University of Georgia

The Good Behavior Game

University of Georgia researcher Emilie Phillips Smith
Professor Emilie Phillips Smith is exploring how a game can act as a “behavioral vaccine” for children. (Photo by Cal Powell)

A fun game for elementary schoolers that encourages good behavior and actually works? Sign us up, say parents worldwide.

Researchers at UGA and Penn State University believe the Pax Good Behavior Game (or PaxGBG) may live up to its creator’s billing as a “behavioral vaccine.”

Over five years, Emilie Phillips Smith, head of the human development and family science department at the College of Family and Consumer Sciences, and her team studied the use of PaxGBG in 72 community-based after-school programs in urban, suburban and rural areas in Pennsylvania and Georgia.

During the game, teams of children must use their “inside voices,” remain on task and have no more than four outbursts to win. Winning teams can choose an energetic activity to perform for 30 seconds to a minute, like doing crazy dances.

“We knew from past research that the Good Behavior Game decreases hyperactivity,” Smith says. “Over the long term, that decreased hyperactivity is related to fewer mental health problems, less acting out, less delinquency and fewer problems.”

This brief appeared in the fall 2018 issue of  Research Magazine. The original press release is available at