How To Use Your Smartphone For Behavior Change

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By Todd A. Ward, PhD, BCBA-D

Founding Editor, bSci21.org

Smartphones.  Those gadgets we just can’t seem to live without, that create so much anxiety if they turn up missing or (worse) are damaged beyond repair, have a new use these days —  behavioral science research.   Roth, Vilargada, Wolfe, Bricker, and McDonell’s (2014) article in the Journal of Contextual Behavioral Science discusses how smartphones are at the forefront of a research methodology revolution.  They present many opportunities to scientific discovery as well as challenges.

Among the most important considerations when designing an app for research is engagement, or the ability to make things short, sweet, and to the point, yet collect data to answer important questions and change socially-significant behavior.  This means you have to think about the most important and potent elements in your research, and maximize their presence and ease of use in the constrained user environment of an app interface.  Specific examples of this approach has been seen in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, wherein lengthy in-person smoking cessation sessions have been successfully condensed down into the form of a rather successful app that produces comparable effects.

The Houston Chronicle also details several apps designed specifically for Board Certified Behavior Analysts, such as BehaviorTracker Pro which facilitates functional assessment, observation, and data collection in a variety of ways.

If you use apps in your practice, we would love for you to share your stories below, and be sure to subscribe to bSci21 via email to receive the latest articles directly to your inbox!

Todd A. Ward, PhD, BCBA-D is President of bSci21 Media, LLC, which owns bSci21.org and BAQuarterly.com.  Todd serves as an Associate Editor of the Journal of Organizational Behavior Management and as an editorial board member for Behavior and Social Issues.  He has worked as a behavior analyst in day centers, residential providers, homes, and schools, and served as the director of Behavior Analysis Online at the University of North Texas.  Todd’s areas of expertise include writing, entrepreneurship, Acceptance & Commitment Therapy, Instructional Design, Organizational Behavior Management, and ABA therapy. Todd can be reached at todd.ward@bsci21.org.

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