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.


45th Annual Convention; Chicago, IL; 2019

Event Details

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Symposium #22
CE Offered: BACB
Gamifying Climate Change: Making Sustainability Fun
Saturday, May 25, 2019
10:00 AM–10:50 AM
Fairmont, B2, Imperial Ballroom
Area: CSS; Domain: Theory
Chair: Jonathan Kimball (The Ohio State University)
CE Instructor: Susan M. Schneider, Ph.D.

Gamification is the application of game elements, such as points and competitions, to real life - and behavior analysts did it for years without thinking of it in this manner. When video games became immensely popular, gamification reached whole new scholarly levels as well. Some behavior analysis principles have long been incorporated, and that continues to be the case. Compared to health and education, sustainability gamification is more recent, but just as critical. What can behavior analysts working in sustainability learn from the current state of the field of gamification? What can we contribute? In this symposium, we survey the field, examine some sustainability examples, offer suggestions, and provide perspective on gamification in the context of other sustainability/climate change initiatives.

Instruction Level: Basic
Keyword(s): climate change, gamification, sustainability
Target Audience:

Behavior analysts at all levels


CANCELED: Gamifying Behavior Change: A Brief Introduction

ZACHARY H. MORFORD (Zuce Technologies)

“Gamification” refers to the process of designing an activity to more closely resemble a game. Though gamification as a term entered the cultural lexicon around 2010, the basic idea behind gamification is much older. Games are incredibly popular. For example, in 2018 video games alone are projected to be a $138 billion industry globally, and gamers collectively spend billions of hours playing video games every year (this number excludes other forms of games). Capitalizing on this popularity, gamification practitioners strive to make everyday activities more engaging and interesting, and attempt to do so by borrowing from game design. Examples include applying game design principles to diet, exercise, consumer energy consumption, and education. Effective gamification comes down to effective use of behavior principles and good user experience design. In this presentation, I’ll provide a brief background on the history of gamification, a behavior analytic interpretation of the concept, and an overview of the current literature.

Conservation Clue: Help Us Gamify This Green Behavior Game
WILLIAM L. HEWARD (The Ohio State University), Jonathan W. Kimball (The Ohio State University)
Abstract: Predictable “if-then” behavior-reward contingencies can increase eco- friendly behavior (e.g., “If you ride the bus to work on Wednesdays, then you get a token for a free ride.”). If the presence or absence of the contingency is easily discriminated, however, responding in the contingency’s absence is unlikely (“It’s Thursday—I think I’ll drive.”). Indiscriminable contingencies (IC) offer one way to prevent this problem. ICs have helped young children share toys, select healthy snacks, and stay on task; secondary students maintain improved levels of academic productivity; and adult vocational trainees respond appropriately to feedback from co-workers and supervisors (references available upon request). These studies suggest that the occurrence of sustainable practices (e.g., walking/biking, recycling, unplugging) can be increased by making effective if-then contingencies indiscriminable across responses and environments (e.g., home, work, community). We will describe Conservation Clue, a multidimensional variation of the classic board game that features indiscriminable contingencies. Conservation Clue provides participants with a radically different and enticing “if-then” contingency: If you cannot tell which of several green behaviors, performed exactly where or when, will produce a reward, then the best strategy to optimize reinforcement is to act green in every way, everywhere, all the time.
Perspectives on Behavior Analysis, Gamification, and Sustainability
SUSAN M. SCHNEIDER (Root Solutions), Zachary H. Morford (Zuce Technologies)
Abstract: Behavior analysis has always been part of both gamification and sustainability - but generally a small part. How can we up our game, so to speak? Making sacrifices fun is a tall order, but we’ve succeeded in other areas. How can we learn from these examples? Beyond our continuing contributions to gamification lie other questions: Is it likely to be a significant part of sustainable behavior change? Or, given our limited numbers, should we concentrate instead on more traditional behavior analysis interventions, and the incorporation of more behavior analysis into mainstream sustainability? This talk will attempt to summarize the current status of behavior analysis in the much larger interdisciplinary effort supporting behavior change against climate change. How are we behavior analysts doing? How can we do more? Audience suggestions will be welcome.



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