'Ever since the Gulf War, an estimated 20. 000 returning U. S. soldiers have been experiencing a series of mysterious illnesses, such as severe joint pain, chronic fatigue, rashes, hair loss, memory loss, lack of bowel control and even brain damage. Recently, disturbing reports of miscarriages, stillbirths, deaths, and birt defects among the babies conceived by the returning soldiers have also emerged. And now, evidence is mounting that the Desert Storm Syndrome may be contagious.... It has been learned that the American soldiers were exposed to experimental vaccines, drugs, and pesticides'.
Ethics have become increasingly more important during recent years since they apply to the treatment of participants and since humans are more educated about their rights. All research exposes an individual to some degree of risk, even if this risk is minimal, that is, time spent away from activities during data collection or high risk - the possibility of adverse health effects while engaged in experimentally controlled physical exertion. Being a participant in an experiment I would definitely object to deception. Deception, or manipulation is disrespectful towards participants.
They are self-determined to take part in an experiment to help in the advancement of science. In my point of view self-determination is the right of the participant and deception jeopardizes this. Participants have the right to know exactly what they are helping to achieve. Negative effects due to deception may also cause distress or discomfort to participants or psychological "damage". For instance the "Little Albert" experiment conducted by Watson and Rayner in 1920. Little Albert was left with a phobia of rats, which then expanded to include other creatures of a similar nature. (Myers, 2000,p298).
Another factor of personal concern in participating in a research is the invasion of privacy. Most definitely not all researchers follow their professional Code of Ethics. Unethical examples of research are the Nazi's experiments during the Second World War, the human radiation experiments. Upholding of individual confidentiality and the careful use of non-intrusive, inoffensive and tactful methods may not be completely assured. Values between the participant and the researcher may conflict due to differences in culture, religion etc. But even the most ethical of scientists will be biased towards seeing their own research as ethical.
When conducting a research, researchers must respect the participants' rights and dignity, must be concerned of the others' welfare and apart from their professional and scientific responsibility they must have a social responsibility. (APA Code of Ethics, 2002). Ethical values in studies involving animals are equally important. Since Darwin's time, psychologists have worked to understand the basic principles and processes of the behavior of all creatures, human and nonhuman, contributed to the treatment of difficult clinical problems and to the extensive understanding of the functioning of the central nervous system.
It is evident that animals contributed a lot to psychological research and they deserve some respect and better treatment. (APA) Although APA( American Psychology Association) developed a Code of Ethics which applies for the use of animals in research, personally I strongly object to any use(APA Code of Ethics, 2002). In the "Ethics of Animal Investigation" a document published by the Canadian Council on Animal Care the regulations for animal use mention that animals must not be subjected to unnecessary pain or distress(Bailey).
Weren't Pavlov's experiment and other similar behavioral experiments causing distress to the dog which had to learn to modify their behavior in order to receive food? Didn't the time that took the dog to learn this behavior cause distress since it could not receive food otherwise? (Myers,2000,p290-292) Similarly, in medical experiments simple or complex, usually rats are used. Isn't the intake of medication against obesity causing distress and health risk to the rats? Humans may consider animals a lower form of life, but this does not give us the right to act against another form of life.
If we put ourselves in their position would we be happy to be the guinea pigs in a laboratory, been observed by a stranger or been administered various substances? Deprived the right of freedom even if we were born in captivity, the right of health and of privacy? For the same reasons I would object to the use of animals in experiments for education purposes unless these are only observed in their natural environment without using any interventions from the observers.
Product testing involves applying a test substance internally or externally to gauge the level of irritation, discomfort, tissue damage, side effects, ability to cure illness or lethal dose required to cause death. Some of these tests are last short periods of time and some longer periods. Generally, no anesthetics are used as they may interfere with the test results. Animals surviving the tests are usually killed for tissue examination. The products tested include after shaves, shampoos, eyeliners and tobacco, food additives, paints, garden chemicals.... The Draize test is used to determine how a product will affect human eye tissue.
Rabbits are used for this test because they have large eyes with poor tear ducts and they are also inexpensive. The rabbits are restrained for seven days while the substance is dripped into one eye and their eyelids are held open with clips. Their eyes are examined for redness, bleeding, swelling and discharge. Many animals brake their necks as they struggle to escape from the pain. Researchers do not attempt to treat the rabbits after the test. As a result the rabbits suffer and the tests are unlikely to help lead to treatments for potential human injuries'. (SAFE)
Imagine yourself in a circus stage, wearing a flurry short silly skirt, standing on a stool and getting ready to jump through a hoop covered in flames. Or think of yourself taking part as a horse in the movie "Gladiator". I would definitely be afraid to jump through the hoop, and I wouldn't like to be the horse that 'accidentally' stumbles and falls on the ground. It is not just the physical state of an animal that matters when they are used in entertainment. It is also the psychological, which most of the times it is not understood by humans. We are animals too, and since we have feelings, obviously other animals have feelings too.
Zoos are also a kind of entertainment, which I object. But zoos can change this theme of entertainment. They can actually help animals that are endangered to reproduce and increase the number of their species. For instance when I visited last summer the Chicago Aquarium, the scientists there were working on the reproduction of the Beluca whales (white dolphin like whales), which are an endangered species. They also had a dolphin "show" during which dolphins naturally swim and their swimming behavior is explained to the public (e. g. itching their back because the skin got dry = flying high and falling into the water with their back).
Animal tests, in any form, and their use in entertainment are wrong. Animals feel the pain and they show it with their behavior by screaming, struggling, attacking. Animals are like humans and should be considered as individuals and not just members of a species. The most basic right of an individual is to be treated with respect. Therefore, as it is wrong to experiment on people without their consent, it is also wrong to experiment on animals. Unless codes of conduct and ethical guidelines continue to be abided by, all psychological (and indeed scientific) research could fall prey to becoming invalid and useless in today's society.