Boosting Fuel Economy with Behavior Analysis

Photo by averie woodard on Unsplash

Todd A. Ward, PhD, BCBA-D

bSci21Media, LLC

Brian Jadro of Simmons College published a preliminary study in Behavior and Social Issues which evaluated the effects of feedback and goal setting in an effort to increase drivers’ fuel economy.

Real-time feedback on Miles Per Gallon (MPG) was provided by the Scanguage-e device that easily plugs into most vehicles and can be mounted on the windshield.  Drivers were initially provided brief instructions on how to operate and calibrate the device, followed by a baseline phase.

During the baseline phase, the device recorded MPG but feedback was not given to the drivers as the device was hidden from view.  During the intervention phase, the device was in full view of the drivers such that they received real-time feedback as they were driving.  Drivers were also asked to set an improvement goal relative to their baseline performance.

Preliminary results indicate that two of the three drivers increased their fuel economy from between 11-18% of baseline.  However, the third driver showed no improvement.  Clearly more research is needed to more confidently evaluate the effectiveness of the device on the larger population, though initial results are encouraging.

To read more about this study, including the larger role that transportation plays in the production of greenhouse gasses, check out the full study.  Also be sure to subscribe to bSci21 via email to receive the latest articles directly to your inbox!

Todd A. Ward, PhD, BCBA-D is the President and Founder of bSci21Media, LLC, which owns the top behavior analytic media outlet in the world,  bSci21Media aims to disseminate behavior analysis to the world and to support ABA companies around the globe through the Behavioral Science in the 21st Century blog and its subsidiaries, bSciEntrepreneurial, bSciWebDesign, bSciWriting, and the ABA Outside the Box CEU series.  Dr. Ward received his PhD in behavior analysis from the University of Nevada, Reno under Dr. Ramona Houmanfar.  He has served as a Guest Associate Editor of the Journal of Organizational Behavior Management, and as an Editorial Board member of Behavior and Social Issues.  Dr. Ward has also provided ABA services to children and adults with various developmental disabilities in day centers, in-home, residential, and school settings, and previously served as Faculty Director of Behavior Analysis Online at the University of North Texas.  Dr. Ward is passionate about disseminating behavior analysis to the world and growing the field through entrepreneurship. Todd can be reached at

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1 Comment

  1. Thanks for taking the time to review my preliminary study. The results were promising for 2 of the 3 participants. Further investigation into these type of OBD2 plug-in devices is necessary if we are interested in shaping more fuel efficient driving behaviors. If anyone is interested in extending or replicating this study and would like to borrow the devices, I’d be happy to loan them out. Feel free to email me at with any question. Thanks!

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