The Analysis of Verbal Behavior

, Volume 29, Issue 1, pp 3–11 | Cite as

Jack Michael’s Motivation

  • Caio F. Miguel
Special Section on Motivating Operations and Verbal Behavior


Among many of Jack Michael’s contributions to the field of behavior analysis is his behavioral account of motivation. This paper focuses on the concept of motivating operation (MO) by outlining its development from Skinner’s (1938) notion of drive. Conceptually, Michael’s term helped us change our focus on how to study motivation by shifting its origins from the organism to the environment. Michael’s account also served to stimulate applied research and to better understand behavioral function in clinical practice.

Key words

drive establishing operations Jack Michael motivation motivating operations 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Azrin, N. H. (1970). Punishment of elicited aggression. Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior, 14, 7–10.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  2. Bourret, J., Vollmer, T. R., & Rapp, J. T. (2004). Evaluation of a vocal mand assessment and vocal mand training procedures. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 37, 129–144.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  3. Buss, D. M. (1995). Evolutionary psychology: A new paradigm for psychological science. Psychological Inquiry, 6, 1–30.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Call, N. A., Wacker, D. P., Ringdahl, J. E., & Boelter, E. W. (2005). Combined antecedent variables as motivating operations within functional analyses. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 38, 385–389.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  5. Calvin, J. S., Bicknell, E. A., & Sperling, D. S. (1953). Establishment of a conditioned drive based on the hunger drive. Journal of Comparative and Physiological Psychology, 46, 173–175.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. Carbone V. J., Morgenstern, B., Zecchin-Tirri, G., & Kolberg, L. (2007). The role of the reflexive conditioned motivating operation (CMO-R) during discrete trial instruction of children with autism. Journal of Early and Intensive Behavior Intervention, 4, 658–679.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Carter, K, & Seifert, C. M. (2013). Psychology. Burlington, MA: Jones & Bartlett Learning.Google Scholar
  8. Catania, A. C. (1979). Learning. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.Google Scholar
  9. Catania, A. C. (1993). Coming to terms with the establishing operations. The Behavior Analyst, 16, 219–224.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  10. Fragale, C. L., O’Reilly, M. F. Aguilar, J., Pierce, N., Lang, R., Sigafoos, J & Lancioni, G. (2012). The influence of motivating operations on generalization probes of specific mands by children with autism. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 45, 565–577.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  11. Hall, G., & Sundberg, M. L. (1987). Teaching mands by manipulating conditioned establishing operations. The Analysis of Verbal Behavior, 5, 41–53.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  12. Howlett, M. A., Sidener, T. M., Progar, P. R., & Sidener, D. W. (2011). Manipulation of motivating operations and use of a script-fading procedure to teach mands for location to children with language delays. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 44, 943–947.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  13. Hull, C. (1943). Principles of Behavior. New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts.Google Scholar
  14. Iwata, B. A., Smith, R. G., & Michael, J. L. (2000). Current research on the influence of establishing operations on behavior in applied settings. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 33, 411–418.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  15. Keller, F. S., & Schoenfeld, W. N. (1950). Principles of psychology. E. Norwalk: Appleton-Century-Crofts.Google Scholar
  16. Laraway, S., Snycerski, S., Michael, J., & Poling, A. (2003). Motivating operations and some terms to describe them: Some further refinements. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 36, 407–414.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  17. Laraway, S., Snycerski, S., Michael, J., & Poling, A. (2002). The abative effect: A new term to describe the action of antecedents that reduce operant responding. The Analysis of Verbal Behavior, 18, 101–104.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  18. Lechago, S. A., Carr, J. E., Grow, L. L., Love, J. R., & Almason, S. M. (2010). Mands for information generalize across establishing operations. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 43, 381–395.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  19. Lotfizadeh, A. D., Edwards, T. L., Redner, R., & Poling, A. (2012). Motivating operations affect stimulus control: A largely overlooked phenomenon in discrimination learning. The Behavior Analyst, 35, 89–100.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  20. Maslow, A. H. (1943). A theory of human motivation. Psychological Review, 50, 370–396.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Mazur, J. E. (1986). Learning and behavior. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.Google Scholar
  22. McGill, P. (1999). Establishing operations: Implications for the assessment, treatment, and prevention of problem behavior. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 32, 393–418.CrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  23. McDevitt, M. A., & Fantino, E. (1993). Establishing operations and the discriminative stimulus. The Behavior Analyst, 16, 225–227.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  24. McPherson, A. & Osborne, J. G. (1986). The emergence of establishing stimulus control. The Psychological Record, 36, 375–386.Google Scholar
  25. McPherson, A., & Osborne, J. G. (1988). Control of behavior by an establishing stimulus. Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior, 49, 213–227.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  26. Michael, J. (1982). Distinguishing between discriminative and motivating functions of stimuli. Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior, 37, 149–155.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  27. Michael, J. (1988). Establishing operations and the mand. The Analysis of Verbal Behavior, 6, 3–9.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  28. Michael, J. (1993). Establishing operations. The Behavior Analyst, 16, 191–206.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  29. Michael, J. (2000). Implications and refinements of the establishing operation concept. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 33, 401–410.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  30. Michael, J. (2004). Concepts and principles of behavior analysis (2nd ed.). Kalamazoo, MI: Association for Behavior Analysis International.Google Scholar
  31. Michael J. (2007). Motivating operations. In J. O. Cooper, T. E. Heron, W. L. Heward (Eds.). Applied behavior analysis (2nd ed.). pp. 374–391, NJ: Merrill Prentice Hall.Google Scholar
  32. Miguel, C. F. (2000). O conceito de operac¸a˜o estabelecedora na ana´lise do comporta-mento. Psicologia:Teoria e Pesquisa, 16, 259–268.Google Scholar
  33. Millenson, J. R. (1967). Principles of behavioral analysis. New York: Macmillan.Google Scholar
  34. Mineka, S. (1975). Some new perspectives on conditioned hunger. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Animal Behavior Processes, 104, 143–148.Google Scholar
  35. Pierce, D. W., & Cheney, C. D. (2008). Behavior analysis and learning (4th ed.). NY: Psychology Press.Google Scholar
  36. Petursdottir, A. I., Carr, J. E., & Michael, J. (2005). Emergence of mands and tacts of novel objects among preschool children. The Analysis of Verbal Behavior, 21, 59–74.PubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  37. Ravagnani, L. V. & Serio, T. M. P. (2006). Uma proposta de me´todo para estabelecer um est´ımulo auditivo como uma operac¸a˜o estabelecedora condicionada transitiva. Revista Brasileira de Terapia Compor-tamental e Cognitiva, 8, 126–144.Google Scholar
  38. Rosales, R., & Rehfeldt, R. A. (2007). Contriving transitive conditioned establishing operations to establish derived manding skills in adults with severe developmental disabilities. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 40, 105–121.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  39. Shillingsburg, M. A., & Valentino, A. L. (2011). Teaching a child with autism to mand for information using “how.” The Analysis of Verbal Behavior, 27, 179–184.PubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  40. Skinner, B. F. (1938). The behavior of organisms: An experimental analysis. New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts.Google Scholar
  41. Skinner, B. F. (1957). Verbal behavior. New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Sidman, M. (1954). The temporal distribution of avoidance responses. Journal of Comparative and Physiological Psychology, 47, 399–402.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  43. Smith, R. G., & Iwata, B. A. (1997). Antecedent influences on behavior disorders. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 30, 343–375.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  44. Sundberg, M. L. (1993). The application of establishing operations. The Behavior Analyst, 16, 211–214.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  45. Weiner, B. (1972). Theories of motivation: From mechanics to cognition. Oxford, UK: Markham.Google Scholar
  46. Wilder, D. A., & Carr, J. E. (1998). Recent advances in the modification of establishing operations to reduce aberrant behavior. Behavioral Interventions, 13, 43–59.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Association of Behavior Analysis International 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyCalifornia State University-SacramentoSacramentoUSA

Personalised recommendations