The Psychological Record

, Volume 64, Issue 4, pp 813–825 | Cite as

Toward an Analysis of Emotions as Products of Motivating Operations

  • Matthew LewonEmail author
  • Linda J. Hayes
Original Article


The study of motivation within behavior analysis has historically pertained to the investigation of organism-environment interactions that alter the efficacy of events as reinforcers or aversive stimuli. A number of authors have noted similarities between the motivational properties of events that are classified as motivating operations (MOs) and the sorts of events typically held to occasion emotions. We will propose that emotions may be most usefully conceptualized within the framework of the MO concept, and that conceptualizing emotions in this way may serve to stimulate research in this important area. In so doing, we will provide a history of the behavior analytic treatment of emotions and offer an account of emotions as products of MOs using several examples from the literature. We will conclude by suggesting several areas in which the present account may generate research.


Emotion Motivation Motivating operations Establishing operations 


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Copyright information

© Association of Behavior Analysis International 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Psychology, MS 296University of Nevada, RenoRenoUSA

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