Behavioral Momentum: Translational Research in Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities

UMMS Affiliation

Shriver Center

Publication Date


Document Type



Behavior; Reinforcement (Psychology); Translational Research; Developmental Disabilities


Mental and Social Health | Neuroscience and Neurobiology | Psychiatry and Psychology


Behavioral momentum theory (Nevin, 1992, Nevin and Grace, 2000) describes the relation between the characteristic level of reinforcement within a context and behavioral resistance to change within that context. This paper will describe the multiple-schedule-disrupter paradigm for basic behavioral momentum research and illustrate it with two representative examples from the literature with non-human subjects. The remainder of the paper will provide a review of translational research in human populations with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) employing the multiple-schedule-disrupter paradigm and closely related variations. The results of this research show that the reinforcer-rate effects predicted by behavioral momentum theory are widely replicated in IDD populations. The intended audience for this paper is the practitioner interested in learning about the current status of translational research in behavioral momentum as a foundation for considering ways in which behavioral momentum theory may be relevant to clinical issues.


Behav Anal Today. 2009 Sep 9;10(2):238-253.

Journal/Book/Conference Title

The behavior analyst today

Related Resources

Link to Article in PubMed

PubMed ID