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PAX Good Behavior Game Theory of Change

PAX GBG aims to and actually does—reduce, avert or prevent mental (cognitive), emotional, behavioral and related physical disorders as well as promote mental (cognitive), emotional, behavioral, and physical wellbeing—using previously proven building blocks required to bring about this long-term goal.  The proven building blocks are called evidence-based kernels, fundamental units of behavioral influence (Embry, 2004; Embry & Biglan, 2008). The previously proven building blocks operate at an individual or dyadic level (i.e., self, adult with child or child with child), small group level (e.g. classroom or afterschool), large-group (e.g., school, treatment system, or service program) and at a political unit level inclusive of mass media (e.g., city, county, state/province, or nation). An explicit model exists for designing and evaluating the development of efficacious strategies (Embry, Lipsey, Moore, & McCallum, 2013). The theoretical constructs synthesize multiple branches of brain, behavioral and biological sciences for purposeful evolution of futures (Biglan & Embry, 2013; Embry, 2002; Wilson, Hayes, Biglan, & Embry, 2014), with clear record of impact.  The theory of change embraces four domains of creating potent nurturing environments (Biglan, Flay, Embry, & Sandler, 2012): rich reinforcement of prosocial behaviors, limiting problematic behaviors, minimizing toxic influences, and increasing psychological flexibility. The theoretical approach is explicitly designed to fit into a public-health model as “behavioral vaccines” (Embry, 2011), which are repeated behaviors that reduce, prevent or protect against morbidity and mortality while increasing well being such as seatbelts or handwashing.


References Cited


Biglan, A., & Embry, D. D. (2013). A Framework for Intentional Cultural Change. Journal of Contextual Behavioral Science, 2(3-4).

Biglan, A., Flay, B. R., Embry, D. D., & Sandler, I. N. (2012). The critical role of nurturing environments for promoting human well-being. American Psychologist, 67(4), 257-271. doi: 10.1037/a0026796

Embry, D. D. (2002). Nurturing the genius of genes: The new frontier of education, therapy, and understanding of the brain. Brain & Mind, 3(1), 101-132.

Embry, D. D. (2004). Community-Based Prevention Using Simple, Low-Cost, Evidence-Based Kernels and Behavior Vaccines. Journal of Community Psychology, 32(5), 575.

Embry, D. D. (2011). Behavioral Vaccines and Evidence-Based Kernels: Nonpharmaceutical Approaches for the Prevention of Mental, Emotional, and Behavioral Disorders. Psychiatric Clinics of North America, 34(March), 1-34. doi: 10.1016/j.psc.2010.11.003

Embry, D. D., & Biglan, A. (2008). Evidence-Based Kernels: Fundamental Units of Behavioral Influence. Clinical Child & Family Psychology Review, 11(3), 75-113. doi: 10.1007/s10567-008-0036-x

Embry, D. D., Lipsey, M., Moore, K. A., & McCallum, D. F. (2013). Best Intentions are Not Enough: Techniques for Using Research and Data to Develop New Evidence-Informed Prevention Programs. Emphasizing Evidence-Based Programs for Children and Youth: An Examination of Policy Issues and Practice Dilemmas Across Federal Initiatives., 26. Retrieved from Research Brief website:

Wilson, D. S., Hayes, S. C., Biglan, A., & Embry, D. D. (2014). Evolving the Future: Toward a Science of Intentional Change. Brain and Behavioral Sciences, 37(4), 395-416.

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