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.


2012 Behavior Change for a Sustainable World Conference

Event Details

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Invited Paper Session #11
CE Offered: PSY/BACB

Helping People Go Green With Applied Behavior Analysis

Saturday, August 4, 2012
9:30 AM–10:30 AM
US Bank Conference Theater
Area: CSE; Domain: Service Delivery
Instruction Level: Intermediate
CE Instructor: E. Scott Geller, Ph.D.
Chair: William L. Heward (The Ohio State University)
E. SCOTT GELLER (Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University)
Scott Geller, Ph.D., is an alumni distinguished professor at Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA, and director of the Center for Applied Behavior Systems in the Department of Psychology. He is also senior partner of Safety Performance Solutions, a leading-edge training and consulting firm targeting occupational health, safety, and sustainability. In 2009, the American Psychological Foundation honored Dr. Geller with the Gold Medal Award for Lifetime Achievement in Psychology for the Public Interest. For a decade after the first Earth Day in 1970, Dr. Geller and his students conducted numerous field studies to demonstrate the social validity of applying behavior analysis to increase environmentally friendly behavior (EFB) in organizations and throughout communities. This research was summarized in the book, Preserving the Environment: New Strategies for Behavior Change (Geller, Winett, & Everett, 1982, Pergamon Press). Unfortunately, few of the interventions revealed in this book to increase EFBs have been implemented. Dr. Geller's presentation will activate a reconsideration of how applied behavior analysis can contribute significantly to sustainability.

In the 1970s, applied behavior analysts demonstrated a number of practical and effective ways to increase environmentally friendly behavior (EFB). Despite their success, these interventions have not been implemented on a large scale. Why not? Dr. E. Scott Geller will address this critical question by reviewing early applications of behavioral science aimed at increasing EFB and by sharing lessons learned from his 40 years of behavior-based intervention in organizations and communities. These lessons indicate hurdles to overcome to achieve large-scale impact on sustainability. The need for self-motivated "actively caring" will be addressed, as well as how a paradigm shift to humanistic behaviorism can increase actively caring for the environment throughout families, organizations, and communities worldwide.

Target Audience:

BACB-certified behavior analysts and licensed psychologists.

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of this session, participants should be able to:
  1. Describe published application of behavior analysis to protect the environment, beginning in the 1970’s.
  2. Explain the limitations of published applications of behavior analysis to protect the environment.
  3. Suggest ways to increase the large-scale impact of applications of behavior analysis to protect the environment.
  4. Explain how to determine if an individual feels empowered and self-motivated to apply an intervention for sustainability.
  5. List practical ways to address the dissemination challenge of applying behavior analysis for sustainability. 



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