Institutional transparency improves public perceptions of lab animal technicians and support for animal research

2018-01-03T19:14:37Z (GMT) by Katelyn Mills
<p>The use of animals in research is controversial and often takes place under a veil of secrecy. Lab animal technicians responsible for the care of animals at research institutions are sometimes described as performing ‘dirty work’ (i.e. professions that are viewed as morally tainted), and may be stigmatized by negative perceptions of their job.<i> </i>This study assessed if transparency affects public perceptions of lab animal technicians and support for animal research. Participants (n=550) were randomly assigned to one of six scenarios (using a 3x2 design) that described identical research varying only the transparency of the facility (low, high) and the species used (mice, dogs, cows). Participants provided Likert-type and open-ended responses to questions about the personal characteristics (warmth, competence) of a hypothetical lab technician ‘Cathy’ and their support for the described research. Quantitative analysis showed participants in the low-transparency condition perceived Cathy to be less warm and were less supportive of the research regardless of animal species. Qualitative responses varied greatly, with some participants expressing support for both Cathy and the research. These results suggest that increasing transparency in lab animal institutions could result in a more positive perception of lab animal researchers and the work that they do. </p>