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Behavioral Momentum

  • By: Kristin Witteborg
  • In: Encyclopedia of School Psychology
  • Edited by: Steven W. Lee
  • Subject:School/Educational Psychology (general), School Psychology, Educational Psychology

Behavioral momentum is a technique used to increase a child's compliance with requests. To apply this technique, the child is first asked to complete multiple tasks that he or she would naturally agree to do. Then, the child is asked to perform a disagreeable task or a task that the child is less likely to complete. Once momentum is established with the agreeable requests, the child is more likely to comply with subsequent requests. For example, John refuses to comply when his teacher asks him to clean his desk. His teacher decides to use behavioral momentum to increase John's compliance. The teacher first determines three simple tasks that are agreeable to John. These tasks include handing out papers, feeding the class's goldfish, and erasing the ...

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