SIG Spotlight: Behaviorists for Social Responsibility SIG

“BFSR continues to disseminate socially relevant articles, videos, and news stories to bring the impact of more abstract concepts to a relatable level.”

Holly Seniuk, Mark Mattaini, Richard Rakos, Traci Cihon, Jose Ardila, & Kendra Combs

The Behaviorists for Social Responsibility (BFSR) SIG is composed of dedicated volunteers and a board of Planners (drawing on Skinner’s Walden Two). The Planners, who meet monthly, currently consist of Jose Ardila, Kendra Combs, Traci Cihon, Sarah Richling, Mark Mattaini, Richard Rakos, and Holly Seniuk. The Planner structure, active volunteers, the easy availability of digital communications, and the resulting mutual accountability continues to produce a high level of activity by the SIG. The following report summarizes only some of the SIG’s activities for 2020.
Many members of the BFSR Planners supported the completion of Behavioral Perspectives on Culture and Community, the first of a new series of books to be published through ABAI. The book contains 17 chapters from leading behavior scientists engaged in research and applications of culturo-behavior science and was published in January 2021.

BFSR has continued to focus on the Matrix Project (see BFSR’s website at for more information) which was first introduced in the 2014 Behavior and Social Issues editorial (Mattaini & Luke, 2014). The Matrix Project is focused on increasing the number of behavior analysts working on social issues (e.g., social justice, poverty, sustainability, public health) using behavioral systems analysis to identify interrelations and practical steps that may be taken across more than a dozen sectors/players (e.g., behavior-analytic education programs, journals, students) who might have an impact on this goal. A significant amount of activity has continued to occur in the last year, so we will highlight a few of the recent activities.

  • Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Education Group: The goal for this group is to develop materials to increase the inclusion of cultural/behavioral systems level content, particularly with emphasis on social issues, in university coursework. The Course Unit Group previously created multiple sample course units in the area of environmental sustainability. These units are freely available on the BFSR website and include links to the Behavior Analyst Certification Board®’s BCBA®/BcaBA® Task List (5th ed.) items, student learning objectives, activities, assessments, and relevant readings. In 2020 the group created a survey that generated approximately 470 responses from behavior analysts. The purpose of the survey was to better understand how individuals are currently contacting behavior analytic content on social issues and what resources would be most beneficial. The group is currently working on analyzing the results of the survey for dissemination.
  • Regional BFSR Groups: The goal for the regional groups is to create a network of BFSR SIGs in affiliated chapters of ABAI. To date, two affiliated state chapters of the BFSR SIG have been formed (TxABA in 2016 and KansABA in 2017). Another state level chapter (Alabama or ALABA) and a non-US affiliated chapter (Brazil or ABPMZ) are in development.

In 2019, the TxABA BFSR SIG council proposed a new set of bylaws that shifted the leadership from the traditional council model to that of a Planners Board. The TxABA BFSR SIG Planners have focused discussions in the following areas: (1) developing opportunities for engaging community members and organizations in the TxABA conference (e.g., scholarship support for students and faculty at local universities, partnerships with local NGOs to introduce TxABA attendees in issues affecting the community, etc.), (2) increasing engagement with TxABA BFSR SIG members through blog posting, descriptions of member activities, and so on, and (3) to work with the program coordinator for the education and social issues tracks for the TxABA conference). In the upcoming year, one focus of the Regional BFSR groups will be to develop a stronger infrastructure that connects the regional BFSR groups with each other and the ABAI BFSR Planners.

  • Sustainability Group: In 2019, the Sustainability Group published an article in a special section on Cultural and Behavioral Systems Science in Perspectives on Behavior Science on how the Matrix Project has been used in the development of resources for behavior analysts interested in the area of sustainability. It also serves as a guide for how behavior analysts can become more involved in the area of sustainability in a variety of ways. The group is currently working on using the matrix analysis to identify feasible practices that state chapters could engage in to increase behavior analytic activity in the area of sustainability.
  • Community resilience Group: This working group was recently created in late 2020 and focuses on understanding how individuals as cultural collectivities respond and recover from systemic issues related to climate change such as hurricanes, fires, earthquakes, among others. The goal of this group is to develop measurement tools with a behavior systems orientation for assessing the practices involved in community resilience seen as adaptive outcomes. The group is currently collecting relevant literature from within and outside behavior analysis that discusses resilience as a concept.

BFSR will continue to work on the Matrix Project over the coming year, updating the activities and outcomes of active sectors and coordinating the activities of the less developed sectors. Those who want to get involved can contact BFSR at

Infrastructure Improvements
To ensure that the SIG continues to make progress toward the SIG’s mission, several infrastructure improvements were made in the last year. Since becoming an ABAI Associated SIG, BFSR has continued to develop infrastructure to provide members with valuable resources. The membership structure includes student members ($5), full members ($20), supporting members ($50), and sustaining members ($100). The SIG has also developed a process for getting volunteers involved with SIG activities (email if you are interested in volunteering). The SIG has been actively working on developing our website to house resources, disseminate information, and provide members with a way to connect with the SIG.

Volunteer Opportunities
BFSR has steadily received the help of hundreds of volunteers throughout the years and, in recent times, the influx of individuals applying to volunteer their time for our projects has increased. The trend observed in volunteer participation in this SIG is a representation of the increased interest of behavior analysts to seriously discuss how to participate in the solution of social issues. Given the increased interest in working with us, primarily in the development of the Matrix project outlined above, the BFSR planners created a role to coordinate volunteer participation. Currently, aspiring volunteers can reach the group via our webpage, and based on their interests and skills we provide one or more working groups within the Matrix where they may participate. Defining the main activities of volunteers and allocation of volunteer time within the Matrix are the current focus of the volunteer coordinator and will serve as a basis for the construction of tools to support volunteer actions within BFSR.

Social Media
BFSR remains active on various social media platforms; even more so now with so many people turning to social media as they are mostly in their homes due to COVID-19. BFSR continues to disseminate socially relevant articles, videos, and news stories to bring the impact of more abstract concepts to a relatable level. Important social events were also highlighted in ways that generated discussion among behavior scientists and connected like-minded practitioners and researchers.

ABAI Culturo-Behavior Science Conference
The BFSR Planners were heavily involved in planning for, presenting at, and participating in the first culturo-behavior science (CBS) conference sponsored by ABAI, “Culturo-Behavior Science for a Better World” held virtually in October 2020. Papers from the conference will be published as special section in the journal Behavior and Social Issues (with which BFSR is affiliated) in 2021.

ABAI Annual Convention
BFSR held our annual business meeting at the ABAI Annual Convention. BFSR was also represented at the convention through presentations and posters. In addition, BFSR held three networking opportunities (“side zooms”) where individuals interested in getting involved or learning more could network with the BFSR Planners to learn more about the SIG and opportunities for involvement. BFSR will be showcasing our activities through posters and a symposium at the 2021 Annual Convention.

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