Psychological research, obedience and ethics
Psychological research, obedience and ethics

Start this free course now. Just create an account and sign in. Enrol and complete the course for a free statement of participation or digital badge if available.

Free course

Psychological research, obedience and ethics

The ethics of animal research

In this course you were introduced to a number of ethics principles that apply to research on human participants. These include informed consent from participants, ensuring their right to withdraw, protecting their welfare and evaluating the costs and benefits of the study.

Which of these do not apply to animals?

Of course, animals cannot give informed consent, and, given that most are kept in captivity anyway, the ‘right to withdraw’ does not really apply.

However, there are separate ethical guidelines for work with animals, which are also issued by the British Psychological Society.

They include provisions such as:

  • The ‘smallest number of animals sufficient to accomplish the research goals’ should be used in any study.
  • The costs and benefits of any study must be carefully evaluated.
  • The welfare of the animal must be taken into account and researchers must ‘seek to minimise any pain, suffering or distress that might arise’ from any experiment.
  • Researchers should use alternatives to animal research whenever possible, including data collected by other researchers, lower species (leeches, cell cultures, etc.) or, increasingly, computer simulations.

What emerges from these studies are the ‘3 Rs’ of animal research. These are to:

  • refine procedures to minimise suffering
  • reduce the number of individual animals used
  • replace animals with other alternatives.

These guidelines are interpreted and applied by ethics committees of research institutions and other bodies (including the Home Office) that grant special licences for keeping animals and using them in research.

DE100_1

Take your learning further

Making the decision to study can be a big step, which is why you'll want a trusted University. The Open University has 50 years’ experience delivering flexible learning and 170,000 students are studying with us right now. Take a look at all Open University courses.

If you are new to University-level study, we offer two introductory routes to our qualifications. You could either choose to start with an Access module, or a module which allows you to count your previous learning towards an Open University qualification. Read our guide on Where to take your learning next for more information.

Not ready for formal University study? Then browse over 1000 free courses on OpenLearn and sign up to our newsletter to hear about new free courses as they are released.

Every year, thousands of students decide to study with The Open University. With over 120 qualifications, we’ve got the right course for you.

Request an Open University prospectus371