Motivating operations (MO) are determined by how valuable the reinforcer is. Essentially the MO is what controls the behavior, and the motivation can always change from moment to moment. What is valuable to you in the morning can change in the afternoon.


Motivating Example


Example: In the morning coffee is extremely valuable to you to stay awake but by the afternoon the value decreases, and you no longer want it.

Withholding the reinforcers can also strengthen the value of reinforcers, also referred to as deprivation.

Example: If your child is motivated by ice cream and you want them to eat carrots. You can follow your child’s motivation of ice cream by only making it contingent upon eating carrots (which keeps the ice cream in high value)


Avoid Decreasing The Value of The Reinforcer


Having too much access of something can essentially decrease the value of the reinforcer, also known as satiation.

Example: If your child loves ices cream and eats it all the time. If you want them to eat carrots and make eating carrots contingent upon ice cream, the value of the ice cream decreases, and it is no longer valuable since the child gets it all the time.

The Key Question To Ask Yourself


Knowing and understanding your child’s motivation is very important. There are key questions in asking yourself if a reinforcer is motivating to your child. Does your child care about the item/activity at all? Will your child do certain things to work for the item/activity?

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