Behavioral Momentum Theory: A Tutorial on Response Persistence

Brian D. Greer, Wayne W. Fisher, Patrick W. Romani, Valdeep Saini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Behavioral momentum theory (BMT) provides an integrative framework for evaluating the strength of a response when it contacts a disruptor, such as the discontinuation of reinforcement (i.e., extinction). Grounded in Newtonian physics, BMT distinguishes response rate (behavioral velocity) from response strength or persistence (behavioral mass). Behavioral velocity is affected by response-reinforcer contingencies, whereas behavioral mass is affected by stimulus-reinforcer contingencies (Nevin and Wacker 2013). We describe the determiners of behavioral mass, as well as common sources of disruption that are used to measure behavioral mass. Learning activities are embedded throughout this discussion to help readers better understand BMT and its implications for practice across a range of contexts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)269-291
Number of pages23
JournalBehavior Analyst
Issue number2
StatePublished - Oct 1 2016


  • Behavioral mass
  • Behavioral momentum theory
  • Behavioral velocity
  • Response persistence
  • Resurgence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology


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