Behavior Analysis Under the Dome


There are nearly 330 million Americans in the United States today. In 2017, 131 million (39.8%) Americans were obese. 28 million (8.7%) had Type 2 diabetes. 523,050 (0.16%) died of cancer. 64 million (19.4%) reported using cigarettes, with 170 million (51.7%) reporting consumption of alcohol. Indeed, one well-known statistic is that the top five causes of death in the US are preventable, suggesting simple changes to the environment could have saved tens of thousands of alives. Behavior analysis has these solutions, and this blog intends to showcase novel ideas and applications each week.

Looking “under the dome” is a nod to an excellent ABA Newsletter piece by Dr.Patrick Friman (also see his piece in JABA on this topic); in that piece, Dr. Friman explains that 68% of the population is under the dome of the normal distribution (within 1 standard deviation of the mean), and that group has behavioral excesses and deficits, too. With 330 million Americans, over 224 million are under the dome. Those 224 million people have been relatively underrepresented in applied behavior analysis because our research tends to focus on those in the outlying tails of the distribution. The ends of the distribution need our help; these are individuals with complex needs or repertoires. This includes elite athletes, children with autism, gifted students, etc. These individuals comprise small proportions of the population — hence, they are in the tails of the distribution. For behavior analysis to achieve mainstream relevance, we ought to incorporate mainstream behavior problems, as well.

The mission of the Under the Dome blog is to provide an account of how behavior analysis has the answers to many of society’s biggest issues and everyday problems. Toward this end, we will include reviews of recent publications, summaries of relevant conferences/events, commentary on behavioral science in the media, and interviews with other behavior analysts interested in playing under the dome. Coming soon will be interviews with Dr. Matthew Normand (a researcher interested in obesity and health issues in children, as well as scientific dissemination of behavior analysis) and Dr. Mark Mattaini (President-elect of ABAI and Editor-in-Chief of the journal Behavior and Social Issues).

Assisting me (Derek Reed) with this blog are Brett Gelino (doctoral student) and Alix Fisk (undergraduate assistant) from my Applied Behavioral Economics Laboratory at the University of Kansas. We will also post guest commentary and look forward to incorporating other media into this blog.

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We’ll see you under the dome!