Attitudes in China, Japan, and the Netherlands toward the Use of Animals in Medical Research

B.T. Su, C. Zhang*, P. Martens

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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The use of animals in medical research raises ethical challenges. In light of this moral issue, this study sought to investigate and compare people’s attitudes toward the use of ten animal species in medical research based on data collected from China (n = 504; men = 294, women = 210), Japan (n = 900; men = 446, women = 454), and the Netherlands (n = 506; men = 259, women = 247) using online questionnaires. We also aimed to explore the relationship between people’s ethical ideology (idealism and relativism) and their attitudes toward animal use in medical research. Data were analyzed using both chi-square tests and binary logistic regression analysis. We found that the Chinese group showed a higher level of acceptability for using all ten animal species in medical research, as compared with the Dutch and Japanese respondents. Regarding people’s attitudes toward animal-based medical research, ethical idealism was found to be a predictor for Dutch people, and ethical relativism for the Japanese group. Neither ethical idealism nor relativism showed predictive correlations with Chinese people’s attitudes toward using any animal species in medical research. Significant negative correlations were found between people’s acceptability for using animals in medical research and their attitudes toward animals in general, across the three countries. Our findings indicate that ethical ideologies behave differently in predicting people’s attitudes toward animal-based medical research in China, Japan, and the Netherlands, which might be due to different levels of animal welfare and differing cultures between countries. In conclusion, the integration of ethical variables and social value preferences of a given society is of crucial importance in broadening people’s understanding of balancing animal welfare concerns with the facilitation of scientific research.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)409-422
Number of pages14
Issue number3
Early online date24 Nov 2021
Publication statusPublished - 4 May 2022


  • Ethical idealism
  • ethical relativism
  • human-animal interaction
  • laboratory animals
  • medical research
  • 3RS


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