Public attitudes to animal research in 2018

This Ipsos MORI report presents the findings of a 2018 survey commissioned by the Office for Life Sciences to understand current public awareness of and attitudes towards the use of animals in research.

The author(s)

  • Michael Clemence Ipsos Public Affairs, UK
Get in touch

This report presents the findings of the 2018 survey into public acceptance, awareness and attitudes towards the use of animals in scientific research in the UK. The research was carried out by Ipsos MORI on behalf of the Office for Life Sciences, a joint office between the Department for Health and Social Care and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).

This is the third wave of a tracker survey first conducted in 2014. The report for 2016 can be found here, and the 2014 reports are available here. Fieldwork for each wave has been carried out using Ipsos MORI’s face-to-face omnibus survey. This consistency of methodology allows for greater confidence in cross-wave comparisons.

Key findings from this wave:

  • Key measures of the acceptability of animal research are at similar levels to 2016. However, public acceptability is contingent on the purpose and context of the research.
  • However, animal welfare is becoming a bigger consideration for some members of the public and the link between animal research and human health appears weaker.
  • Public trust in the regulation of animal research in the UK remains at levels recorded in previous years.
  • Public awareness of government work on the “three Rs” of animal research remains low.
  • Two thirds of the public do not feel well-informed about the use of animals in research, while interest in finding out more about work to find alternatives and improve the welfare of animals in research is high and has risen.
  • Views on the acceptability of protest and demonstration formats are unchanged. The primary characteristic the public attribute to animal research organisations remains “secrecy”.

Technical note: A sample of 1,011 adults aged 15+ from across Great Britain was interviewed face-to-face and in-home between 31 August and 17 September 2018. Ipsos MORI's Capibus vehicle was used for this survey. Data has been weighted to reflect the population profile of Great Britain.

The author(s)

  • Michael Clemence Ipsos Public Affairs, UK