Effects of Reinforcer Quality on Behavioral Momentum: Coordinated Applied and Basic Research

F. Charles Mace, Benjamin C. Mauro, Amy E. Boyajian, Tanya L. Eckert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

45 Scopus citations


The high-probability (high-p) instructional sequence has been an effective treatment for noncompliance. However, treatment failures have also been reported. We hypothesized that the efficacy of the high-p treatment may be improved by using higher quality reinforcers for compliance to high-p instructions. The resistance of compliance to change was tested by varying reinforcer quality in two applied studies and a basic laboratory experiment. Experiment 1 tested the hypothesis that an increase in reinforcer quality for high-p compliance will increase the effectiveness of the high-p treatment when it fails to increase compliance. Experiment 2 assessed the effects of reinforcer quality on resistance of compliance to change by presenting successive low-p requests following the high-p treatment. A basic laboratory study (Experiment 3) was conducted to further isolate the relation between reinforcer quality and behavioral momentum. Two different liquid reinforcers (sucrose and citric acid solutions) were presented in a two-component multiple variable-interval variable-interval schedule followed by a single extinction test session. Results of all three experiments showed a generally consistent relationship between reinforcer quality and behavioral momentum.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-20
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Applied Behavior Analysis
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 1997



  • Behavioral momentum
  • Compliance
  • High-p treatment
  • Integrated basic-applied research
  • Noncompliance
  • Reinforcer quality
  • Resistance to change

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Philosophy
  • Applied Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science

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