Behavior Momentum

Also known as, High-Probability Command Sequence (HPCS) is an effective antecedent strategy that increases compliant behaviors.

Can be used for behavior compliance, the child is likely to follow directions because they are getting reinforced for easy behaviors. Reduces frustration levels, because students are having success on easy tasks, increasing the likelihood that they will try harder behaviors.

Video Demonstration Strategy

Credits: Hutchinson Schools, Hutchinson KS

How To Use

  1. Identify low-proability (low-p) behaviors.  Researchers typically identify low-p behaviors as complying with directives 50% or less.  Researchers conducted 10 trials per behavior (low-p and high-p) to determine this percentage.
  2. Identify high-probability (high-p) behaviors. Researchers typically identify high-p behaviors as complying with directives 80% or better.  Develop a list and vary the high-p requests given.  Avoid repeating identical high-p chains.
  3. Deliver 3-5 high-p requests rapidly just prior to administering a low-p request.
  4. Deliver verbal or gestural praise (thumbs up, waving hands in the air) for each response to a high-p request.
  5. Deliver the low-p request within 5 seconds of reinforcing a response to the last high-p request.  Delaying the low-p request (e.g., 20 second delay) can decrease the likelihood of compliance.
  6. The topography of high-p requests may need to be altered to be consistent with the student’s age and functioning level.
  7. Generalize behavior with other instructors.
  8. Program to fade out high-p requests slowly.  One study faded from 3 high-p’s to 1 high-p prior to delivering 1 low-p.
  9. Record data on the target low-p behavior to monitor progress.

When To Use

  • Prior to any difficult or low-probability behavior or task
  • To regain attention
  • To increase motivation

Video Resources:      


In working with a young student start with presenting three high-­p behaviors prior to one low-­p behavior. Teacher should be in close proximity to model and reinforce high-­p and low-­p behaviors.
1. “Clap hands”…(model if needed) “Wonderful clapping hands!”
2. “Touch nose”…. (model if needed) “Super job touching nose! Tickle attack!” Give tickles.
3. “High five”…(extend hand as a model) “Thanks buddy!”
4. “Sit down” (low-­p behavior), walk with student to desk, once seated, “You are sitting so nicely!”


Behavioral Momentum essentially means to build up momentum to what you really want the child to do, by giving them easy tasks or demands, that they are highly likely to do first before presenting them with more difficult tasks.  Instead of approaching the child with what you want them to do, you start with what they are most likely to want to do.


Belfiore, P. J., Basile, S. P., & Lee, D. L. (2008). Using a high probability command sequence to increase classroom compliance: The role of behavioral  momentum. Journal of Behavioral Education, 17, 160-­‐171.

Davis, C.A., Brady, M.P., Williams, R.E., & Hamiliton, R. (1992). Effects of high-­‐  probability requests on the acquisition and generalization of   responses in young children with behavior disorders. Journal of   Applied Behavior Analysis, 25, 905-­916.

 Mace, F. C., Hock, M. L., Lalli, J.S., West, B. J., Belfiore, P., Pinter, E., & Brown, D. K. (1988). Behavioral momentum in the treatment of noncompliance. Journal of  Applied Behavior Analysis, 21, 123-­‐141.

 Nevin, J. A., Mandell, C., & Atak, J. R. (1983). The analysis of behavioral momentum.Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior, 39, 49-­‐59.