How the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee Reviews Research
Researchers must ensure that animals are not subject to suffering or distress in order to avoid animal experiments. Typically, experiments are reviewed by an Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee, a group composed of researchers, veterinarians, community members, and institutional administrators. Members of this committee ensure that all research involving animals is conducted in accordance with established guidelines, including the treatment and welfare of the animals. The committee also oversees semi-annual inspections of facilities where research involving animals is conducted. The majority of animal research projects must be reviewed by the committee, even though they are not approved by the committee.
Researchers must ensure that animals consent to research that involves them and that they are treated with respect and dignity. Animals should be paid for their sacrifice. This could include advanced veterinary care or other benefits. Research involving animals should be clear and have a rational expectation that it will contribute to our understanding of behavior.
The APA 2002 Ethics Code requires that psychologists who use animal subjects must adhere to current laws and professional standards. These standards ensure that animals are used by researchers to understand human behavior. Using animals in research is an acceptable substitute for human research because many of the basic processes are similar to those in humans. As long as the researchers follow the ethics guidelines, the use of animals in psychology is not considered unethical.
More than half the research done in the United States is based on vertebrates. These animals are mostly bred for medical research. Mice and rats are the most commonly used animals in animal studies. Another 10% of animal testing is done with non-human primates.