Association for Behavior Analysis International

The Association for Behavior Analysis International® (ABAI) is a nonprofit membership organization with the mission to contribute to the well-being of society by developing, enhancing, and supporting the growth and vitality of the science of behavior analysis through research, education, and practice.


48th Annual Convention; Boston, MA; 2022

Event Details

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Symposium #338
CE Offered: BACB
Diversity submission It’s Getting Hot in Here: Individual Behavior Change Related to Climate
Sunday, May 29, 2022
5:00 PM–5:50 PM
Meeting Level 1; Room 156A
Area: CSS/VRB; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Albert Malkin (Southern Illinois University / Western University)
Discussant: Albert Malkin (Southern Illinois University / Western University)
CE Instructor: Albert Malkin, M.S.

Throughout the last decade we have been experiencing the unprecedented effects of climate change, and although a systemic change is undisputedly necessary, individual behavior change has proven to be meaningful and is essential to prevent further depletion of natural resources and expansional increases in anthropogenic emissions. The first speaker will discuss a series of three studies analyzing the relational frames surrounding climate related purchasing using arbitrary symbols and a relational training task and was later visually depicted using the Multidimensional Scaling (MDS) procedure. The results of these studies illustrate consistency regarding an individual's climate related purchasing. Finally, using ecofeedback, the speaker will unpack the results of incentivization and climate related behaviors. The second speaker will discuss two studies, the first will analyze the results from a principal analysis of a 20-item list that identifies pro-environmental behaviors that significantly contribute to emission contributions. In the second study, the speaker will discuss the results from a correlational analysis that assessed the relationships between climate anxiety, psychological flexibility, and pro-environmental behavior. Climate change is a complex problem that requires innovative and complex solutions, and these studies together illustrate behavior analysts’ role in combating the climate crisis.

Instruction Level: Intermediate
Keyword(s): Climate anxiety, Climate change, Consumer behavior, Sustainability
Target Audience:

Behavior analysts, students, and faculty

Learning Objectives: (1) describe the role of human action in changing earth's climate; (2) discuss the interplay of climate anxiety and psychological flexibility in climate action; (3) discuss relational and contingency strategy to promote green consumption
Diversity submission Things are Heating Up: Influencing Consumer Behavior to Combat Global Warming
MEREDITH MATTHEWS (Missouri State University), Jordan Belisle (Missouri State University), Lauren Rose Hutchison (Missouri State University )
Abstract: Consumer behavior plays a centralized role in anthropogenic (i.e., human) factors that are causing accelerating rates of global warming. Moreover, consumer behavior selects practices of organizations that contribute the greatest emissions in the developed world. We developed a series of three experiments to evaluate relational verbal factors and contingency factors that could influence consumer behavior. The first study evaluated environmental purchasing following a relational training task used to establish arbitrary symbols as pro or anti-environmental. Participants completed a purchasing task before and after the relational training, and 6 out of the 7 participants significantly increased spending on the pro-environmental products as denoted by the arbitrary symbols. In the second study, we graphed these relational frames using a Multidimensional Scaling (MDS) procedure generating results consistent with predictions based in Relational Density Theory. Thus, there appear to be orderly patterns in participants’ relational responding around pro-climate purchasing. Finally, in the third study we evaluated a combined intervention that included self-monitoring of anti-climate and pro-climate behavior using a commercially available application to track consumption. Extra credit was provided contingent on improved performance in a changing-criterion design across participants. Results suggest that contingencies, in addition to relational verbal behavior, can effectively influence consumer behavior to impact earth’s climate.
Diversity submission 

Flight or Fight? Exploring the Relationship Between Pro-Climate Behavior, Climate Anxiety, and Psychological Flexibility

LAUREN ROSE HUTCHISON (Missouri State University ), Meredith Matthews (Missouri State University), Jordan Belisle (Missouri State University)

As our climate continues to warm due to anthropogenic (i.e., human) causes, natural disasters continue to increase in magnitude and intensity while climate migration and justice issues become increasingly salient. Human action is needed; however, experiential avoidance of climate action may occur along with high rates of anxiety about climate change. Climate anxiety can become maladaptive when it impacts an individual's quality of life, and arguably when it hinders their ability to engage in pro-climate behavior. In a first study, we developed a 20-item climate checklist from an initial list of 100 items. The results of a principal component analysis identified three factors where consumer behavior was most predictive of high emissions in our sample. In a second study, we evaluated the relationships between climate anxiety (Climate Anxiety Scale) , psychological flexibility (AAQ-II), and engagement in pro-climate behavior as indexed on the climate behavior checklist. Results support a psychological flexibility model of climate anxiety wherein promoting greater flexibility around issues of climate change could influence pro-climate behavior.




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