Noticing Tool

Whereas Tinbergen’s questions mostly help us explore the past causes and functions of an observed behavior, The Noticing Tool (sometimes called the ACT/Prosocial Matrix) helps us focus on our own experiences and behaviors in the present, and orient our behaviors towards valued living in the future.

The Noticing Tool (or ACT matrix or Prosocial Matrix, as it is a tool developed within Acceptance and Commitment Therapy and used in the  Prosocial approach) comes in several names and slightly different versions, and is used in many contexts. 

The video and presentation below introduce you to the Noticing Tool and are part of our teacher education module Human Behavior and Sustainable Development.

The videos below give you some more ideas about how to understand and use the Noticing Tool/ ACT Matrix.

This video explains one of the dimensions of the Prosocial Matrix – the Towards-Away dimension

The ACT Matrix has been used with and by both adults and children.

Using the Prosocial Matrix in the context of the COVID pandemic

Using the Prosocial Matrix in the context of the COVID pandemic and as a group


Atkins, P. W. B., Wilson, D. S., & Hayes, S. C. (2019). Prosocial. Using Evolutionary Science to Build Productive, Equitable, and Collaborative Groups. Context Press.

Polk, K. L., & Schoendorff, B. (2014). The ACT matrix: A new approach to building psychological flexibility across settings and populations. Context Press/New Harbinger Publications.

Tenaglia, P. (n.d.). The Matrix for Education Starter Manual. Developing Psychological Flexibility For Learners, Educators and Parents.