Making a Footprint in Environmental Sustainability: A Behavioral Systems Approach to Engaging the Behavioral Community

  • Holly A. SeniukEmail author
  • Traci M. CihonEmail author
  • Molly Benson
  • Molli M. Luke
Cultural and Behavioral Systems Science


Climate change is arguably the most pressing issue facing humanity today. There is significant research to support the argument that climate change is a human-created problem and it can only be addressed by changing human behavior. Despite the magnitude of the issue and the potential for behavior science to make a significant contribution, there are few behavior analysts/scientists currently working in climate change. One possible explanation is that there is limited access to preparation for and opportunities to apply our science to large-scale issues. In response, the Behaviorists for Social Responsibility Special Interest Group of the Association for Behavior Analysis International developed the Matrix Project as a way to apply Behavioral Systems Analysis to issues of social importance. By understanding the contingencies that hinder or promote working in a particular area we can begin to create the conditions that will facilitate such work. The purpose of this article is twofold: 1) to demonstrate how the Matrix Project may be used to increase the likelihood that behavior analysts/scientists will work in areas of social importance using environmental sustainability as an example, and 2) encourage behavior analysts/scientists to target and understand complex systems by providing examples of actionable steps that could be generalized to other important social issues.


Applied behavior analysis Behavioral systems analysis Climate change Environment Sustainability 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

The information presented here is in compliance with the ethical standards of this journal.

Conflict of Interest

Holly A. Seniuk, Traci M. Cihon, Molly Benson, and Molli M. Luke declare that we have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

No human or animal subjects took part in the current study.


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Copyright information

© Association for Behavior Analysis International 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Behavior Analyst Certification Board; Behaviorists for Social Responsibility, University of Nevada RenoRenoUSA
  2. 2.Behavior Analyst Certification BoardLittletonUSA
  3. 3.University of North Texas; Behaviorists for Social ResponsibilityDentonUSA

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