Discuss Ethical Issues in the Use of Non-Human Animals in Research in Psychology (15 Marks)

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Animal testing became a vital feature of psychological research in the 1800’s, as it was more economic and quick way of testing hypothesis on living beings. Due to an increase in sometimes cruel animal research, in 1986 the BPS outlined the UK animals (scientific procedures) act. This act laid out measures to be considered when licensing of animal research was being sought. Some of these criteria were: benefits to outweigh the costs, minimum possible amount of animals to be used and mice are preferred over animals such as monkeys or horses. Although there is legislation in place to prevent suffering to animals, Dunnayer (2002) states that “making something legal doesn’t make it right”. It its leaning towards the notion that legislation simply serves to set standards involving the imprisonment, torturing and killing of defenceless animals. Animal testing gains a lot of attention in the media for being unethical and unfair towards animals that do not have their own voice to be heard. One advantage of animal testing is that it is possible to carry out procedures on other species that simply would not be allowed on humans. Examples include Brady’s executive monkey, Morgan’s hamsters, Pavlov’s dogs etc. This is because humans are seen as having more ethical rights than animals due to the Marxist view that homo-sapiens “contribute towards society” whereas animals do not. Another point is that generations of animals can be studied in a relatively short period of time. This is beneficial when researching a drugs long term effects and want to know if it will affect offspring. Clearly, this kind of study would not be viable on humans since you could be waiting 30 years; whereas rats can reproduce and reach sexual peak very quickly. Thirdly, we can draw comparisons between the causes and function of animal and human behaviour due to the similarity of our brains; underlying structures of the midbrain for example are quite similar across all mammals and other biological...
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