The use of animals in psychological research is a controversial and very debateable subject. 7-8% of all psychological research involves animals, and though this doesn’t seem a lot in the grand scheme of things it is a large proportion of research if, like some believe it to be, the results of which aren’t actually useful. So my question is what exactly are the pros and cons of using animals in research?
The use of animals in research has truly led to some major advancement in the psychological field; animals have been used to research studies that have helped form the basis for many behavioural theories of psychology. Take for example theories of classical conditioning (Pavlov) and operant conditioning (Skinner) these form the basis of the behavioural approach. Pavlov used dogs to investigate natural reflexes and stimuli, the findings of which are now used during systematic desensitisation. This treatment is now used to help people overcome their phobias whereby the person is slowly exposed to their phobia at building extremity. Without the use of animals this therapy wouldn’t have been developed.
However are animals close enough to humans in order to make the research useful to e generalised to society? In psychological research 90% of the animals that are used are rodents and birds ie: rats, mice and pigeons. The good points about using animals like these is that they are readily available for use and so are cheap however they are very unlike humans biologically. Primates, animals that re meant to be more similar to humans are only used 5% of the time in research. Surely it would be more useful for psychological research if animals have to be used that they are closer to humans biologically? This would be more useful to avoid situations like what happened with the thalidomide situation.
In conclusion animal testing is very handy to use in Psychology as it means that human advancement can happen without harming any people and this has been done multiple times in the past. However due to the biological differences in species can the results from animal studies ever give the same results that would be gathered from human trials?