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.

SQAB Tutorial: Applying Behavioral Economics to Health Behavior: A Case Study

David Jarmolowicz (The University of Kansas, Cofrin Logan Center for Addiction Research and Treatment)

Invited Tutorial



Biography:David Jarmolowicz is an Associate Professor in the University of Kansas’s Department of Applied Behavioral Science, a Scientist in the University of Kansas’s Cofrin Logan Center for Addiction Research & Treatment, and a Researcher for the Kansas City Quality & Value Innovation Consortium. Dr. Jarmolowicz graduated with a B.S. in Psychology from Western Michigan University in 2000, a M.A. in Psychology from the University of Maryland-Baltimore County in 2006, and a M.S. and Ph.D. in psychology from West Virginia University in 2009 and 2011, respectively. Following this initial training, Dr. Jarmolowicz completed Post-Doctoral Fellowships at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences and the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute. Dr. Jarmolowicz’s research—conducted with both humans and non-human animals—focuses on the behavioral and neurobiological processes that drive and/or are altered by health behavior and its facilitation. Much of this research falls under the umbrella of behavioral economics. This work has been recognized by Dr. Jarmolowicz being a co-recipient of the 2016 Joseph V. Brady Significant Contribution Award from the Society for the Experimental Analysis of Behavior a recipient of the 2017 of the B.F. Skinner Foundation new Basic Researcher Award from Division 25 of the American Psychological Association. Dr. Jarmolowicz is a current member ABAI Science Board, served as an Associate Editor for Perspectives on Behavior Science (2018-2021), is currently an Associate Editor for the Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior, and as an Academic Editor for PLOS-One.



As humans, we are often concerned with health behavior and its treatment. This makes sense. Many of the leading causes of death (e.g., heart disease, cancer), as identified by the Centers for Disease Control, could be prevented and/or treated by improving health behavior. While many behavior analytic techniques been leveraged to help us understand and/or improve health behaviors the insights that flow from behavioral economics show particular promise. Harnessing those insights, however, can be a daunting task—particularly for those with little experience and/or exposure to doing so. The purpose of this tutorial is to introduce those with little experience with behavioral economics to these important principles and how they can be used to understand health behavior. We will begin with a brief primer on behavioral economics, and a description of how my colleagues and/or I have used these techniques to better understand a range of health behaviors. This will culminate in specific examples of how and why we have adapted these techniques to provide insight into a range of health behaviors.


Modifed by Eddie Soh