2018: Joshua Harsin

University of Kansas

Josh Harsin is a doctoral student in Dr. Derek Reed’s applied behavioral economics lab at the University of Kansas. His research interests lie in social justice issues, including racism, xenophobia, and equitable access to public and social goods, particularly as they relate to vulnerable and marginalized populations. Other areas of interest include global climate change, public health, and alcohol/drug use as it relates to risky decision-making.


Josh’s master’s thesis will examine the efficacy of behavioral skills training (BST) in training preschool teachers’ hiding and barricading responses in the event of an active shooter. Mass shootings have become an ever more prominent and common occurrence in the United States, and although the FBI, Department of Homeland Security, and Federal Emergency Management Agency all recommend the same three-point plan to respond—run, hide, fight—there is scant experimental evidence that this training effectively improves overt active shooter responding. Furthermore, the state of Kansas allows any individual age 21 or older to carry a concealed firearm without a permit/license, including on college campuses and in the preschool on the University of Kansas campus. Teachers at this preschool will be recruited to participate, rendering this experiment both ecologically and socially valid.


A secondary aim of this project is to investigate the comparative efficacy of first-person video, third-person video, and in-person modeling in training skills using BST. The project will contribute to the existing literature on BST as no published studies to date have examined the comparative effectiveness of these three modeling approaches. A multiple-baseline across-participants research design across three groups (i.e., first-person video model, third-person video model, and in-person model) will be used. The effectiveness of each approach will be assessed in terms of speed at which participants reach mastery and the time required by the experimenter to create the videos and model the skills in person. In addition, the project will represent the first effort to apply behavioral technology to train individuals to respond to an active shooter.


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