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Dr. Klapow Offers Formula for Personal Change at The Edge of Chaos

Psychologist Josh Klapow will deliver the next presentation in The Edge of Chaos Scholars lecture series at The University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB). 

Kaplow's lecture, called "The Business of Behavior Change: When Success Depends on Doing," is to be held in The Edge of Chaos events venue on campus today at 3 p.m., according to a UAB news release. 

Admission is free and the public is invited. 

His talk today "is about using the science of behavior change to... help make changes in people's lives in a more powerful and more efficient way," Klapow told AL.com in a telephone interview on Wednesday. 

"My plan is to help (attendees) understand the mechanics of behavioral change and give them a formula for making change," he said. 

A clinical psychologist by training, Klapow spent about 16 years at the UAB School Of Public Health and the last 6 years as the chief scientist for ChipRewards, a health management firm that helps companies use incentives to reduce their employees' health care costs. "My whole career has been focused on trying to get people to change their behavior," he said. 

Klapow will offer attendees a richer understanding of the concepts of rewards and punishments or, put another way, of "carrots and sticks," he said. 

"I will show you what these actually are in behavioral science terms and how to use them," he said. "I will show you that the word 'consequence' does not have to be a bad thing. And I am going to give you a formula for understanding what makes a behavior change. I will give you a recipe for what it takes to change a behavior." 

The lecture will also discuss advances in technology the last decade or so that can allow psychologists to help large populations -- not just individuals -- make positive lifestyle or behavioral changes, according to Klapow. 

These advances involve a greater ability on the part of psychologists and others to "to aggregate or synthesize large amounts of data and information about people and to apply quantitative or mathematical rules to that data," Klapow said.

Those rules can "drive or produce consequences -- read carrots and sticks," he said. 

"What we can do for the individual in terms of rewards and punishment, we can now do for the population," he said. 

One key goal of the lecture is to give attendees an understanding of the importance of the "science of behavior change" as something "that all of us should understand at some level," Klapow said. 

Klapow has written more than 100 articles, abstracts, and book chapters in the areas of behavioral medicine and health psychology, according to his web site.

He has also made more than 500 TV and radio appearances and been interviewed by many national magazines, including Self, Men's Health and Women's Day. 

The Edge of Chaos announced the creation of its Scholars Program in June and invited 26 UAB faculty members from a wide variety of disciplines to participate and offer lectures during the academic year.

The aim of the program is to bring together some of the finest minds at UAB to attack what the venue's web site calls the "wicked problems" that "plague communities" and are difficult to solve. 

"The only restriction placed on the scholars... is that the lecture not be boring," Edge of Chaos director David Hooks said in September.

The Edge of Chaos -- funded by the UAB School of Public Health -- is located on the fourth floor of Lister Hill Library at 1700 University Blvd.  

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