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.


47th Annual Convention; Online; 2021

All times listed are Eastern time (GMT-4 at the time of the convention in May).

Event Details

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Symposium #310
CE Offered: BACB
Diversity submission A Nested Model to Stop Climate Change: The Needs of the Many and the Needs of the Few
Sunday, May 30, 2021
5:00 PM–6:50 PM
Area: CSS; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Meredith Matthews (Missouri State University )
Discussant: Julia H. Fiebig (Ball State University; Applied Global Initiatives LLC)
CE Instructor: Jordan Belisle, Ph.D.

In this symposium, we will explore multiple layers of a nested model of behavior that impacts earth’s climate. The model expands from solutions at the level of the individual (i.e., individualistic responsibility) to challenges that persist at the level of small (i.e., interrelated dynamic contingencies) and large (i.e., social policies) groups. First, we describe an experimental program to reduce individual carbon emission through a functional assessment of green behavior and an embedded shaping procedure. Second, we will discuss a series of basic experiments that model resource depletion as a function of competition that influences contingencies at the level of the individual and small groups. Third, we will describe how policies at a social level can impose constraints of collective behavior - but that preference for these policies can be successfully modelled within a delay discounting paradigm. Finally, we will move beyond discussing individuals’ context-specific behavior to propose a mathematical model that profiles individuals’ environmental choices across multiple circumstances and domains.

Instruction Level: Intermediate
Keyword(s): Climate change, Discounting, Dynamic Systems, Sustainability
Target Audience:

Behavior Analysts

Learning Objectives: (1) describe behaviors that are related to emissions and sustainability; (2) describe the role of interrelated contingencies on sustainable behavior; (3) describe how social policies exist within a multilevel model
Diversity submission 

Evaluating the Construct Validity of an Itemized Climate Change Assessment

CALEB STANLEY (Utah Valley University), Jordan Belisle (Missouri State University), Taylor Marie Lauer (Missouri State University ), Meredith Matthews (Missouri State University ), Sydney Jensen (Utah Valley University)

In recent years, concerns relating to global warming and the need for reducing carbon emissions has increased. An effective approach for reducing overall carbon emissions is to increase sustainability related behaviors. While such an approach affords this utility, an underlying factor that potentially limits the extent to which individuals engage in sustainable behavior is limited knowledge or information as to what specific behaviors are considered to be sustainable. As such, there is a need for a methodology to identify deficits as they relate to sustainability behavior. The current symposium discusses the development of an assessment designed to provide a measure of an individual’s sustainability behavior. In addition, researchers sought to evaluate the validity of the assessment by determining the extent to which assessment scores were related to carbon output. Scores for the sustainability assessment as well as carbon footprint measures were collected, and a Pearson product-moment correlation coefficient was obtained between the two measures. The results showed a moderate, negative correlation between scores on the sustainability assessment and carbon footprint measures. These findings suggest the sustainability assessment is a valid tool which has good correspondence with other sustainability measures, and it can be used to identify sustainability related behavior deficits.

Diversity submission Investigating Resource Consumption and Competitiveness using Experimental Analogues
JULIO CAMARGO (Federal University of São Carlos), Jordan Belisle (Missouri State University), Caleb Stanley (Utah Valley University)
Abstract: Several factors hamper the sustainable use of common-pool resources, including the growing competition between individuals who depend on such resources to survive. We describe two basic experiments that model the interrelated dynamics of situations in which the resources are scarce and shared among the individuals within small groups. The first experiment used an online network task to investigate how making individuals' returns contingent on group performance can affect resource depletion. Participants were XX college students, distributed in groups of four. On the baseline, individual earnings were not contingent on group performance. On intervention, the individual earnings depended on the group's average consumption. Results revealed increased resource depletion during the intervention compared to baseline. The second experiment used a fishing game to evaluate how opponents' competitiveness affects individual behavior. Sixteen college students played the game individually, sharing a fishpond with two opponents controlled by the computer. For half of the participants, opponents' consumption was more aggressive than the other half. Results showed that participants who played against more aggressive opponents had more difficulty to sustain the resources and presented more competitive responses. Taken together, the results of these two experiments revealed how inter-group competitiveness could modulate the sustainability of shared resources.
Diversity submission 

Things are Heating Up: Delaying the Point of No Return Through Policy

JORDAN BELISLE (Missouri State University), Meredith Matthews (Missouri State University), Lisa Vangsness (Wichita State University)

Policies provide shared social and economic contingencies that can influence the behavior of large groups, representing the outermost layer of our nested model. We will discuss data collected within multiple delay discounting tasks that have been adjusted to capture policy preferences and willingness to forego high emission commodities to delay the climate point of no return. Results suggest that participants discount climate change similar to catastrophic monetary losses, and that policy manipulations (group versus individual contingencies) can influence willingness to forego emission commodities. Behavior analysts may therefore play a role by quantitatively evaluating preference for policies that target high emission behavior. Research collected during and throughout COVID-19 will also be reviewed as an approximate model to the climate crisis showing that perceived probability of a catastrophic outcome and grouped versus individual contingencies can have a considerable impact on participants’ willingness to alter or adjust behavior to delay or avoid future hardship. Finally, the talk will conclude with an analysis of how the policy layer may conceptually interact with lower layers of the nested model.

Diversity submission 

Using Multi-Level Modeling to Profile Behavior Across Multiple Choice Domains

LISA VANGSNESS (Wichita State University)

Traditionally, discounting data is analyzed between-subjects in the form of indifference points. Separate curves are fit for each combination of conditions, and a curve-fitting parameter, k, is compared across conditions with a t-test or ANOVA. However, it is also possible to analyze this data in a repeated-measures analysis that treats responses as individually related cases. This talk will compare and contrast approaches using environmental discounting data and discuss how a multi-level approach allows researchers to model contingencies that occur on a geographic or partisan level, while preserving and studying relationships that unfold on the level of the individual. The talk will be practically-oriented, with R-markdown text provided as supplemental material.




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