Good Behavior Game (GBG)


(For resources, this is the publication date. For programs, this is the date posted.)


American Institutes for Research

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The Good Behavior Game (GBG) is a universal classroom-based behavior management strategy for elementary school that teachers use along with a school’s standard instructional curricula. GBG uses a classroom-wide game format with teams and rewards to socialize children to the role of student. It aims to reduce aggressive, disruptive classroom behavior, which is a shared risk factor for later problem behaviors, including adolescent and adult illicit drug abuse, alcohol abuse, cigarette smoking, antisocial personality disorder (ASPD), violent and criminal behavior, and suicidal thoughts and behaviors.

In GBG classrooms, the teacher assigns all children to teams, balanced with regard to gender; aggressive, disruptive behavior; and shy, socially-isolated behavior. Basic classroom rules of student behavior are posted and reviewed. When GBG is played, each team is rewarded if team members commit a total of four or fewer infractions of the classroom rules during game periods.

GBG is an “upstream” prevention program implemented by teachers in grade 1 and 2 classrooms. Outcomes have been measured over 15 years after school entry. One study found that GBG participants at ages 19 to 21 were significantly less likely to have experienced suicidal ideation compared to those in control classrooms, and mixed effects, depending on the model used, were found for suicide attempts (Wilcox et al., 2008). These positive results were not replicated in a subsequent cohort, although the authors note that the GBG was implemented with less precision in the second cohort.

Designation as a “Program with Evidence of Effectiveness”

SPRC designated this intervention as a “program with evidence of effectiveness” based on its inclusion in Blueprints for Healthy Youth Development, a registry of evidence-based positive youth development programs.

Evidence Rating for Overall Program: Promising*

Outcome(s) Reviewed (not individually rated)

  • Alcohol
  • Antisocial-aggressive Behavior
  • Illicit Drug Use
  • Internalizing
  • Mental Health – Other
  • Suicide/Suicidal Thoughts
  • Tobacco

Read more about this program’s evidence and ratings.


* Blueprints for Healthy Youth Development rates overall programs (not individual outcomes) as Promising, Model, or Model Plus. The evidence for the Good Behavior Game is rated as Promising. The evidence for each program is reviewed according to multiple criteria in the following categories: Evaluation Quality, Intervention Impact, Intervention Specificity, Dissemination Readiness, and Independent Replication. Promising programs meet the minimum standard of effectiveness, Model programs meet a higher standard, and Model Plus programs meet the Model Program criteria and one additional standard (independent replication). When considering programs, we recommend (a) assessing whether the specific outcomes achieved by the program are a fit for your needs; and (b) examining the strength of evidence for the program and your intended outcomes.

2012 NSSP Objectives Addressed: 

Objective 3.1: Promote effective programs and practices that increase protection from suicide risk.

Objective 5.2: Encourage community-based settings to implement effective programs and provide education that promote wellness and prevent suicide and related behaviors.