SPED 8013 | Chapter 16: Motivating Operations

Establishing Operations (EO)

  • Any environmental variable that:
    • Alters the effectiveness of some stimulus, object, or event as a reinforcer
    • Alters the current frequency of all behavior that has been reinforced by that stimulus, object or event
  • EO is a term commonly used in behavior analysis
  • Motivating Operation (MO)

Motivating Operations

  • A replacement for the term establishing operation, along with the terms:
    • Value altering effect
      • Alters the effectiveness of a stimulus as a reinforcer
    • Behavior altering effect
      • Alters the current frequency of a response that has been reinforced by that stimulus
  • Motivating operations can be:
    • Establishing Operations (increase reinforce effectiveness & frequency of behavior)
    • Abolishing Operations (decrease reinforce effectiveness & frequency of behavior)

Reinforcement vs. Punishment

  • Right now the majority of research related to motivating operations deals with reinforcement
  • However, it is likely that many of the same statements related to MOs and reinforcement will be extended to punishment

Additional Considerations

  • Direct and Indirect Effects
    • MOs may directly effect response frequency, or may effect strength of relevant discriminative stimuli or conditioned reinforcers
  • Not Just Frequency
    • MOs may influence magnitude, latency, relative frequency, duration, etc.
  • A Common Misunderstanding
    • Reinforcement does not have to be obtained for MOs to alter frequency. Value altering and behavior altering effects are considered as independent. An MO should evoke the relevant behavior even if it is not at first successful
  • Current vs. Future Behavior
    • Motivating operations alter CURRENT frequency, as opposed to FUTURE frequency

Motivating Operations & Discriminative Stimuli

  • Both alter the current frequency of a response, but for different reasons
    • MOs are related to the current value of a reinforcer
    • SDs are related to the current availability of a reinforcer

Unconditioned Motivating Operations (UMOs)

  • Value altering effects that are unlearned
    • Deprivation and Satiation UMOs
      • Food
      • Water
      • Sleep
      • Activity
      • Oxygen
    • Sexual Reinforcement
    • Temperature Changes
      • Too warm
      • Too cold
    • Painful Stimulation
  • Relevance of the MO to generality of effects
    • MO must be in effect in the future for behavior to occur in the future

Conditioned Motivating Operations (CMOs)

  • Motivating variables that function as a result of the organism’s learning history
    • Surrogate (CMO-S)
    • Reflexive (CMO-R)
    • Transitive (CMO-T)

Surrogate CMO (CMO-S)

  • A stimulus that has been paired with another MO
    • Stimuli that are paired with a UMO will become capable of the same value-altering and behavior-altering effects as that UMO
      • Seeing snow is paired with being cold (if you’re outside)
      • Seeing snow through a window may raise the value of removing coldness
        • And raise the likelihood of putting on a jacket
      • Even if you’re inside, and not contacting coldness (UMO)

Reflexive CMO (CMO-R)

  • A stimulus that has systematically preceded some form of worsening or improvement
    • Discriminated avoidance procedure
      • Warning stimulus before a shock
      • Removal of teacher
  • NOT an SD, because it fails the SD test:
    • A consequence must have followed the response in the presence of the stimulus, AND
    • The response must have occurred without the consequence in the absence of the stimulus

Transitive CMO (CMO-T)

  • A stimulus that alters the value of another stimulus
    • All UMOs also function as CMO-Ts for the stimuli that are conditioned reinforcers because of their relation to the relevant unconditioned reinforcer
      • A rat pulls a cord that turns on a buzzer; lever presses when the buzzer is on produce food
        • Food deprivation is a UMO related to food and lever pressing
        • And is also a CMO-T for the buzzer sound and cord pulling
      • A master electrician sees a Philips head screw in a light switch and asks her assistant for a philips head screwdriver
        • The sight of the philips head screw makes a philip head screwdriver more VALUABLE, and behavior that leads to having one (asking the assistant) more likely. It is a CMO-T
        • The screwdriver was always AVAILABLE; it only became more VALUABLE due to the screw being present
    • The importance of CMO-T for Language Training

General Implications of MOs

  • The three-term contingency cannot be fully understood or effectively used without a thorough understanding of motivating operations