Tanibe, T., Watanabe, T., Oguchi, M., Iijima, K., & Ota, K. (2024).

Tanibe, T. (谷辺哲史), Watanabe, T. (渡辺匠), Oguchi, M. (小口峰樹), Iijima, K., & Ota, K. (2024). 
The psychological process underlying attitudes toward human-animal chimeric brain research: An empirical investigation. 
Neuroethics, 17, 15.

This study adopted an empirical method to investigate lay people’s attitudes toward the bioethical issues of human-animal chimeric brains. The results of online surveys showed that (1) people did not entirely reject chimeric brain research, but showed slightly more negative responses than ordinary animal testing; and that (2) their ethical concerns arose in connection with the perception that chimerism in the brain would humanize the animal. This means that people’s psychology was consistent with the ethical argument that crossing the human-animal boundary would bring moral confusion to our society. Meanwhile, it was not in line with another argument that moral status depended on having high capacities, and that chimerism would cause a problem if it enhanced animals’ capacities. Furthermore, this study analyzed additional psychological factors related to people’s moral judgment and the relationship among those factors. Several psychological factors, such as the perception that chimeric brain research is unnatural, were identified as mediating the relationship between perception of animal humanization and ethical concerns about creating and using chimeric brains. Introducing an empirical approach to the ethics of human-animal chimeric brains brought two findings: (1) this study informed us of socially shared intuition regarding this novel technology; and (2) it unveiled the psychological processes behind people’s ethical concerns in more detail than they spontaneously mentioned. These findings will help to build normative arguments and future policies that are understandable and acceptable to society.