About the Science

Contextual Behavioral Science is a modern version of behavior analysis that proceeds from the assumption that all behavior has a functional relationship to its context. In a classroom, for example, student behaviors are influenced by contextual factors such as the furniture, the time of day, the teacher’s words, current events, relationships, and the students’ thoughts and feelings. Altering elements of a person’s context, whether that means moving the furniture or changing the way she thinks about school, can have profound effects on that person’s behavior.

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The ultimate goal in Contextual Behavioral Science is to help people notice the various elements of their context and then do what’s consistent with their values—not what’s easiest or most fun, not what makes them look cool or sound smart, and not what relieves them from unpleasant feelings like anxiousness, embarrassment, frustration, or boredom. Accepting unpleasant thoughts and feelings is a normal part of living in accordance with our values. That ability to choose, in any context, a meaningful life guided by values is what we mean by “empowerment.”

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© Lauren Porosoff and Jonathan Weinstein, 2019