Reasons for Using Animal Subjects

Eat Sleep Burn

Best Weight Loss Programs That Work

Get Instant Access

Psychologists study animals for a variety of reasons. Sometimes they study the behavior of a particular animal in order to solve a specific problem. They may study dogs, for example, to learn how best to train them as watchdogs, chickens to learn how to prevent them from fighting one another in henhouses, and wildlife to learn how to regulate populations in parks, refuges, or urban areas. These are all examples of what is called applied research.

Most psychologists, though, are more interested in human behavior but study animals for practical reasons. A developmental psychologist, for example, may study an animal that has a much shorter life span than humans so that each study takes a much shorter time and more studies can be done. Animals may also be studied when an experiment requires strict controls; researchers can control the food, housing, and even social environment of laboratory animals but cannot control such variables in the lives of human subjects. Experimenters can even control the genetics of animals by breeding them in the laboratory; rats and mice have been bred for so many generations that researchers can special-order from hundreds of strains and breeds and can even obtain animals that are as genetically identical as identical twins.

Another reason psychologists study animals is that there are fewer ethical considerations as compared to research with human subjects. Physiological psychologists and neuropsychologists, in particular, may utilize invasive procedures (such as brain surgery or hormone manipulation) that would be unethical to perform on humans. Without animal experimentation, these scientists would have to do all their research on human victims of accident or disease, a situation which would reduce the number of research subjects dramatically as well as raise additional ethical considerations.

A number of factors make animal research applicable for the study of human psychology. The first factor is homology. Animals that are closely related to humans are likely to have similar physiology and behavior because they share the same genetic blueprint. Monkeys and chimpanzees are the animals most closely related to humans and thus are homologically most similar. Monkeys and chimpanzees make the best subjects for psychological studies of complex behaviors and emotions, but because they are expensive and difficult to keep, and because there are serious ethical considerations when using them, they are not used when another animal would be equally suitable.

The second factor is analogy. Animals that have a similar lifestyle to humans are likely to have some of the same behaviors. Rats, for example, are social animals, as are humans; cats are not. Rats also show similarity to humans in their eating behavior (which is one reason rats commonly live

Crossbreed Animal Drawings

around human habitation and garbage dumps); thus, they can be a good model for studies of hunger, food preference, and obesity. Rats, however, do not have a similar stress response to that of humans; for studies of exercise and stress, the pig is a better animal to study.

The third factor is situational similarity. Some animals, particularly domesticated animals such as dogs, cats, domestic rabbits, and some birds, adapt easily to experimental situations such as living in a cage and being handled by humans. Wild animals, even if reared from infancy, may not behave normally in experimental situations. The behavior of a chimpanzee that has been kept alone in a cage, for example, may tell something about the behavior of a human kept in solitary confinement, but it will not necessarily be relevant to understanding the behavior of most people in typical situations.

By far the most common laboratory animal used in psychology is Rattus norvégiens, the Norwegian rat. Originally the choice of the rat was something of a historical accident. Because the rat has been studied so thoroughly over the past century, it is now often the animal of choice so that comparisons can be made from study to study. Fortunately, the rat shares many features with humans. Other animals frequently used in psychological research include pigeons, mice, hamsters, gerbils, cats, monkeys, and chimpanzees.

Was this article helpful?

+1 0
The Most Important Guide On Dieting And Nutrition For 21st Century

The Most Important Guide On Dieting And Nutrition For 21st Century

A Hard Hitting, Powerhouse E-book That Is Guaranteed To Change The Way You Look At Your Health And Wellness... Forever. Everything You Know About Health And Wellness Is Going To Change, Discover How You Can Enjoy Great Health Without Going Through Extreme Workouts Or Horrendous Diets.

Get My Free Ebook


Responses

  • Benigna
    Why psychologists study animals?
    3 years ago
  • mariam
    Why animals are good subject for psychology experiment?
    3 years ago
  • jennifer
    Why do psychologist study animals?
    3 years ago
  • russom
    Why some psychologists use animal?
    2 years ago
  • oona
    How similar human psychology to animal psychology?
    2 years ago
  • GIUDITTA
    Why psychologist use animals for research?
    2 years ago
  • asmara simon
    Why do psychologist use animals in experiments?
    2 years ago
  • noora paija
    Why same psychologist study animals behaviour?
    2 years ago
  • zahra
    Why psychologists study animal?
    2 years ago
  • efrem
    Why the use animals in pychology?
    2 years ago
  • Jennifer
    What are the reasons for why psychologistd study animals?
    2 years ago
  • Arthur
    Why di psychologist use lower animals for osychological experiments.?
    2 years ago
  • susanne
    Why do psychologists use animals in research?
    2 years ago
  • patricia
    Why do psychologist use lower animals for study?
    2 years ago
  • shishay
    Why are animals used in psychological experiments?
    2 years ago
  • ANTJE
    Why psychologist uses animals more in their experiment?
    2 years ago
  • jak
    Why psychology study animal?
    2 years ago
  • raine rahnasto
    Why do psychology study animals?
    2 years ago
  • rolando
    Why are animals considered in the study of psychology?
    2 years ago
  • Lucas
    Why do psychologists study animals and is it ethical to experiment on animals?
    2 years ago
  • adrian
    Why psychologist use animals than people?
    2 years ago
  • abrha
    Why most scientists use animals more than human beings in pratical?
    2 years ago
  • girma
    Why did psychologists use lower animals in studying behaviour?
    2 years ago
  • ferdinand
    Why psychologist use animal in the experiment?
    2 years ago
  • charles
    Why psychologists use animals instead of human to study behaviour?
    2 years ago
  • Curtis
    Why we use animals in experimental psychology?
    2 years ago
  • sirja
    Which study is better animal or human for research purpose?
    2 years ago
  • blaine
    Why psychology study animal behaviour?
    2 years ago
  • malva
    Why psychologist used animals in studying human behavior?
    1 year ago
  • Rosie
    Why psychologist study about animals behaviors?
    1 year ago
  • manuel
    Why psychologist study animal behaviour rather than human?
    1 year ago
  • monika
    Why psychology prefer using animal to perform their experiment?
    1 year ago
  • lia
    Why psychologist used animals to study human behaviour?
    1 year ago
  • yolando
    Why animals are used to study human behavior?
    1 year ago
  • Samlad
    How can we study the behavior of animals and of humans in psychology?
    1 year ago
  • veera
    How can animal behaior be studied in psycholoy?
    1 year ago
  • ARTURO
    Why do we use animals as subjects for psychological studies?
    1 year ago
  • Benito
    Which animal population that psychologists usually study?
    1 year ago
  • miniya
    Why are animals used in psychology research?
    12 months ago
  • Michael
    Why psychologist study about the behavior of animal ?
    10 months ago
  • Kifle Robel
    Why do we use lower animals for psychology of learning?
    7 months ago
  • Michael Binder
    Why psychologist interested in studying animal behavor?
    6 months ago
  • jeffrey
    What is why psychologist are interested to study animais behavio thats the right?
    6 months ago
  • Caitlyn
    Why psychology is interested in studying animal?
    6 months ago
  • akseli
    Why psychologist interested in studying animal behaviour?
    6 months ago
  • iago
    Why psychologist interested in studying animal behaviours?
    6 months ago
  • grimalda goodchild
    WHAT ARE REASONS WHIY PS CHLOGY USED ANIMAL FOR EXPERIMENT?
    5 months ago
  • delfino lucciano
    Why psychologist use animal to study human behavior?
    5 months ago
  • JAMES
    Why do you think psychologst study animal behavior?
    4 months ago
  • lana
    Why are psychologitic reserches condicted on animals?
    3 months ago
  • Katrin Durr
    What are the reasons why animal are used for psychlogical exlermentations?
    3 months ago
  • pertti
    Why animal used psychology epermentation?
    3 months ago
  • Wilbur Crocker
    Which of the following is not a reason for using animals in psychological experiments?
    3 months ago
  • federico
    Why are lower animals mostly used in physchological experiment?
    3 months ago
  • jukka-pekk holanti
    Why are lower animal mostly use in psychological expirement?
    2 months ago
  • hanna-mari
    Why lower animals mostly used for psychological experiment?
    2 months ago
  • pandora whitfoot
    Why animals make good research subjects in psychology?
    2 months ago
  • KATJA
    Why do psychologist use animal in their experiments instead of humans?
    2 months ago
  • Joseph
    Why most psychologist use animals to study the human behavior.?
    29 days ago

Post a comment