Anxiety in Relation to Animal Environment and Welfare
Negative emotions do not compromise welfare, as long as they do not exceed the individual’s adaptive capabilities. Anxiety, though a negative emotion, is highly conserved during evolution, and essential for enabling an individual to both escape from dangerous situations and to avoid them in the future, i.e. to adapt to environmental challenges. However, the interactions between anxiety and environment are highly dynamic and can result in non-adaptive anxiety responses. Non-adaptive anxiety responses not only compromise the animal’s welfare, but may be substantially detrimental to experimental results even in non-behavioural studies by dramatically reducing the reliability of the study results obtained. Detailed knowledge about the emotional phenotype of experimental animals used is necessary to reach a balance between reliability of experimental research and the welfare of laboratory animals.