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Exploring Students’ Compassion towards Laboratory Animals


Biomedical research is essential for human health, but many biomedical research activities use lab animals and the use can entail animal suffering. This suffering obviously harms the animal but can also personally affect the researcher or weaken the scientific validity of research. Taking a compassionate approach in these research activities could address these issues, but compassion is rarely discussed in biomedical sciences teaching and research.


Dr. John Menzies and Dr. Nicola Romano have published a paper in Animals exploring the validation and use of a new survey to measure compassion towards laboratory animals. The survey was done in groups of biomedical sciences UG students. Different levels of compassion were observed in different groups, and using a harm-benefit task, they showed that students with lower levels of compassion are more likely to accept higher levels of animal suffering in a research setting. When exploring whether certain beliefs about animals were linked with compassion, they found that a belief that animals are conscious is associated with higher levels of compassion.


This work will help us understand differences and similarities in values and beliefs about lab animals in different groups of students, and contribute to the development of teaching and learning activities on the ethics and practice of lab animal use.

Access to the publication: https://doi.org/10.3390/ani13223584