Animal testing involves the use of non-human animals for experimentation in researches to understand the way various factors impact the biological or behavioral setting and hence come up with ways of controlling the factors. Experiments involving animal use are common in medical schools, universities, corporate entities, and pharmaceutical corporations. The experiments are done with the aim of coming up with treatment or cure for certain illnesses, breeding, cosmetics, drug-test, and security research. This practice has met divergent views from different people, leading to various researches on people’s attitudes towards the practice. Some studies contend that individual and cultural views affect a person’s take on the matter, animal features or how they view species in question, and the purpose of research (Pulcino & Henry 2009, p.305). This paper utilizes a qualitative methodology in examining the factors influencing people’s attitudes towards animals. The paper utilizes the grounded theory in the analysis of interviews that were used to collect data. This resulted in 4 key themes; personal attitudes towards the animal used, prior knowledge of animal utilization process, views on choice, and cost-benefit evaluation. The findings of the study show that cognitive thinking, traits of the type of animal utilized as well as their species are the factors that influence people’s attitudes in animal testing.
Animal testing is also referred to as vivo testing or animal experimentation is the use of non-human animals in research to find out how various variables affect biological or behavioral system thus seeking ways to control the variables. Such experiments take place in medical schools, universities, business facilities even in pharmaceutical firms. According to Mellor and Reid (1994), most of these testing is usually carried out with the aim of finding treatment or cure for specific diseases, breeding, cosmetic, drug test, and defense research. Drug testing is the process of carrying out tests of the newly produced medications on animals to predict their effects on human beings in regards to finding better treatments for certain ailments. In an education setting, animal testing is included as an element in psychology or biology courses sometimes. Although practiced worldwide, the degree of animal testing varies from one country to another (Schiele 2008, pp. 93-118).
However, different people have different attitudes toward animal testing. Currently, in the medical field, there has been a lot of complaints from the public concerning animal testing. Despite the fact that animal research is used to bring changes in relation to human health, the practice is not acceptable to all individuals. Therefore, the study seeks to find out the factors that determine or influence people’s attitude on animal testing.
Many studies have been carried out concerning public involvement on issues related to animal research. Matthew et al. (1997) say that these include human attitudes where some felt that they were not well informed, others were in agreement with the practice for they thought there is no alternative, and some saw the method as unfair to animals. Generally, according to Knight and Barnett (2008), there are three factors affect people’s attitudes on vivo testing. They include personal and cultural features, animal characteristics and research characteristics.
Firstly, personal and cultural features are focused on things that may affect one’s decisions on whether to oppose or support animal testing (Mayer 2003, pp.177-179). Such influential aspects include; gender, age, experience with animals and religion. Also, personal belief tends to affect a person’s attitude towards the animal study. Such as vegetarianism and maybe some of the people also have a religion that can’t eat one or two typical animals because they believe that animal also has same rights as humans and the animal as valuable as humans.
Second, in regards to animals features, Rollin (2010) suggests that people’s attitude on this subject can be affected by species of animals, neoteny and genetic modification. In a manner that, cats and dogs have been pets for many individuals. As non-primates people regard them as having greater mental ability than fish or mice. Therefore, smaller brained animals like mice or rats are more suggested for animal research than pet animals. Genetic modification, on the other hand, is taken as a sophisticated practice and lacks naturalness. Thus, it is considered a technology that violates nature and fundamental parameters intrinsically (Kallapur et al. 2001, pp.218-220).
Third, people will likely look at the type of research carried out, its purpose, level of harm or invasiveness and available alternatives that are non-animal. Other things that could determine people’s attitudes are social media effects and how animals are treated in laboratories (Macnaghten 2004, pp. 533-551). For example, if a lot of social media says that animal testing it could be helped our societal development, like use animal to test useful medicine and for a patient who has a severe illness and contribute medical community. However, social media also may give people information like, animal testing could make animals live shorter and they have to suffer too much pain, thus it’s not fair for them to take this pain.
From the past research and the information just above, there is no study that has been carried out to focusing on people’s reactions on genetic modification and its effects on animals in the long-run. According to Russel & Burch (1959), even though animals are used in animal research, not all animals are used. In most of the experiments, rats or mice are the main subjects. And since they cannot be kept as pets and not everyone consumes them, their use in labs do not in any way affect the prices of animal products (Rowe et al. 2005, pp. 251-290).
Personal and cultural characteristics influence the attitudes of most people concerning animal testing. However, the significate factor has not been able to be identified; thus, this report is aimed to find out what factors influence people’s attitudes the most toward animal testing. It is hypothesized that empathy will be the most influencing factor. Hence individual who owns, or has previously owned a pet will have more negative feeling towards animal testing. In this report, a methodology not only will first be presented indicating the way of collecting data but also followed by the interpretation of results, discussion, and recommendation for future study.
The methodology used was a questionnaire survey concerning animal use in experiments and beliefs in animal mind and then the participants were interviewed later on to learn of reasons attributed to their varied attitudes towards various types of animal utilization. The interviews were in-depth and were structured to follow a flexible form that permitted all the participants to exhaustively explore their views on animal use and their relation with the animals. All participants were interviewed. All the interviews commenced by a question to the participants of whether the individual had a varied attitude towards the various types of animal utilization, and if it was so given a rationale for it. (Knight & Barnett 2008, p.33). Each participant was exhorted to lead the process and argue issues they considered significant and relevant, each interview taking an average of 65 minutes.
18 participants; nine male and nine females of ages between 22 and 65 participated in the interview. The interviews were in line with principles of theoretical sampling as new aspects were incorporated within the interview as they emerged for use in the consequent interviews. These aspects included; agriculture, information on animal use, whether the participant thought there was an alternative to animal use, the supposed cost, and benefits of using animals, physical traits of the animals, personal attitudes and belief on birds, fishes, and other animals (Knight & Barnett 2008, p.33).
The interviews were then transcribed word for word and noted down and each participant was assigned a specific number code. The Grounded Theory technique of continuous relative evaluation was utilized in analyzing the transcribed notes. Each of the transcribed notes was read severally and every word and line as well as paragraph were analyzed and coded into smaller portions. Each portion was evaluated with the inquiry of what it represented and a subsequent comparison of each transcribed notes was done. Afterward, texts were been grouped and assigned a unique description code, the different codes were partitioned into categories basing on their similarity, disparity, relation, and patterns and were noted upon emergence. To undertake this, the transcribed notes were read several times and the issues and ideas which arose during the interview were noted (Knight & Barnett 2008, p.34). A write-up of the findings was kept which was a continuous coverage of data collection to evaluation. The limitation was that the participants were randomly chosen and may not represent the vast population.
To interpret the results, the guiding procedures included; understanding what a response represented, the reason why it represented a concept or notion, and what another way the participant could have packaged or represented the concepts. Therefore, the interpretation was a loose, 2-phase procedure which included firstly; coding, noting, and categorizing data respectively. Finally, the second phase sought to demonstrate comprehension of the world from a viewpoint and alignment of the participant.
Discussion of the findings
This paper sought to find the factors influencing people’s attitudes majorly in animal testing. These factors were found to be personal attitudes towards the animal used, prior knowledge of animal utilization process, views on choice, and cost-benefit evaluation of animal use. Personal attitudes towards the animal to be used were a factor where participants’ emotive feelings towards animals affected their attitude towards its use (Hartung 2017, p.193). If they liked the animals, they opposed its use and vice versa. Basic attitudes to an animal were a supposed knowledge of the animal in matters traits of the animal and belief in animals’ mind. The animals which the participants considered as having good traits and were perceived to have minds were considered not to be used for experiments (Metzger 2014, p.155).
Personal attitudes also cover factors as a person’s age where young people support it while the elder ones opposed it given their perceived underscore the applied value of the animals (Funk & Rainie 2015). The upbringing of a person also affects their attitudes towards the animal. People from a rural setting tend to oppose the practice while those from an urbane setting are in support of it. The participants contended that a rural-bred individual has an experience with animals hence the concern. However, some contended that those from urbane setting view animals as companions hence tend to show an increased concern for the animal’s well-being (Kriesberg n.d.). Personal attitudes are shaped by an individuals’ religion. Some participants contended that their religions held some animals in reverence hence totally opposed the practice.
Personal attitudes also were shown to cover practices as vegans and vegetarians, animal advocacy which is a big factor in a person’s attitude in animal use. Some participants who advocated for the above practices exhibited complete indifference to animal use based on their worldview and ethical perception of the importance of animals. The type of research is a factor in people’s attitudes toward animal testing (BBC 2014). The examples that came up during the interviews were that of a research in the field of cosmetics and in vaccine and drugs. Participants contended that they opposed animal testing if was in checking the safety of cosmetics but could support research involving checking the efficiency of a drug or vaccine (Ormandy & Schuppli 2014, p.395).
Few participants had prior knowledge of animal utilization process in terms of what really happened to the animals used. They showed concern for the level of harm that the animals are likely to suffer in terms of pain and suffering (Theall & Keller 2017, pp. 110-111). This factor made the participants oppose the animal testing. Some did not even want to know it while others viewed the relevance of the animal to them as reasons to oppose it. Despite having little information about the animal testing process, the participants discussed the cost and benefits basing on their moral beliefs (Hartung 2017, p.195). They considered rights of the animals vis-a-vis the resulting outcome which may mean cure that could aid in curing human illness.
The factor of views on the choice of the animal to use was centered on the participants’ consideration of whether other options to animal testing were present. They considered that animal testing was justified only if there was no other alternative and if it led to more benefits to human (“Should Animals Be Used” n.d.). The other factors that came up in the survey include the effect of social media in shaping people’s attitudes towards animal testing, and the concern on the living state of the experimented animals (Ormandy & Schuppli 2014, pp.403-405). Social media platforms have increased knowledge and advocacy against animal testing. The participants were in support of the practice of animal testing if they knew that the living state of the animal after research was good (Ormandy & Schuppli 2014, p. 406).
This paper recommends public education on the animal testing process so as to enable people to know the benefits accrued from animal testing. There is also a need to utilize the most humane ways possible in the process. Further, while indeed it is hard to exactly find an appropriate alternative to animal use such as the vitro tests. In addition, it is recommended that future studies should seek participants who have some level of scientific information in animal testing (Metzger 2014, p.156). This would mean that the factors that will be determined to be the influencing their attitudes will be scientifically proven. Also, researchers should have a relatively good knowledge of animal use so that they aid the participants to understand the issues at hand.