Guidelines for Ethical Conduct in the Care and Use of Animals (2022)

Justification of the Research

  1. Research should be undertaken with a clear scientific purpose. There should be a reasonable expectation that the research will a) increase knowledge of the process underlying the evolution, development, maintenance, alteration, control, or biological significance of behavior; b) determine the replicability and generality of prior research; c) increase understanding of the species under study; or d) provide results that benefit the health or welfare of humans or other animals.
  2. The scientific purpose of the research should be of sufficient potential significance to justify the use of nonhuman animals. In general, psychologists should act on the assumption that procedures that are likely to produce pain in humans may also do so in other animals, unless there is species-specific evidence of pain or stress to the contrary.
  3. In proposing a research project, the psychologist should be familiar with the appropriate literature, consider the possibility of nonanimal alternatives, and use procedures that minimize the number of nonhuman animals in research. If nonhuman animals are to be used, the species chosen for the study should be the best suited to answer the question(s) posed.
  4. Research on nonhuman animals may not be conducted until the protocol has been reviewed and approved by an appropriate animal care committee; typically, an Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC), to ensure that the procedures are appropriate and abide by the principles for humane experimental techniques embodied by the 3Rs – Replacement, Reduction, and Refinement (Russell & Burch, 1959).
  5. The researcher(s) should monitor the research and the subjects’ welfare throughout the course of an investigation to ensure continued justification for the research.


  1. Psychologists should ensure that personnel involved in their research with nonhuman animals be familiar with these guidelines.
  2. Investigators and personnel should complete all required institutional research trainings for the ethical conduct of such research.
  3. Research procedures with nonhuman animals should conform to the Animal Welfare Act (7 U.S.C. §2131 et. seq.) and when applicable, the Public Health Service Policy on Humane Care and Use of Laboratory Animals (PHS, 2015) and the Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals (National Resource Council, 2011), as well as other applicable federal regulations, policies, and guidelines, regarding personnel, supervision, record keeping, and veterinary care.
  4. As behavior is not only the focus of study of many experiments but also a primary source of information about an animal’s health and well-being, investigators should watch for and recognize deviations from normal, species-typical behaviors as indicators of potential health problems.
  5. Psychologists should assume it is their responsibility that all individuals who work with nonhuman animals under their supervision receive explicit instruction in experimental methods and in the care, maintenance, and handling of the species being studied. The activities that any individuals may engage in must not exceed their respective competencies, training, and experience in either the laboratory or the field setting

Care and Housing of Laboratory Animals

As a scientific and professional organization, APA recognizes the complexities of defining psychological well-being for both human and nonhuman animals. APA does not provide specific guidelines for the maintenance of psychological well-being of research animals, as procedures that are appropriate for a particular species may not be for others. Psychologists who are familiar with the species, relevant literature, federal guidelines, and their institution’s research facility should consider the appropriateness of measures such as social housing and enrichment to maintain or improve psychological well-being of those species.

  1. The facilities housing laboratory animals should meet or exceed current regulations and guidelines (USDA, 1990, 1991; NIH, 2015) and are required to be inspected twice a year (USDA, 1989; NIH, 2015).
  2. All procedures carried out on nonhuman animals are to be reviewed by an IACUC to ensure that the procedures are appropriate and humane. The committee must have representation from within the institution and from the local community. In the event that it is not possible to constitute an appropriate IACUC in the psychologist’s own institution, psychologists should seek advice and obtain review from a corresponding committee of a cooperative institution.
  3. Laboratory animals are to be provided with humane care and healthful conditions during their stay in any facilities of the institution. Responsibilities for the conditions under which animals are kept, both within and outside of the context of active experimentation or teaching, rests with the psychologist under the supervision of the IACUC (where required by federal regulations) and with individuals appointed by the institution to oversee laboratory animal care.

Acquisition of Laboratory Animals

(Video) Laws and Regulations Governing the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals: An Overview

  1. Laboratory animals not bred in the psychologist’s facility are to be acquired lawfully. The USDA and local ordinances should be determined and followed prior to IACUC protocol submission.
  2. Psychologists should make every effort to ensure that those responsible for transporting the nonhuman animals to the facility provide adequate food, water, ventilation, and space, and impose no unnecessary stress on the animals (NRC, 2006).
  3. Nonhuman animals taken from the wild should be trapped in a humane manner and in accordance with applicable federal, state, and local regulations.
  4. Use of endangered, threatened, or imported nonhuman animals must only be conducted with full attention to required permits and ethical concerns. Information and permit applications may be obtained from the Fish and Wildlife Service website at

Experimental Procedures

Consideration for the humane treatment and well-being of the laboratory animal should be incorporated into the design and conduct of all procedures involving such animals, while keeping in mind the primary goal of undertaking the specific procedures of the research project—the acquisition of sound, replicable data. The conduct of all procedures is governed by Guideline I (Justification of Research) above.

  1. Observational and other noninvasive forms of behavioral studies that involve no aversive stimulation to, or elicit no sign of distress from, the nonhuman animal are acceptable.
  2. Whenever possible behavioral procedures should be used that minimize discomfort to the nonhuman animal. Psychologists should adjust the parameters of aversive stimulation to the minimal levels compatible with the aims of the research. Consideration should be given to providing the research animals control over the potential aversive stimulation whenever it is consistent with the goals of the research. Whenever reasonable, psychologists are encouraged to first test on themselves the painful stimuli to be used on nonhuman animal subjects.
  3. Procedures in which the research animal is anesthetized and insensitive to pain throughout the procedure, and is euthanized (AVMA, 2020) before regaining consciousness are generally acceptable.
  4. Procedures involving more than momentary or slight aversive stimulation, which is not relieved by medication or other acceptable methods, should be undertaken only when the objectives of the research cannot be achieved by other methods.
  5. Experimental procedures that require prolonged aversive conditions or produce tissue damage or metabolic disturbances require greater justification and surveillance by the psychologist and IACUC. A research animal observed to be in a state of severe distress or chronic pain that cannot be alleviated and is not essential to the purposes of the research should be euthanized immediately (AVMA, 2020).
  6. Procedures that employ restraint must conform to federal regulations and guidelines.
  7. Procedures involving the use of paralytic agents without reduction in pain sensation require prudence and humane concern. Use of muscle relaxants or paralytics alone during surgery, without anesthesia, is unacceptable.
  8. Surgical procedures, because of their invasive nature, require close supervision and attention to humane considerations by the psychologist. Aseptic (methods that minimize risks of infection) techniques must be used on laboratory animals whenever possible.
    1. All surgical procedures and anesthetization should be conducted under the direct supervision of a person who is trained and competent in the use of the procedures.
    2. Unless there is specific justification for acting otherwise, research animals should remain under anesthesia until all surgical procedures are ended.
    3. Postoperative monitoring and care, which may include the use of analgesics and antibiotics, should be provided to minimize discomfort, prevent infection, and promote recovery from the procedure.
    4. In general, laboratory animals should not be subjected to successive survival surgical procedures, except as required by the nature of the research, the nature of the specific surgery, or for the well-being of the animal. Multiple surgeries on the same animal must be justified and receive approval from the IACUC.
  9. To minimize the number of nonhuman animals used, investigators should maximize the amount of data collected from each subject in a manner that is compatible with the goals of the research, sound scientific practice, and the welfare of the animal.
  10. To ensure their humane treatment and well-being, nonhuman animals reared in the laboratory must not be released into the wild because, in most cases, they cannot survive, or they may survive by disrupting the natural ecology.
  11. When euthanasia is appropriate, either as a requirement of the research or because it constitutes the most humane form of disposition of a nonhuman animal at the conclusion of the research:
    1. Euthanasia must be accomplished in a humane manner, appropriate for the species and age, and in such a way as to ensure immediate death, and in accordance with procedures outlined in the latest version of the AVMA (American Veterinary Medical Association) Guidelines on Euthanasia of Animals (2020).
    2. Disposal of euthanized laboratory animals must be conducted in accordance with all relevant laws, consistent with health, environmental, and aesthetic concerns, and as approved by the IACUC. No animal shall be discarded until its death is verified.

Field Research

Field research that carries a risk of materially altering the behavior of nonhuman animals and/or producing damage to sensitive ecosystems is subject to IACUC approval. Field research, if strictly observational, may not require animal care committee approval (USDA, 2000).

  1. Psychologists conducting field research should disturb their populations as little as possible, while acting consistent with the goals of the research. Every effort should be made to minimize potential harmful effects of the study on the population and on other plant and animal species in the area.
  2. Research conducted in populated areas must be done with respect for the property and privacy of the area’s inhabitants.
  3. Such research on endangered species should not be conducted unless IACUC approval has been obtained and all requisite permits are obtained (see section IV.D of this document). Included in this review should be a risk assessment and guidelines for prevention of zoonotic disease transmission (i.e., disease transmission between species, including human to nonhuman and vice versa).

Research in Other Settings

(Video) Ethical Guidelines Related to the Use of Animals | A Level Notes Psychology 9990

Research on captive wildlife or domesticated animals outside the laboratory setting that materially alters the environment or behavior of the nonhuman animals should be subject to IACUC approval (Ng et al., 2019). This includes settings where the principal subjects of the research are humans, but nonhuman animals are used as part of the study, such as research on the efficacy of animal-assisted interventions (AAI) and research conducted in zoos, animal shelters, and so on. If it is not possible to establish an IACUC at the psychologists’ own institution, investigators should seek advice and obtain review from an IACUC of a cooperative institution.

  1. Researchers should minimize and mitigate any distress on the nonhuman animal subject caused by its involvement in the study. Qualifications for appropriate handling of animal subjects in AAI settings have been well described by the AVMA (2008). Psychologists studying the use of AAIs should have the expertise to recognize behavioral and/or physiological signs of stress and distress in the species involved in the study. However, when psychologists lack such expertise, they should ensure that the research team includes individuals with the necessary expertise to recognize and intervene to reduce the nonhuman animal subject’s distress. Any study that carries risk of experiencing, or being exposed to the experience of, another organism’s pain, fear, or distress requires greater justification and should be addressed in the IACUC protocol.
  2. When research is conducted in applied settings, such as hospitals, health clinics, and offices of doctors and mental health professionals, the investigator should understand the risk of, and declare mitigating strategies for, disease transmission between human and nonhuman participants. For example, studies of AAIs in health-care facilities offering mental health services may introduce risks for bi-directional zoonotic transmission of infectious diseases such as Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) (Lefebvre, et al., 2008). Investigators studying AAIs in health-care settings should therefore adhere to the guidelines for AAI management offered by the AVMA (2008).
  3. In all experimental circumstances, investigators should structure into the schedule the basic needs of the nonhuman animals such as food, water, and rest breaks.

Educational Use of Nonhuman Animals

Laboratory exercises as well as classroom demonstrations involving live animals are of great value as instructional aids. Psychologists are encouraged to include instruction and discussion of the ethics and values of nonhuman animal research in relevant courses.

  1. Nonhuman animals may be used for educational purposes only after review by an IACUC or other appropriate institutional committee.
  2. Consideration should be given to the possibility of using nonanimal alternatives. Procedures that may be justified for research purposes may not be so for educational purposes (e.g., animal models of pain that are used to develop safer analgesics would be in excess of what is needed to merely demonstrate the use of animal models in the study of behavior and cognition).
  3. All handlers of nonhuman animals in educational settings should adhere to the recommendations outlined above for personnel, housing, and acquisition of subjects. APA has adopted separate guidelines for the use of nonhuman animals in research and teaching at the pre-college level. A copy of the APA Guidelines for the Use of Nonhuman Animals in Behavioral Projects in Schools (K-12) can be obtained via email at, by phone at 202-336-6000, or in writing to the American Psychological Association, Science Directorate, Office of Research Ethics, 750 First St., NE, Washington, DC 20002-4242 or downloaded at


American Psychological Association. (2017). Ethical principles of psychologists and code of conduct (2002, amended effective June 1, 2010, and January 1, 2017).

(Video) Ethical Treatment of Lab Animals

American Veterinary Medical Association. (2008). Guidelines for animal-assisted interventions in healthcare facilities. American Journal of Infection Control, 36(2), 78-85.

American Veterinary Medical Association. (2020). AVMA guidelines for the euthanasia of animals.

Animal Welfare Act 7 U.S.C. § 2131 et seq.

Institute for Laboratory Animal Research. (2011). Guide for the care and use of laboratory animals (8th ed.). Washington, DC: The National Academies Press

Lefebvre, S. L., Peregrine, A. S., Golab, G. C., Gumley, N. R., WaltnerToews, D., & Weese, J. S. (2008). A veterinary perspective on the recently published guidelines for animal-assisted interventions in health-care facilities. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, 233(3), 394-402.

National Institutes of Health Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare. (2015). Public Health Service Policy on the Humane Care and Use of Laboratory Animals. Bethesda, MD: NIH.

National Research Council. (2006). Guidelines for the humane transportation of research animals. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.

Ng, Z., Morse, L., Albright, J., Viera, A., & Souza, M. (2019). Describing the use of animals in animal-assisted intervention research. Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science, 22(4), 364-376.

Russell W.M.S., & Burch, R. L. (1959). The principles of humane experimental technique. Wheathampstead (UK): Universities Federation for Animal Welfare.

U.S. Department of Agriculture. (1989). Animal welfare; Final Rules. Federal Register, 54(168), (Aug 31, 1989), 36112-36163.

U.S. Department of Agriculture. (1990). Guinea pigs, hamsters, and rabbits; Final Rules. Federal Register, 55(136), (July 16, 1990), 28879- 28884.

(Video) The Ethics of Animal use in Research | Courtney Bannerman | TEDxQueensU

U.S. Department of Agriculture. (1991). Animal welfare; Standards; Part 3, Final Rules. Federal Register, 55(32), (Feb 15, 1991), 6426-6505.

U.S. Department of Agriculture. (2000). Field study; Definition; Final Rules. Federal Register, 65(27), (Feb 9, 2000), 6312-6314.

U.S. Public Health Service. (2015). Public Health Service Policy on Humane Care and Use of Laboratory Animals. files/PHSPolicyLabAnimals.pdf

Additional Resources

Dess, N. K., & Foltin, R. W. (2004). The ethics cascade. In C. K. Akins, S. Panicker, & C. L. Cunningham (Eds.). Laboratory animals in research and teaching: Ethics, care, and methods (pp. 31-39). APA.

National Institutes of Mental Health. (2002). Methods and welfare considerations in behavioral research with animals: Report of a National Institutes of Health Workshop. Morrison, A. R., Evans, H. L., Ator, N. A., & Nakamura, R. K. (Eds.). NIH Publications No. 02-5083. Washington, DC: US Government Printing Office.

National Research Council. (2011). Guide for the care and use of laboratory animals. (8th ed.). Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.

National Research Council. (2003). Guidelines for the care and use of mammals in neuroscience and behavioral research. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.

National Research Council. (2008). Recognition and alleviation of distress in laboratory animals. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.

National Research Council. (2009). Recognition and alleviation of pain in laboratory animals. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.

Guidelines for Ethical Conduct in the Care and Use of Nonhuman Animals in Research was developed by the American Psychological Association Committee on Animal Research and Ethics in 2020 and 2021. Members on the committee were Rita Colwill, PhD, Juan Dominguez, PhD, Kevin Freeman, PhD, Pamela Hunt, PhD, Agnès Lacreuse, PhD, Peter Pierre, PhD, Tania Roth, PhD, Malini Suchak, PhD, and Sangeeta Panicker, PhD (Staff Liaison). Inquiries about these guidelines should be made to the American Psychological Association, Science Directorate, Office of Research Ethics, 750 First Street, NE, Washington, DC 20002, or via e-mail at

Copyright © 2022 by the American Psychological Association. Approved by the APA Council of Representatives, February 2022.

(Video) Ethical Issues in Experimental Animal Researches1


What are the ethical guidelines in place for using animals? ›

APA's 2002 Ethics Code, which takes effect June 1, mandates that psychologists who use animals in research: Acquire, care for, use and dispose of animals in compliance with current federal, state and local laws and regulations, and with professional standards.

What are the ethical guidelines relating to the use of animals in research? ›

No responsible scientist wants to use animals or cause them unnecessary suffering if it can be avoided, and therefore scientists accept controls on the use of animals in research. More generally, the bioscience community accepts that animals should be used for research only within an ethical framework.

What are the 5 ethical guidelines? ›

The five principles, autonomy, justice, beneficence, nonmaleficence, and fidelity are each absolute truths in and of themselves.

What are ethics in animal care? ›

Care ethics offers a unique approach to the moral treatment of animals that grounds our moral duties to animals not in rights or utilitarian considerations but in our sympathy for animals and relationships with them.

Which of the following is part of the ethical guidelines for animal research quizlet? ›

Which of the following is part of the ethical guidelines for animal research? Animals must be cared for by individuals trained in their care. semantic memory. You just studied 246 terms!

What ethical guidelines safeguard human and animal research participants? ›

Which ethical principle requires that at the end of the study, participants be told about the true purpose of the research?
  • Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval.
  • informed consent.
  • confidentiality.
  • debriefing.
  • protection from physical harm.

What ethical principles apply when we propose and conduct research with animals quizlet? ›

What ethical principles apply when we propose and conduct research with animals? We must avoid unnecessary pain or risk. Closely supervised research (vet) using a review board (IACUC).

Is it ethical to use animals for testing essay? ›

Animals are put under intense pain during the various experiments conducted on them. This is highly unethical, and to conclude, it is very fair to say that experiments should never be conducted on animals. Neither the animals should be used for meat and for other unethical reasons.

Why is ethics important to animals? ›

Being able to recognize when something is an ethical question or issue rather than a clinical one, is also an important skill for veterinarians to develop. Applied animal ethics concerns the nature of the human-animal relationship and how humans should treat animals.

What specific principles for conduct can be used to guide ethical decisions List and describe the five steps in an ethical analysis identify and describe six ethical principles? ›

Six ethical principles for judging conduct include the Golden Rule, Immanuel Kant's Categorical Imperative, Descates' rule or change, the Utilitarian Principle, the Risk Aversion Principle, and the ethical "no free lunch" rule. These principles should be used in conjunction with an ethical analysis.

What are the 6 APA ethical guidelines? ›

General ethical principles
  • Principle A: Beneficence and nonmaleficence.
  • Principle B: Fidelity and responsibility.
  • Principle C: Integrity.
  • Principle D: Justice.
  • Principle E: Respect for people's rights and dignity.
  • Resolving ethical issues.
  • Competence.
  • Human relations.

What guiding principles should drive decisions on the use of animals in and for research? ›

The key principle of animal regulation in research might be finding a balance among scientific progress, animal welfare, and cost effectiveness that is better than, yet proportionate to, the larger treatment of animals by humans, Nakamura concluded.

What are some of the ethical guidelines for research in psychology with non human animals? ›

There should be a reasonable expectation that the research will a) increase knowledge of the process underlying the evolution, development, maintenance, alteration, control, or biological significance of behavior; b) determine the replicability and generality of prior research; c) increase understanding of the species ...

What are the APA guidelines for animal research quizlet? ›

Terms in this set (4)
  • They must have a clear and specific purpose.
  • They must care for and house animals in a humane way.
  • They must acquire animal subjects legally. Animals must be purchased from accredited companies.
  • They must design experimental procedures that employ the least amount of suffering feasible.

Why are ethical guidelines used by researchers quizlet? ›

Why are ethical guidelines used by researchers? So that the research does not physically harm the participants. So that the research proposal is accepted by the review board.

What are the ethical guidelines for psychological research? ›

Here are five recommendations APA's Science Directorate gives to help researchers steer clear of ethical quandaries:
  • Discuss intellectual property frankly. ...
  • Be conscious of multiple roles. ...
  • Follow informed-consent rules. ...
  • Respect confidentiality and privacy. ...
  • Tap into ethics resources.

Why is ethical guidelines important? ›

It is important to adhere to ethical principles in order to protect the dignity, rights and welfare of research participants. As such, all research involving human beings should be reviewed by an ethics committee to ensure that the appropriate ethical standards are being upheld.

Why do psychologists study animals and what ethical guidelines safeguard human and animal research participants how do you psychologists values influence psychology? ›

Why do psychologists study animals, and what ethical guidelines safeguard human and animal research participants? It creates a better understanding of the physiological and psychological processes shared by humans and other species. Government agencies have established standards for animal care and housing.

How would you ensure that the participants in your experiments are treated ethically and have their rights protected? ›

Obtaining informed consent from participants. Protecting the anonymity and confidentiality of participants. Avoiding deceptive practices when designing your research. Providing participants with the right to withdraw from your research at any time.

What is the purpose of the standards and guidelines for ethics in educational research? ›

Understanding ethical principles and procedures assists researchers in mitigating issues that arise and guides researchers in performing research that is ethically sound. represents the most blatant example of violation of human rights in the United States.

What are the four basic ethical principles developed by the American psychological Association APA that guide researchers with human participants? ›

The American Psychological Association's ethics code urges researchers to ....
  • obtain potential participants' informed consent.
  • protect them from harm and discomfort.
  • keep information about individual participants confidential.
  • fully debrief people (explain the research afterward)

Which of the following is one of the ethical principles that psychologists must follow when using human participants All participants must be? ›

Which of the following is an ethical guideline that must be followed when research with human participants is conducted? The benefit of the research to the participant must outweigh the risks.

What are the requirements for animal use? ›

use of appropriate species, quality, and number of animals. avoidance or minimization of discomfort, distress, and pain. use of appropriate sedation, analgesia, and anesthesia. establishment of humane endpoints.

What are the ethical issues with animal testing? ›

Certain versus potential harm
  • The harm that will be done to the animals is certain to happen if the experiment is carried out.
  • The harm done to human beings by not doing the experiment is unknown because no-one knows how likely the experiment is to succeed or what benefits it might produce if it did succeed.

Is it ethical to use animals for testing? ›

Animal experiments are considered acceptable only if the benefit of the proposed experiment outweighs the suffering of the animals. Ethical review of animal experiments will likely benefit the animal and improve the quality of animal-based research.

Why is ethical treatment of animals important? ›

Animal welfare is important because there are so many animals around the world suffering from being used for entertainment, food, medicine, fashion, scientific advancement, and as exotic pets. Every animal deserves to have a good life where they enjoy the benefits of the Five Domains.


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