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Searching for Animal Sentience: A Systematic Review of the Scientific Literature.

Proctor HS, Carder G, Cornish AR - Animals (Basel) (2013)

Bottom Line: However, when we consider that much of the research found to accept and utilise animal sentience is performed for the development of human drugs and treatment, it appears that measuring sentience is, after all, not quite as impossible as was previously thought.We drew conclusions on the implications for animal welfare science and argued for the importance of addressing these gaps in our knowledge.We found that there is a need for more research on positive emotional states in animals, and that there is still much to learn about taxa such as invertebrates.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: World Society for the Protection of Animals, 222 Grays Inn Rd., London, WC1X 8HB, UK. helenproctor@wspa-international.org.

ABSTRACT
Knowledge of animal sentience is fundamental to many disciplines and imperative to the animal welfare movement. In this review, we examined what is being explored and discussed, regarding animal sentience, within the scientific literature. Rather than attempting to extract meaning from the many complex and abstract definitions of animal sentience, we searched over two decades of scientific literature using a peer-reviewed list of 174 keywords. The list consisted of human emotions, terminology associated with animal sentience, and traits often thought to be indicative of subjective states. We discovered that very little was actually being explored, and instead there was already much agreement about what animals can feel. Why then is there so much scepticism surrounding the science of animal sentience? Sentience refers to the subjective states of animals, and so is often thought to be impossible to measure objectively. However, when we consider that much of the research found to accept and utilise animal sentience is performed for the development of human drugs and treatment, it appears that measuring sentience is, after all, not quite as impossible as was previously thought. In this paper, we explored what has been published on animal sentience in the scientific literature and where the gaps in research lie. We drew conclusions on the implications for animal welfare science and argued for the importance of addressing these gaps in our knowledge. We found that there is a need for more research on positive emotional states in animals, and that there is still much to learn about taxa such as invertebrates. Such information will not only be useful in supporting and initiating legislative amendments but will help to increase understanding, and potentially positive actions and attitudes towards animals.

No MeSH data available.


The total number of reviewed articles published from 1990 to 2011. The 242 articles published in 2012 were not included in this analysis as the data collection period did not account for the entire year.
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animals-03-00882-f003: The total number of reviewed articles published from 1990 to 2011. The 242 articles published in 2012 were not included in this analysis as the data collection period did not account for the entire year.

Mentions: The number of published articles discussing the sentience-related keywords has increased over the past two decades (Figure 3). We compared the number of articles published in 1990 and 2011 and found there were significantly more articles published in 2011 than in 1990 (X2 = 166.88, df = 1, P < 0.001). This represented a 693.54% increase in articles published in 2011 compared to 1990. In comparison, there was a 249.25% increase in the number of articles published in Science Direct and Ingenta Connect in 2011 compared to 1990, with the word ‘animal’ in the abstract, title or keywords. The increase in publications is also consistent for both the positive (Figure 4) and negative articles (Figure 5). There were significantly more articles published in the year 2011 compared to 1990, for both the positive (X2 = 15.7, df = 1, P < 0.001) and negative studies (X2 = 141.788, df = 1, P < 0.001). Studies being performed for each of the three ‘why’ categories also significantly increased from 1990 to 2011 (animal behaviour; X2 = 33.62, df = 1; P < 0.001; animal welfare; X2 = 30.19, df = 1, P < 0.001; and human benefit; X2 = 104.26, df = 1, P < 0.001).


Searching for Animal Sentience: A Systematic Review of the Scientific Literature.

Proctor HS, Carder G, Cornish AR - Animals (Basel) (2013)

The total number of reviewed articles published from 1990 to 2011. The 242 articles published in 2012 were not included in this analysis as the data collection period did not account for the entire year.
© Copyright Policy - open-access
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC4494450&req=5

animals-03-00882-f003: The total number of reviewed articles published from 1990 to 2011. The 242 articles published in 2012 were not included in this analysis as the data collection period did not account for the entire year.
Mentions: The number of published articles discussing the sentience-related keywords has increased over the past two decades (Figure 3). We compared the number of articles published in 1990 and 2011 and found there were significantly more articles published in 2011 than in 1990 (X2 = 166.88, df = 1, P < 0.001). This represented a 693.54% increase in articles published in 2011 compared to 1990. In comparison, there was a 249.25% increase in the number of articles published in Science Direct and Ingenta Connect in 2011 compared to 1990, with the word ‘animal’ in the abstract, title or keywords. The increase in publications is also consistent for both the positive (Figure 4) and negative articles (Figure 5). There were significantly more articles published in the year 2011 compared to 1990, for both the positive (X2 = 15.7, df = 1, P < 0.001) and negative studies (X2 = 141.788, df = 1, P < 0.001). Studies being performed for each of the three ‘why’ categories also significantly increased from 1990 to 2011 (animal behaviour; X2 = 33.62, df = 1; P < 0.001; animal welfare; X2 = 30.19, df = 1, P < 0.001; and human benefit; X2 = 104.26, df = 1, P < 0.001).

Bottom Line: However, when we consider that much of the research found to accept and utilise animal sentience is performed for the development of human drugs and treatment, it appears that measuring sentience is, after all, not quite as impossible as was previously thought.We drew conclusions on the implications for animal welfare science and argued for the importance of addressing these gaps in our knowledge.We found that there is a need for more research on positive emotional states in animals, and that there is still much to learn about taxa such as invertebrates.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: World Society for the Protection of Animals, 222 Grays Inn Rd., London, WC1X 8HB, UK. helenproctor@wspa-international.org.

ABSTRACT
Knowledge of animal sentience is fundamental to many disciplines and imperative to the animal welfare movement. In this review, we examined what is being explored and discussed, regarding animal sentience, within the scientific literature. Rather than attempting to extract meaning from the many complex and abstract definitions of animal sentience, we searched over two decades of scientific literature using a peer-reviewed list of 174 keywords. The list consisted of human emotions, terminology associated with animal sentience, and traits often thought to be indicative of subjective states. We discovered that very little was actually being explored, and instead there was already much agreement about what animals can feel. Why then is there so much scepticism surrounding the science of animal sentience? Sentience refers to the subjective states of animals, and so is often thought to be impossible to measure objectively. However, when we consider that much of the research found to accept and utilise animal sentience is performed for the development of human drugs and treatment, it appears that measuring sentience is, after all, not quite as impossible as was previously thought. In this paper, we explored what has been published on animal sentience in the scientific literature and where the gaps in research lie. We drew conclusions on the implications for animal welfare science and argued for the importance of addressing these gaps in our knowledge. We found that there is a need for more research on positive emotional states in animals, and that there is still much to learn about taxa such as invertebrates. Such information will not only be useful in supporting and initiating legislative amendments but will help to increase understanding, and potentially positive actions and attitudes towards animals.

No MeSH data available.