College of Psychology: Faculty Articles

Title

Behavioral Momentum in the Treatment of Noncompliance

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

Summer 1988

Keywords

Behavioral Momentum; Compliance Latency; Excessive Task Duration; Noncompliance; High-Probability Command Sequence

Publication Title

Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis

ISSN

0021-8855

Volume

21

Issue/No.

2

Abstract

Behavioral momentum refers to the tendency for behavior to persist following a change in environmental conditions. The greater the rate of reinforcement, the greater the behavioral momentum. The intervention for noncompliance consisted of issuing a sequence of commands with which the subject was very likely to comply (i.e., high-probability commands) immediately prior to issuing a low-probability command. In each of five experiments, the high-probability command sequence resulted in a "momentum" of compliant responding that persisted when a low-probability request was issued. Results showed the antecedent high-probability command sequence increased compliance and decreased compliance latency and task duration. "Momentum-like" effects were shown to be distinct from experimenter attention and to depend on the contiguity between the high-probability command sequence and the low-probability command.

DOI

10.1901/jaba.1988.21-123