Towards an ethical use of animals

Stephen E. G. Lea introduces the Society’s new guidelines for psychologists working with animals.
OVER 20 years ago, the Society published its first guidance on the use of animals in psychology, in the form of a working party report. That working party grew into the Society’s Standing Advisory Committee on Standards for Psychological Research and Teaching Involving Animals (SACSPRATIA), which in due course produced expanded guidelines on the use of animals in psychological research (BPS Scientific Affairs Board, 1985). These guidelines were worked out in collaboration with the Experimental Psychology Society (EPS), who also published them (see Boakes, 1986). Ever since they have served as standing advice to the members of both Societies and to everyone submitting papers concerning animals to either Society’s journals. Fifteen years further on, we have a different Act of Parliament governing animal research in the UK — the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986; we have a greatly changed regulatory framework, with local ethical review committees involving non-animal users and non-scientists in all universities and research laboratories; we have much clearer professional standards for all psychological work, and more penalties within the Society for those who fall short of them; and we have a very different set of debates about animal welfare, both within psychology and in the wider community — arguably with less heat but more light being generated.

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