Painful dilemmas: A study of the way the public's assessment of animal research balances costs to animals against human benefits

Public Underst Sci. 2014 May;23(4):428-44. doi: 10.1177/0963662512451402. Epub 2012 Aug 3.


The conflict between animal costs and human benefits has dominated public as well as academic debates about animal research. However, surveys of public perceptions of animal research rarely focus on this part of attitude formation. This paper traces the prevalence of different attitudes to animal research in the public when people are asked to take benefit and cost considerations into account concurrently. Results from the examination of two representative samples of the Danish public identify three reproducible attitude stances. Approximately 30-35% of people questioned approved of animal research quite strongly, and 15-20% opposed animal research. The remaining 50% were reserved in their views. Further studies will ideally use the measure developed here to make possible relatively fine-grained comparisons and understandings of differences between populations and changes in attitudes over time.

Keywords: ambivalence; animal research; attitudes; cost–benefit; public; quantitative study; value conflict.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Animal Experimentation*
  • Animals
  • Attitude to Health*
  • Biomedical Research / ethics*
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • Denmark
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Public Opinion*
  • Young Adult