Rewarding elementary schoolchildren for their use of safety belts

Health Psychol. 1986;5(3):185-96. doi: 10.1037//0278-6133.5.3.185.


This study reports on the application of reward procedures to elementary schoolchildren to increase their use of seat belts en route to two schools. Following strict rules for assessing buckle-up compliance, all passengers in a car had to be safely secured in order for the schoolchildren to receive rewards. Compliant children received paper slips as they arrived at schools, which were redeemable for stickers, bumper stickers, and coloring books. The slips were also used in weekly drawings for pizza dinners. The mean compliance rate for School 1 was 4.3% during baseline, 66.2% for the reward phase across 4 weeks, 60% for return to baseline, 17.2% for Follow-Up 1, and 8.5% for Follow-Up 2. For School 2, the mean percentage was 5.3% at baseline, 69.8% for the reward phase, 68.5% for return to baseline, 40.1% for Follow-Up 1, and 20% for Follow-Up 2. These results indicate that rewarding the schoolchildren increased their own seat-belt use as well as that of their adult drivers and other passengers. Decreases in usage were observed after the rewards were removed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cooperative Behavior
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Reward*
  • Seat Belts*