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.


49th Annual Convention; Denver, CO; 2023

Event Details

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Invited Paper Session #348
CE Offered: BACB
When We Ought to Save the World, But Don’t Really Feel Like it: Motivating Avoidance Behavior when Consequences are Uncertain or Delayed
Monday, May 29, 2023
11:00 AM–11:50 AM
Convention Center Four Seasons Ballroom 2/3
Area: EAB; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Karen M. Lionello-DeNolf (Assumption University)
CE Instructor: Carla H. Lagorio, Ph.D.
Presenting Author: CARLA H. LAGORIO (University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire)
Abstract: In recent decades, threats to the long-term survival of the human species have become clearer. A warming planet with slow efforts to curb emissions, looming extinction of critical species, energy or fossil fuel depletion, nuclear or environmental hazards are just a few notable concerns. Many environmental sustainability issues are behavioral – stemming from or exacerbated by our actions, and as such behavioral scientists are in a prime position to help describe, explain, and suggest ways to support more sustainable behavior. This talk will echo these aims, first by describing some of the barriers to engaging in sustainable practices. Why has society not progressed quickly over recent decades to help circumvent looming problems? Some degree of avoidance responding certainly can limit people’s contact with relevant environmental information but then, even for those who are attending, there can be additional motivational barriers limiting action. Many consequences of our current action or inaction are delayed or probabilistic. These far-removed and far-from-guaranteed outcomes can fail to motivate behavior, particularly when in competition with more immediately pressing wants, needs, and time demands. This talk will conclude by highlighting how behavioral scientists have contributed to sustainability efforts and will suggest some paths forward for better understanding and – importantly – addressing issues of environmental importance.
Instruction Level: Basic
Target Audience:

Students, Faculty, Other Professionals

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the presentation, participants will be able to: (1) describe how delay discounting impacts our ability to make choices benefiting a distant future; (2) describe how probabilistic environmental outcomes impact our motivation; (3) outline several strategies for encouraging behavior that benefits a delayed or uncertain future
CARLA H. LAGORIO (University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire)
Dr. Carla Lagorio is an Associate Professor of Psychology at the University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire, where she co-coordinates an undergraduate major in Behavior Analysis. She is Board Director and Treasurer of the Society for the Quantitative Analyses of Behavior, past President of the Mid-American Association for Behavior Analysis and has served on the editorial boards of Perspectives on Behavior Science and Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior. Her research questions are focused on quantitative assessments of choice behavior, stemming from behavioral economics and pharmacology. In addition, Dr. Lagorio is passionate about several community and environmental sustainability causes – including increasing the adoptability potential of shelter dogs and researching ways to increase composting and reduce overall levels of student food waste on campus.



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