Posted: December 1st, 2022

Motivating Operations Essay Example

Discussion: Motivating Operations Essay Example

A motivating operation is an environmental variable that “(a) alters (increases or decreases) the reinforcing or punishing effectiveness of some stimulus, object, or event; and (b) alters (increases or decreases) the current frequency of all behavior that has been reinforced or punished by that stimulus, object, or event (Cooper et al., 2020)”.  Put, motivating operations motivate a certain behavior and either encourage or stop you from acting a certain way.

“Conditioned motivating operations (CMOs) are the MOs that one learns to place a value.  These are otherwise neutral states that now have value because they have been paired with a UMO, another CMO or with reinforcement or punishment to learn the value of the given CMO (ABA Connect, 2020)” Discussion: Motivating Operations Essay Example.

One example of a CMO in my life would be having a job so that I can get a paycheck to pay my bills and other necessities, and non-necessities, as I see fit.  I had to learn, or be conditioned, that I need to have employment to have money to pay for things. This would not have been instinctual to me, such as drinking water to quench my thirst.  I had to learn that to have money and pay my way, I would need to be employed.

Another example of a CMO in my life would be washing, drying, and putting away my clothes so that I have clean, unwrinkled, ready to wear clothes.  I had to learn, or be conditioned, how to properly sort my clothes, lights, darks, delicates, etc. I had to learn how to use the washer and dryer and on what settings each needed to be on depending on the clothes being washed and dried.  I also had to learn which clothes didn’t go into the dryer and needed to be hung up to dry. And finally, I had to learn how to properly fold and hang my clothes and put them away.  This would not have been unconditioned in which no learning was required.  It would not have been instinctual (something I just knew how to do).  I had to be taught these actions in my past and I know that this is what I have to do to have clean clothes.


ABA Connect (2020, December 26). 3 conditioned motivating operations – CMOS. ABA Connect. Retrieved November 12, 2021, from

Cooper, J. O., Heron, T. E., & Heward, W. L. (2020). Applied behavior analysis (3rd ed.). Pearson Discussion: Motivating Operations Essay Example.

A motivating operation (MO) has two main functions: a) it alters the effectiveness of some stimulus as a reinforcer, and b) it alters the current frequency of all behavior reinforced by that stimulus. Motivating operations can be classified into two types: unconditioned motivating operations (UMOs) and conditioned motivating operations (CMOs).

For this Discussion, you will draw on your own experience, or the experience of others, to identify two examples of CMOs as related to human behavior and analyze why they are considered CMOs. 

To Prepare

  • Review the Learning Resources for this week, including the required weekly media programs, to understand motivating operations. Note: You need to review this week’s media before completing this Discussion.
  • Consider examples of conditioned motivating operations (CMOs) as related to human behavior.
  • Review the interactive media in the Learning Resources, “Motivational Influences on Behavior.”

By Day 4 of Week 11

Post two examples of CMOs as related to human behavior and explain why they are considered CMOs. These examples can be from your own experience with yourself or others.

For my examples of CMOs I am going to use my son. He sometimes exhibits aggressive behaviors at school, when this first started, we tried different reinforcers and punishments to lessen the occurrence of these behavior at school. He has a special tablet that he absolutely loves, so one day I decided to take it as a punishment for displaying aggressive behaviors and I didn’t get a bad report from his teacher the entire week I had it. Afterwhile, he started to catch on that if this happened again, he would lose privileges to his tablet. Although he still has his moments, they went from every day to once or twice a week.


My son does not always like to clean his room, sometimes he would leave fidget toys lying around along with clothes and shoes. The reinforcer of taking him to purchase a pop-it or out for ice cream in exchange for keeping his room clean for a week. Initially, it started rocky, but I used his brother as an example of what could happen if he kept his room clean for a week. By the third week, we were struggling to motivate him to keep his room clean. One week, his brother kept his room clean for a week, and I took him for ice cream without my son. This was the “ah-ha” moment that he realized what keeping his room clean could get him. It’s been a few months since he consistently keeps his room clean.

Read your colleagues’ postings.

Note: For this discussion, you are required to complete your initial post before you will be able to view and respond to your colleagues’ postings. Begin by clicking on the To Participate in this Discussion link, then select Create Thread to complete your initial post. Remember, once you click on Submit, you cannot delete or edit your own posts, and cannot post anonymously. Please check your post carefully before clicking on Submit!

By Day 6 of Week 11

Respond to at least two colleagues’ posts by expanding on each colleague’s explanation of how their examples represent conditioned motivating operations.

Be sure to support your posts and responses with specific references to behavior-analytic theory and research. In addition to the Learning Resources, search the Walden Library and/or the internet for peer-reviewed articles to support your posts and responses. Use proper APA format and citations, including those in the Learning Resources.

Return to this Discussion in a few days to read the responses to your initial posting. Note what you have learned and/or any insights you gained from your colleagues’ comments.

Motivating operations (MO) can be defined as “something that alters the effectiveness of some stimulus, object, or event of a reinforcer” (Walden University, LLC. 2021). There are establishing and abolishing operations that either increase or decrease the value of the reinforcer stimulus, respectively. Additionally, there are unconditioned motivating operations (UMO) and conditioned motivating operations (CMO). Unconditioned refers to unlearned, while conditioned means refers to the opposite, learned. In his lecture, Dr. Little used the example of putting a key in a door to unlock it. That is not something we as humans naturally know; we learn that a key fits in a lock to open it, making it conditioned. What makes it a motivational operation is that we have a desire to get to whatever is on the other side of the door.

The following are two examples of CMOs as they relate to human behavior. The first is as follows: I have a client I have established a good rapport with and with whom I have been able to decrease aggressive behaviors while in therapy significantly. However, he continues to exhibit aggressive behaviors with his mom. When I am present with this child, he is motivated to make good choices and will refrain from showing aggression. If I am present with him and his mom, he will also make better choices and exhibit minimal to no aggressive behaviors, as he would if he was just with mom.

The second example is as follows: When I decide to get a solid workout in first thing in the morning, I am motivated the rest of the day to make healthy eating choices as well. This is because if I have made an effort to get up early and work out, I want to optimize that effort by eating well the rest of the day so that my hard work will pay off even more and I can have better results overall.


Walden University, LLC. (2021). Motivating operations [Video]. Walden University Blackboard. Discussion: Motivating Operations Essay Example

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