Understanding of Non-Human Animal Testing

Understanding of Non-Human Animal Testing
Non-human animal testing can be crucial to how we understand the way humans learn and behave. Many critics believe that we cannot use animals to understand the complexities of humans, as we are too genetically different. Yet others feel we can use animals because we are similar in ways. I will study and evaluate both sides of the argument both for and against testing on animals, I will also look at lab and field experiments and see weather animal behaviour can be said to be identical to humans. Lab experiments and field experiments are both very different. Some people feel that lab experiments are good, because you can control the variables. A lab experiment is a study done in a controlled environment. However the environment, which it is produced in, is not ecologically valid as it is not true to real life. This is why other people feel that field experiments should be used instead, as you can introduce a stimulus and it is in a real environment. Yet this can be hard to examine as there may be many other variables affecting the study and would make it hard to evaluate. The definition of learning is the understanding of something and then the remembrance of it for future reference. Humans can learn in many ways: imitation, repetition, visual, trial and error, reading ect. John Watson stated that all behaviour is learnt through conditional response to a stimulus, if this theory is true, then behaviour comes from linking an emotion or response to a stimulus in the environment. He suggested that ?the model of human actions? is: Stimulus-Physiological Process-Response. This means that everything around us is our environment and that it shapes us. Simply, learning is a result of our experiences, and not from forces within us. Our environment is: Everything around us- spatial (physical), humans and situational (do we feel comfort) An example of stimulus and response was Pavlov?s study of the digestion of dogs. He was measuring the amount of saliva produced by the dog. He then noticed the dogs were salivating at the technicians who were bringing the food to the dogs. So Pavlov reasoned that the dogs were salivating because they made the association between the lab technicians and the food. Pavlov furthered his testing and decided that when the dogs were about to be feed, he would ring a bell. Amazingly, the dogs using connectionism, linked the ringing of the bell to food so they would start salivating at the bell. This backed up his first theory. Pavlov?s work lead to peoples Phobias being cured. He thought that if you can change how a person responded to a stimulus you could change their response. In conclusion he made people feel differently, better about their fears. Laboratory experiment is the most commonly used research method in cognitive psychology. With lab experiments, behaviourists can study both humans and animal behaviour within a situation. Many scientists use laboratories to carry out experiments because they can change an independent variable and see what affect it has on the dependant variable; this can be done as they are in a controlled environment. Yet, lab experiments have been widely criticised, as many people believe that the results you get cannot be applicable as the environment is not ecologically valid. They feel the laboratory is an unnatural place therefore you would get different results to if they were in a natural setting. An example of a lab experiment is Bandura?s Bobo Doll study. Basically he got two groups of children and studied their play behaviour for aggression. In the first condition he showed a group of children a video of an adult punching a bobo doll. The children were then let in the room with the same bobo doll and were studied for signs of aggression towards it like the adult. Yet the other group was a control group, this means they did not see the video yet was put in the same room with the bobo doll. The results showed that the majority of children who saw the video showed aggression towards the doll. Various people have criticised this as they feel the behaviour might have been as a result of the experiment, instead of their true behaviour. As the children might have thought it was ok to hit the doll or they were supposed to hit the doll due to watching the film. Field experiments are another way of testing human or non-human animals. This is a research method that is commonly used in social psychology. Like all experiments, field experiments involve the manipulation of an independent variable to test its effect on the dependant variable. The difference between field and lab experiments is that it all takes place in the person or animals natural environment. This is very important in studying behaviour as behaviour changes in different situations, and as a psychologist you want their natural surroundings to give you their natural behaviour. Conversely, field experiments can be very difficult to carry out. You must be very careful when doing the study in not changing more than one variable, as you will not get an accurate outcome. Also it is very hard to control all the conditions when this type of experiment is carried out as other variables may affect the results. Testing on non-human animals can be seen as a good way to examine how and why they behave in certain situations, using this information we could have simple explanations in how a human mind works. Many scientists and psychologists feel that non-human animal testing is the right way to go about things as non-humans animals and humans have the same types of learning. We all imitate when young, use trial and error and can be taught. Behaviourists tend to study non-human animals because: they are easy to handle. Unlike humans they cannot shout at you or tell you off for something, which makes them much easier to handle. You can do things to them that you cannot do to humans. This means that you can do things to an animal that in fact would be unethical to a human. Also they can learn something new and you know they will have no experience of it, this states that you can know the history and whether it has had primary knowledge of learning. However, testing on animals has many problems, as there are huge brain differences between animals and humans so you cannot generalise between them. Firstly we cannot be sure that humans and animals learn in the same ways, we have no real evidence, only results from experiments that allow us to link between the two. Another major factor in testing is that non-human animals do not have the same emotional responses, so findings may not mean much when related to humans. As animals cannot speak, they cannot tell us what they feel so there is no way that we can tell if they feel anxious, confused, concerned. When doing any type of experiment the experimenter chooses what to experiment. Animal or human. Some use humans because then we can make a direct link to other human beings, as we are all the same species. Also as the human brain is more complexed we can do more advanced testing, like testing on how we read, how we talk or how we remember number. As humans are the only species, which is able to speak, it is difficult to test non-humans animals and link to humans. Although animals and humans learn in similar ways, it is hard to say that we behave identically. In Thorndikes experiment, he tested how long it would take a kitten to get out of a puzzle-box. What Thorndike wanted to see was if the kitten would make the connection with pressing the leaver and escaping. This it did, as the stimulus-response connectionism is established when the kitten escapes the box. The kitten is then repeatedly put back into the box, it then escapes even faster then the time before as that ?link? between the lever and escaping is made. This can be linked to humans as like a kitten a child learns things through trial and error. Yet a more intricate experiment could not be done as a human begins to think about how to get out where, as an animal would just use trial and error to escape. The human begins to think because we are conscious beings. We take in information around us that may be of help or use prior knowledge. This differs to animals, as they are unconscious beings they will just use trial and error to get out of a situation. In conclusion, Yes animal testing is crucial to the understanding of human behaviour as we can see that as infants we begin to learn in the same ways, yet as the human brain grows more complexed we cannot make that link between non-human animals as they do not learn in the same ways. Also as we are conscious beings it is hard again to have that link between humans and animals as we think before doing things as animals do not. So though the outcome may be the same, the human may have used a different method. In my opinion, I feel despite physical differences as babies we all learn in similar ways by either imitating the mother or trial and error. Yet as we grow older I feel that animals will use repetition, imitation or trial and error, whereas humans will start to use prior knowledge in certain situations.

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