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.


44th Annual Convention; San Diego, CA; 2018

Event Details

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B. F. Skinner Lecture Series Paper Session #534

The Dragons of Inaction: Psychological Barriers that Limit Pro-Environmental Behavior

Monday, May 28, 2018
5:00 PM–5:50 PM
Marriott Marquis, San Diego Ballroom B
Area: SCI; Domain: Applied Research
CE Instructor: Cynthia J. Pietras, Ph.D.
Chair: Cynthia J. Pietras (Western Michigan University)
ROBERT GIFFORD (University of Victoria)
Robert Gifford is an environmental psychologist who is Professor of Psychology and Environmental Studies at the University of Victoria. He is a Fellow of the American Psychological Association, the Canadian Psychological Association, and the Association for Psychological Science, and is the recipient of career awards from the Environmental Design Research Association and Division 34 of APA, and for the International Advancement of Psychology from CPA. Professor Gifford is the author of over 140 refereed publications and book chapters, five editions of Environmental Psychology: Principles and Practice (5th edition 2014), and edited Research Methods for Environmental Psychology (2016). He was chief editor of the Journal of Environmental Psychology for 13 years and served as President of the Environmental Psychology division of the International Association of Applied Psychology, APA’s Population and Environment Division, and CPA’s environmental section. He is the Founding Director of the University of Victoria’s Interdisciplinary Program in the Human Dimensions of Climate Change, and the Lead author, British Columbia, for the forthcoming national report: Canada in a Changing Climate: Advancing our Knowledge for Action.

Most people think climate change and sustainability as important problems, but too few individuals engage in mitigating behavior to stem destruction of the natural environment. Why is that? Structural barriers are part of the answer, but psychological barriers also impede behavioral choices that would facilitate climate change mitigation, adaptation, and environmental sustainability. Many individuals are engaged in some ameliorative action, but most could do more. They are hindered by seven categories of psychological barriers that include 40 particular barriers, known as the “dragons of inaction.” These include limited cognition, ideological worldviews, social constraints, sunk costs, discredence, perceived risks of change, tokenism, and rebound effects. Structural barriers must be removed wherever possible, but this is unlikely to be sufficient. Psychologists must work with other scientists, technical experts, and policymakers to help citizens overcome these psychological barriers.

Target Audience:

Board certified behavior analysts; licensed psychologists; graduate students.

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the presentation, particpants will be able to: (1) describe the Dragons of Inaction; (2) define the metaphoric mules and honeybees; (3) describe seven ways to slay the dragons.



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