Kernel Factsheet — Reinforcement Kernel

Public Posting of Feedback for Behavior Change


  • Education
  • Workplace
  • Community

Developmental Phases

  • Prenatal
  • Infancy and Toddlerhood
  • Early Childhood
  • Childhood
  • Early Adolescence

Related Constructs


Moderately low, but will require media leverage (but not necessarily purchased media).

How It Works

Daily or weekly (occasionally monthly) feedback on the target behaviors are posted publicly, with cheerleading and fanfare. Liberal use is made of recognition for desired performance and further challenges for better performances. The postings must be easily visible. The norm being amplified not the transgression is posted. Challenges are often offered for different groups to contribute more to the public change.

Using Public Posting to Get Things Going in Community Settings

Organizations like United Way often use public postings, as do other fund raisers.

Measuring Change

The units of change sought (i.e., donations, participation, uptake, etc.) are the dependent measures proximal effects.

Extended Recipe

Here are the basic steps for this evidence-based kernel:

  1. The behavior to in increase must be clearly defined and easy to understand.

  2. Actions required by target audience must be easily understood and tools available for change.

  3. The posting of percentages or raw numbers of units of change must be very visible to all.

  4. Updates of the change sin percentages or raw numbers must be frequent to rally the group or groups.

  5. Social marketing, testimonials, and perceived moral good must be associated with the effort—not just avoidance of a bad act.

  6. Celebrations, challenges and public commitments by esteemed persons facilitate the effects.

Performance and Impact

The immediate behaviors being sought are often instrumental to a bigger change, such as purchase or use of car seats predicts lower rates of infant and child injury and deaths. Increases academic achievement, community participation, and injury control. 1, 3, 2, 4, 5, 6



  1. Parsons, H.M. (1982). More on the Hawthorne effect.. The American Psychologist, 37, 856–857.  

  2. Jackson, N.C. & Mathews, R.M. (1995). Using public feedback to increase contributions to a multipurpose senior center.. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 28, 449–455.  

  3. Parsons, H.M. (1992). Hawthorne: An early OBM experiment.. Journal of Organizational Behavior Management, 12(1), 27.  

  4. Ragnarsson, R.S., & Bjorgvinsson, T. (1991). Effects of public posting on driving speed in Icelandic traffic.. Journal of Clin Child Fam Psychol Rev 123 Applied Behavior Analysis, 24, 53–58.  

  5. Van Houten, R., & Nau, P.A. (1981). A comparison of the effects of posted feedback and increased police surveillance on highway speeding.. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 14, 261–271.  

  6. Nicol, N., & Hantula, D.A. (2001). Decreasing delivery drivers’ departure times.. Journal of Organizational Behavior Management, 21, 105–116.