of psychology is conducted on various rodent species (rats, mice, hamsters, etc.) or birds as laboratory subjects.

Australian philosopher Peter Singer made the case for an end to animal experimentation with his 1975 book, Animal Liberation. Coinciding with his book was the comprehensive and sensitive research of such ethologists as Jane Goodall and Dian Fossey, who suggested that primates were capable of a full spectrum of emotions, including love, sorrow, jealousy, humor, and deceit. These animals also learned to communicate with humans by using over 300 learned signs in American Sign Language. Studies with other species produced similar results. During the late 1990s, an African gray parrot named Alex, who was being studied at the Arizona State University, fell ill and was required to spend the night alone at a veterinary clinic. When his keeper attempted to leave the room at the clinic, Alex cried out, "Come here, I love you, I'm sorry. Wanna go back." Such examples of the yet-unknown extent of emotional, psychological, and behavioral capacity in other species have cast new doubts on the scientific rationale for the continuation of captive animal experimentation.

Current trends

Animal experimentation is still widely used in psychological research. Animals are used in projects of many types from alcohol-induced aggression to pain medication. A 1999 medical study questioned whether animal experimentation on the neuroendocrine mechanisms in laboratory rats might provide a better understanding of human bisexuality. However, the trend in academia seems to be following the popular distaste for animal experimentation. A British study of undergraduate students enrolled in psychology classes during the 1990s showed that students in psychology were less in favor of animal testing than students in medicine, and second-year students were less in favor of such research than first-year students. Several articles have been published which address the general lack of acknowledgment, in leading introductory psychology textbooks, of contributions made by animal subjects.

According to the American Psychological Association (APA), less than 10 percent of pure psychological research uses animals as subjects. This estimate does not include animal subjects used for cross-over medical experimentation, such as in the related field of neuropsychology. Best estimates for the total number of animal subjects in all medical/psychological research is about 20 million per year. Of the animals used in psychological research, 90 percent are rodents and birds.

Concerns about animal cruelty have led to the search for alternative methodologies. Of great promise in this regard is computer simulation technology. As early as 1996, psychology students were able to study " shaping" and partial reinforcement in operant conditioning, by using a computer-created "virtual rat" named Sniffy. Commensurate with such technological developments and their refinements, statistics have shown a slow but consistent yearly decline in animal experimentation through 1999.

Lauri R. Harding

Further Reading

Baluch, Bahman; and Baljit Kaur. "Attitude Change Toward Animal Experimentation in an Academic Setting." Journal of Psychology (July 1995): 477.

McElroy, Susan Chernak. Animals as Teachers and Healers. New York: Ballantine, 1997.

Mukerjee, Madhusree. "Trends in Animal Research," Scientific American (February 1997): 86.

Further Information

Humane Society of the United States, Animal Research Issues Section. Washington, DC.

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almost 3 years ago

Only 5 percent of animal tested products make the shelves, what's the point, its painful and mean, animal cruelty is banned, and thos is animal cruelty.

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over 4 years ago

I am against using animals for experimenting. They also have all the rights to live in this beautiful world. Actually, we are encroaching into their habitat and disturbing the balance of the mother Earth. Please avoid this. Thank you.

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about 6 years ago

Animal Experimentation - History, Current trends

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over 6 years ago



The use of destructive and nondestructive testing upon various animal species in order to better understand the mechanisms of human and animal behaviors, emotions, and thought processes.



Biologists believe that chimpanzees share at least 98.4 percent of the same DNA as humans. Gorillas have a genetic composition which is at least 97 percent consistent with that of humans. Because the advancement of scientific technology has increasingly demonstrated similarities between animals and people, popular attitudes toward the use of animals in research and scientific experimentation have changed considerably. Ironically, this knowledge of the close genetic bond between species has enhanced the interest in animal experimentation. Nevertheless, evidence of animals as "sentient" beings, capable of a wide range of emotions and thought processes, has led scientists and animal activists to search for alternative ways to study behavior without victimizing animals. Although most psychology research does not involve deadly disease or experimental pathology, it often involves unrelenting or quantitative mental, physical, and psychological stress—all of which animals are capable of experiencing.



Animal rights activists, protesting the use of animals in laboratory experiments by dressing in monkey suits, block the entrance to the Department of Health and Human Services in Washington, D.C. (Corbis-Bettmann. Reproduced with permission.)

History

Charles Darwin's theory of evolution in 1859 became the scientific rationale for using animal experiments to learn more about humans. In the late nineteenth century, Ivan Pavlov's experiments in the development of "conditioned" responses in dogs (salivation) helped to foster an increasingly authoritative school of psychology known as behaviorism. The contemporary human treatment regimen known as behavior modification is fashioned from parallels drawn on these early experiments in operant conditioning.



In 1876, England passed the British Cruelty to Animals Act, which regulated animal experimentation. Still, behaviorist thinking at that time denied animals any psyche or emotion. Academic journals described animal behavior only in terms of physiologic response to stimuli, with no mention of any psychological consequence.



In later years, the behaviorist theories were overshadowed by the development and spread (from Europe to the United States) of ethology which concerns itself with genetic predisposition, or innate/instinctive behavior and knowledge. This theory continues to prevail in the United States, but in terms of relevance, it is tempered by the reality that between 85 and 90 percent of all animal experimentation is conducted on species not sufficiently similar to humans to draw dispositive parallels. The majority of all animal research in the field of psychology is conducted on various rodent species (rats, mice, hamsters, etc.) or birds as laboratory subjects.



Australian philosopher Peter Singer made the case for an end to animal experimentation with his 1975 book, Animal Liberation. Coinciding with his book was the comprehensive and sensitive research of such ethologists as Jane Goodall and Dian Fossey, who suggested that primates were capable of a full spectrum of emotions, including love, sorrow, jealousy, humor, and deceit. These animals also learned to communicate with humans by using over 300 learned signs in American Sign Language. Studies with other species produced similar results. During the late 1990s, an African gray parrot named Alex, who was being studied at the Arizona State University, fell ill and was required to spend the night alone at a veterinary clinic. When his keeper attempted to leave the room at the clinic, Alex cried out, "Come here, I love you, I'm sorry. Wanna go back." Such examples of the yet-unknown extent of emotional, psychological, and behavioral capacity in other species have cast new doubts on the scientific rationale for the continuation of captive animal experimentation.



Current trends

Animal experimentation is still widely used in psychological research. Animals are used in projects of many types from alcohol-induced aggression to pain medication. A 1999 medical study questioned whether animal experimentation on the neuroendocrine mechanisms in laboratory rats might provide a better understanding of human bisexuality. However, the trend in academia seems to be following the popular distaste for animal experimentation. A British study of undergraduate students enrolled in psychology classes during the 1990s showed that students in psychology were less in favor of animal testing than students in medicine, and second-year students were less in favor of such research than first-year students. Several articles have been published which address the general lack of acknowledgment, in leading introductory psychology textbooks, of contributions made by animal subjects.



According to the American Psychological Association (APA), less than 10 percent of pure psychological research uses animals as subjects. This estimate does not include animal subjects used for cross-over medical experimentation, such as in the related field of neuropsychology. Best estimates for the total number of animal subjects in all medical/psychological research is about 20 million per year. Of the animals used in psychological research, 90 percent are rodents and birds.



Concerns about animal cruelty have led to the search for alternative methodologies. Of great promise in this regard is computer simulation technology. As early as 1996, psychology students were able to study " shaping" and partial reinforcement in operant conditioning, by using a computer-created "virtual rat" named Sniffy. Commensurate with such technological developments and their refinements, statistics have shown a slow but consistent yearly decline in animal experimentation through 1999.



Lauri R. Harding



Further Reading

Baluch, Bahman; and Baljit Kaur. "Attitude Change Toward Animal Experimentation in an Academic Setting." Journal of Psychology (July 1995): 477.



McElroy, Susan Chernak. Animals as Teachers and Healers. New York: Ballantine, 1997.



Mukerjee, Madhusree. "Trends in Animal Research," Scientific American (February 1997): 86.



Further Information

Humane Society of the United States, Animal Research Issues Section. Washington, DC.



Behavior Modification - DID SKINNER RAISE HIS OWN CHILD IN A SKINNER BOX? [next]

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Animal Experimentation - History, Current trends





Read more: Animal Experimentation - History, Current trends - Statistics In Psychology, Attitudes And Behavior, Attitude Change, Animals, Research, Psychological, and Psychology http://psychology.jrank.org/pages/34/Animal-Experimentation.html#ixzz1MWsMydLn

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over 5 years ago


I think animal experimentation is a necessary evil. In order to see how certain drugs or other factors affect humans sometimes animals may have to be tested. As far as psychological experiments, I think we should avoid them as much as possible. These experiments can be cruel and some are not necessary to perform. I can understand why scientists may want to use animals to test things like aggression on pain medications on animals, however, I feel like we are already giving those medications to humans, so why not just concentrate on the results we are seeing in those patients. I am sure some experiments need to be performed on animals but I think we can do more to only experiment when absolutely necessary. I like the idea of the virtual rat. As far as one animal being more acceptable to experiment on than another, I would say unless there is proof that an animal cannot tell the difference or feel no discomfort, then no animals is more acceptable to test than others.

Annie Giller

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over 6 years ago

Well guys i did not see any statistics in this i need percentages and thing like that nothing here what a waste of my precious time! hank you hava a nice day !!!! WITCHES

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