Monkeys Denied Water in Ridiculous Experiment That You Paid For

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Update: In response to PETA's appeal to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) to stop wasting our tax dollars by funding experimenter Michael Platt's cruel studies on monkeys, including the absurd "sex and power in advertising" experiment described below, the agency actually defended Platt's experiments, absurdly writing that "this research can help us better understand social processing in humans." Did we read that correctly? Monkeys looking at a Domino's logo has something to do with "social processing"? We know a better way to learn about humans: Study actual humans.

Please let NIMH know that monkeys shouldn't be forced to live in unnatural conditions, kept thirsty, and deprived of everything that would make their lives worth living for any reason—let alone advertising.

monkeys abused in experiment
Image: Acikalin, et al., "Rhesus Macaques Form Preferences for Brand Logos Through Sex and Social Status Based Advertising," PLoS One 13.2 (2018)

Experimenters at Duke University purposely kept 10 macaque monkeys thirsty–—likely for days—in order to force them to cooperate in an experiment on… (wait for it)… sex and power in advertising.

In this federally funded fiasco, experimenters made the monkeys use computer touch screens to select brand logos—such as those of Pizza Hut and Nike—based on their pairings with pictures of a dominant male monkey, a subordinate male, or the hindquarters of a sexually receptive female. In order to compel them to perform this absurd task, experimenters first deprived them of sufficient water so that they would be thirsty and therefore desperate for the small drops of fruit juice that they received as a "reward" for their "cooperation."

This experiment—which the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) thought was a fine use of tax dollars—concluded that associations with sex and power sell products, something we've known is true for humans for decades. And human volunteers could easily have been used instead.

We're not letting the NIMH off the hook for funding these cruel and completely useless experiments on monkeys.

Please speak out!

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Joshua A.
Gordon, M.D., Ph.D.
National Institute of Mental Health

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