August 25th 2022
Gallup recently released their annual poll of Americans on moral issues, covering a wide range of topics including animals research and testing. Similar to past years, 52% of Americans view testing and research on animals as morally acceptable. (This contrasts with other uses of animals: 60% view buying or wearing clothing made of animal fur as morally acceptable, and 38% view cloning animals as morally acceptable.)
However, as with most everything related to animal-based research, context matters. Readers of our blog know that the types of questions that pollsters ask influence American’s views on the acceptability of animal research and testing. As we’ve published before, other polls such as those conducted by the Foundation for Biomedical Research (FBR) that contain questions with more context reveal that the “movable middle” on animal research is larger than the Gallup poll suggests.
In 2021, just 18% of respondents to FBR’s poll said medical testing on animals is morally wrong, compared with 39% of Gallup respondents (this year, 43% said it is wrong). Why the discrepancy? Look to the questions asked: Gallup asked simply, “Regardless of whether or not you think it should be legal, for each one, please tell me whether you personally believe that in general it is morally acceptable or morally wrong.” In contrast, FBR anchored the questions on animal research and testing with greater nuance and context, asking, “Please indicate whether you personally believe the humane use of animals in scientific research to develop lifesaving medicines for people and pets is morally acceptable or morally wrong.” If you want a thoughtful response, ask a thought-provoking question.
Per FBR’s recent e-mail newsletter, it will soon release its 2022 poll commissioned in partnership with Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. This poll will investigate different ways of explaining animal research to the American public by asking, among other questions, about the types of studies in which Americans believe animal research is acceptable and the species of animals they believe are acceptable for use in research. Speaking of Research will report on the results of this poll as soon as they are available – watch this space!