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.


35th Annual Convention; Phoenix, AZ; 2009

Event Details

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Symposium #296
CE Offered: BACB
Behavioral Approaches to Sustainability
Sunday, May 24, 2009
4:00 PM–5:20 PM
North 221 AB
Area: OBM/CSE; Domain: Applied Behavior Analysis
Chair: Jeanine Plowman Stratton (Furman University)
Discussant: H. Allen Murphy (Florida State University at Panama City & FABA)
CE Instructor: Jonathan J. Tarbox, Ph.D.
Abstract: One of the most popular topics of concern in our society relates to issues of the environment and rising approaches to promoting a sustainable environment. This symposium will discuss aspects of this socially significant issue by presenting ways behavior analysis has been used to promote sustainability efforts. Presenters will discuss various projects related to the promotion of environmental awareness and reduction of human consumption of natural resources and energy. Interventions include applications of behavior analysis, specifically those commonly used in the area Organizational Behavior Management, such as performance feedback on consumption rates. All studies were conducted on college campuses and all involve a focus of reduction of consumption. Two projects investigated the use of performance feedback on reducing paper printing, targeting specific campus departments and measuring amount of paper used. Both of these studies also used unique graphic feedback features to represent the depletion of natural resources. The other project examined the use of antecedents (prompts) and performance feedback on the light usage in a public campus building. Cost benefit analysis, long-rang impact of continued results, and implications for research in this area will be discussed.
Improving Light Usage in a University Building Through the Use of Task Clarification and Feedback
Stephen Shea (Furman University), Jeanine Plowman Stratton (Furman University), JENNIFER H. REINOVSKY (Furman University)
Abstract: As energy prices climb to their highest rates in history, both at home and abroad, energy conservation and sustainable practices have become socially responsible behaviors. This study investigated the effects of task clarification and feedback on energy consumption in a university building, specifically dealing with reducing unnecessary lighting. The participants included the staff of the building as well as students who regularly used the building. Data were collected through direct observation of the daily light settings. An additive ABC design was used. The first phase of intervention consisted of verbal task clarification with prompts, and the second phase included delivery of performance feedback to participants on their light use. Preliminary data suggests that task clarification has an immediate, but modest effect on power usage. The data are still being collected for the academic semester during the feedback phase. Implications of energy reduction strategies, cost benefit analysis, and reliance on technology with inclusion of behavioral emphasis for sustainable efforts will be discussed.
Behavior-Based Sustainability: Reducing Paper Use in an Academic Setting
GREG J. CLOONAN (Furman University), Jeanine Plowman Stratton (Furman University)
Abstract: Forests are being destroyed at an unsustainable pace. Every year the United States uses 4 million tons of copy paper (, and universities are some of the largest consumers in the country. In their sustainability efforts, most academic institutions recycle and use post-consumer paper, but could they be doing more? This study examines the application of behavior analysis for the purpose of decreasing excessive paper use in secondary education, focusing on paper used for printing. The project was conducted in a multiple baseline design across two academic and one administrative department on a University campus. Baseline data of daily copy paper use was taken before a multiple phase intervention was implemented. The intervention included an initial phase with suggestion of alternatives to excessive printing followed by a phase of graphic feedback of weekly paper use. Unique visual representation of trees was used to illustrate the depletion of natural resources consumed by the department due to printing. Data are still being collected for the academic semester. Implications for reduction in consumption of natural resources, impact of behavior change for reduced consumption, and cost benefits analyses will be discussed.
The use of visual prompts and graphic feedback to decrease printer use and increase paper recycling in academic departments
DANIEL A. DAWSON (Youngstown State University), Michael C. Clayton (Youngstown State University)
Abstract: Printer use is an overlooked and resource intensive activity in both business and education. The current study used a multiple baseline design to decrease the amount of paper used in three college departments and increase the amount of paper recycled in both. The first intervention used a plain sign to inform faculty and staff of the average costs, in terms of paper and toner used, of the items printed most, as well as a reminder to conserve paper and recycle. The second intervention used a more elaborate sign, consisting of a popular culture icon delivering the reminder and graphical feedback of the number of trees saved if the previous week’s decrease were to continue for the remainder of the year. An additional intervention for two of the departments was the addition of a recycle bin in a more accessible area. The interventions were effective for increasing conservation and sustainability, and are discussed in terms of increasing responsible use of finite resources on college campuses.



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