Association for Behavior Analysis International

The Association for Behavior Analysis International® (ABAI) is a nonprofit membership organization with the mission to contribute to the well-being of society by developing, enhancing, and supporting the growth and vitality of the science of behavior analysis through research, education, and practice.


40th Annual Convention; Chicago, IL; 2014

Event Details

Previous Page


B. F. Skinner Lecture Series Paper Session #9
CE Offered: PSY/BACB

What's The Motivation?

Saturday, May 24, 2014
1:00 PM–1:50 PM
W180 (McCormick Place Convention Center)
Area: AAB; Domain: Service Delivery
Instruction Level: Basic
CE Instructor: Steve Martin, None
Chair: Susan G. Friedman (Utah State University)
STEVE MARTIN (Natural Encounters, Inc.)
Steve Martin has been a master falconer for more than 45 years, a parrot trainer for 50 years, and began his professional animal-training career when he set up the first-of-its-kind, free-flight, educational bird show at the San Diego Wild Animal Park in 1976. Since then, he has produced or consulted on educational bird shows at more than 80 facilities in 15 countries. In 1984, Mr. Martin began teaching the science of behavior change to animal keepers at zoos and aquariums to enhance the husbandry, medical care, and enrichment of exhibit animals. He has now served as an animal behavior consultant for more than 50 zoological facilities in more than 20 countries. He also has served as a core team member of the California Condor Recovery Team. Currently, he currently an instructor at the Association of Zoos and Aquariums' Animal Training School; an instructor at the Elephant Training and Management School in Hamburg, Germany; a trustee with the World Parrot Trust; and president of Natural Encounters, Inc. (NEI), a company of more than 30 professional animal trainers. He earned his certification as a professional bird trainer and continues to teach workshops for professional animal trainers at the NEI training facility in Florida.

In this presentation, the construct of motivation will be explored. A motivated animal is operationalized as one who engages in the training dialogue with quick response to discriminative stimuli. Historically, force and coercion were the tools used to motivate animals in zoological settings. Fortunately, those methods are being replaced with more positive approaches. But, even with the current groundswell of positive reinforcement training in zoos, much mythology and poor training practices surround the need to motivate animals. These include putting the blame on the animal, misrepresenting scientific principals, as well as lowering animals' weights to unacceptable levels. Mr. Martin's experience has shaped a training technology, based on antecedent arrangement and positive reinforcement that allows him to successfully work with highly empowered animals. This success depends on approaches such as sensitive reading of body language, high rates of reinforcement, and clear communication of criteria. With these approaches, welfare is increased as animals learn to use their behavior more effectively.

Target Audience:

Behavior analysts working with or interested in animals in any training or management capacity.

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the presentation, participants should be able to (1) Describe three skills in arranging the environment to make the target behavior easier for the animal to perform; (2)  List three ways to increase motivation in animals without reducing the animal's weight to unhealthy levels; (3) Observe and describe at least one antecedent stimulus or condition to account for poor animal performance so as not to place blame on the animal; and (4) Explain the effective use of conditional reinforcers in association with back-up reinforcers to reinforce desirable behavior.
Keyword(s): animal behavior, antecedent stimuli, motivation, training



Back to Top
Modifed by Eddie Soh