The Analysis of Verbal Behavior

, Volume 29, Issue 1, pp 41–44 | Cite as

Comments on Michael (1993): Establishing Operations

  • J. Moore
Special Section on Motivating Operations and Verbal Behavior


The present comments concern Michael’s concept of motivative variables, and the implications of that concept for our understanding of the nature of reinforcement as well as the extinction of responses maintained through positive and negative reinforcement. We note that both extinction and altering motivative variables decrease responding, but they do so differently. The former does so by discontinuing the response-reinforcer relation. The latter does so by altering the motivation to respond. We emphasize that we shouldn’t conclude we have extinguished a response just because we have performed some operation that results in decreased responding. The difference is especially important for an understanding of how we might reduce maladaptive avoidance responses, such as found in phobias or obsessive-compulsive disorders.

Key words

motivative operations discriminative stimulus positive reinforcement negative reinforcement extinction 


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  3. Michael, J. (2003, Feb.). Motivative or establishing operations: An update. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Behavior Analysis Association of Michigan, Ypsilanti, MI.Google Scholar
  4. Moore, J. (2008). Conceptual foundations of radical behaviorism. Cornwall-on-Hudson, NY: Sloan.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Association of Behavior Analysis International 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. Moore
    • 1
  1. 1.Dept. of Psychology UW-MilwaukeeUniversity of Wisconsin-MilwaukeeMilwaukeeUSA

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