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.


42nd Annual Convention; Downtown Chicago, IL; 2016

Event Details

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Symposium #479
Unique Applications of Behavioral Science: Actively Caring for Athletes, College Students, and Mother Earth
Tuesday, May 31, 2016
2:00 PM–2:50 PM
Montreux, Swissotel
Area: CSE/OBM; Domain: Translational
Chair: E. Scott Geller (Virginia Tech)
Abstract: This symposium describes three ongoing applications of behavioral science to improve athletic performance, prevent alcohol abuse, and conserve environment resources. The first behavioral-observation and intervention study demonstrates how the verbal behavior of wrestling coaches can facilitate or inhibit an athlete’s self-motivation. The impact of an intervention to improve coaching within this context is ongoing and the behavioral impact per athlete and coach will be described. The second presentation describes a community-based study of eight of the most popular BAC-estimation phone applications to determine their accuracy among 583 participants. Actual BACs were taken of the participants and compared with estimations from eight phone applications used frequently throughout the U.S. The third study was conducted at a large Kroger grocery store to evaluate a behavior-based interventions to increase the use of re-usable shopping bags. The community-based intervention included commitment and branding components. For 45 years, the Chair has conducted or supervised community and organizational behavioral-science research to design and evaluate interventions to improve human welfare on a large scale. Thus, he will provide valuable insight regarding the potential of the research presented here to benefit organizations and communication in the U.S. and beyond.
Keyword(s): alcohol intervention, coaching athletes, environmental sustainability

Self-Motivation Among College Athletes: What Difference Can a Coach Make?

DEVIN CARTER (Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Center for Applied Behavior Systems), Peter Coiley (Virginia Tech), E. Scott Geller (Virginia Tech)

Sport psychologists claim self-motivation is key to becoming a successful athlete. Plus, behavioral scientists have found that perceptions of autonomy, competence, and relatedness enhance self-motivation. Question: How does the verbal behavior of a coach benefit or stifle the self-motivation of a college athlete? We explored empirical answers to this question by systematically observing verbal interactions between college wrestling coaches and wrestlers during practice and during inter-collegiate competition. Specifically, we developed and applied a behavioral checklist to categorize a coach's statements as potentially increasing or decreasing a wrestler's perception of autonomy, competence, and/or relatedness, and used a semantic differential to assess wrestlers’ perceptions of autonomy, competence, and relatedness, as well as their overall self-motivation before and after practice and a competition. Preliminary data after just two weeks of observations indicated that 65% of coaching feedback was corrective and of the supportive feedback behaviors, 68% were general rather than behavior-based. We will continue these observations for four weeks and then show the coaches their own data as feedback. With a multiple-baseline design between coaches, we will evaluate behavioral impact per coach and athlete. We will explore the addition of an individual feedback intervention to coach the coaches.

Smart-Phone Applications for Blood Alcohol Concentration: Do They Help or Hinder?
ALEXANDRA BAZDAR (Center for Applied Behavior Systems), Ryan C. Smith (Virginia Tech Transportation Institute), Ashley Underwood (Virginia Tech), E. Scott Geller (Virginia Tech)
Abstract: Phone applications have been developed to inform people when they are too intoxicated to drive. This field study systematically evaluated eight of the most popular BAC-estimation phone applications (four Android; four iPhone). These apps usually require users to enter how long they’ve been drinking, the number of drinks they’ve consumed, their gender, and their weight. Then the app provides an estimated BAC to the user. These phone applications have reported hundreds of thousands of downloads by users throughout the United States. We tested their accuracy among 583 participants. Our RAs helped the participants enter their drinking information. The estimate provided was then compared with the BAC obtained via a breathalyzer. To our surprise and disappointment, the average phone application was incorrect by 0.043g/dL. The figure depicts the differences between the PhoneApp estimation and actual BAC. The positive difference in all but one can indicate the PhoneApp usually overestimated BAC. However, if the user had a BAC over the legal limit to drive, the phone application told the individual s/he was actually under the legal limit on 14.2 percent of these occasions.
Encouraging Environmentally Responsible Behavior: Will Social Identity Increase the Use of Reusable Shopping Bags?
RUTH-ANNE E. POLI (Virginia Tech), Micah Roediger (Virginia Tech), E. Scott Geller (Virginia Tech)
Abstract: Applied behavioral science has increased the frequency of environmentally responsible behavior (ERB) with interventions that include public commitment and consequence strategies. However, antecedent strategies and individual difference variables have been largely unexplored as explanations for who is most influenced by an intervention to increase ERB occurrence. In this field study, we evaluated the impact of Virginia Tech (VT)-branded versus non-branded reusable shopping bags distributed to students and community residents at a large Kroger grocery store. Shoppers are being surveyed on measures of their organizational identity, identity fusion and environmental attitudes. By tracking 100 individually-numbered VT-branded and 100 plain reusable bags, the impact of a public commitment intervention is being evaluated. Prior survey results were used to address barriers for not using reusable bags and for designing the intervention. The connection between the survey data (see the table below) and the intervention will be explained, as well as the impact of VT-branding and commitment on repeated use of a reusable bag.



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