Evidence-based kernels: fundamental units of behavioral influence

Clin Child Fam Psychol Rev. 2008 Sep;11(3):75-113. doi: 10.1007/s10567-008-0036-x.

Abstract

This paper describes evidence-based kernels, fundamental units of behavioral influence that appear to underlie effective prevention and treatment for children, adults, and families. A kernel is a behavior-influence procedure shown through experimental analysis to affect a specific behavior and that is indivisible in the sense that removing any of its components would render it inert. Existing evidence shows that a variety of kernels can influence behavior in context, and some evidence suggests that frequent use or sufficient use of some kernels may produce longer lasting behavioral shifts. The analysis of kernels could contribute to an empirically based theory of behavioral influence, augment existing prevention or treatment efforts, facilitate the dissemination of effective prevention and treatment practices, clarify the active ingredients in existing interventions, and contribute to efficiently developing interventions that are more effective. Kernels involve one or more of the following mechanisms of behavior influence: reinforcement, altering antecedents, changing verbal relational responding, or changing physiological states directly. The paper describes 52 of these kernels, and details practical, theoretical, and research implications, including calling for a national database of kernels that influence human behavior.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Health Behavior*
  • Health Promotion
  • Humans
  • Public Health*
  • Terminology as Topic*