The Motivation Assessment Scale

FORMS

The Motivation Assessment Scale is an easy-to-use, research-based tool that determines the function of problem behaviors. These written forms are available in both English and Spanish.

SOFTWARE

MASSoftware Professional is the software-enhanced version of the MAS. Features include automated scoring, quick analysis of multiple scales, automatically generated tables & graphs, and more.

ONLINE APP

MASnet allows the practitioner to complete the MAS from any web browser, combining the convenience of MASSoftware with the accessibility of the web.

About the Motivation Assessment Scale

 

The Motivation Assessment Scale (MAS) is designed to help with a language impaired person’s problem behaviors. An understanding of a person’s motivations becomes a guide for interventions, such as restructuring the environment or teaching that person skills for fulfilling personal needs in a more effective and productive way. The emphasis is on understanding, respect, and helping a person successfully negotiate their environment.

Benefits of using the MAS:

  • Allows you to respond effectively to behavior

  • Quickly assesses motivation, i.e., the function of a problem behavior

  • Improves positive behavioral interventions

  • The MAS is research-based, tested, and validated

  • Can easily be administered in educational and institutional settings

  • Has been used by psychologists and teachers since 1988

​Why Motivation Assessment Scale Software?​​

 

For best results, the authors recommend administering several scales (to multiple raters and/or in multiple settings) to evaluate a single problem behavior. Software versions of the MAS provide quick professional assistance in combining and analyzing scale results, assistance in creating reports, a convenient way to store data, and other features.​

Copyright notice

 

The Motivation Assessment Scale and The Motivation Assessment Scale (MAS) Administration Guide copyright © 1992 by Monaco & Associates Incorporated. All Rights Reserved. Reproduction of these works in any form, including digital and electronic transmission, is a violation of United States copyright law and international agreements and is prohibited. If you wish to excerpt any portion of the material for your publication, contact us here.

The Functional Approach


"Despite all of our best efforts, a large number of people who have severe disabilities continue to display serious and disruptive behavior problems... All of us would prefer to use only positive treatments for these behavior problems... [M]ost people involved in this field today recommend that a functional analysis be carried out before any treatment. The idea behind the functional analysis is to see why the person is misbehaving... A teacher might give a student difficult class work for 5 minutes, easy work for 5 minutes, then difficult work for 5 minutes to see if the student was more disruptive during different types of tasks. Similarly, parents or evening staff could alternate nights of giving or withholding nighttime snacks to see if these treats are having an effect on problems around bedtime..."




Practical Problems


"Several problems come up when trying to discover why someone is misbehaving using a functional analysis... For example, as we just described, a teacher could change the difficulty of tasks to see if this changes a student’s behavior problem. But what if the student then hits another student when he is upset? What if he hurts himself? Is the information from such an assessment worth the risk of injury?
"Another problem...is knowing where to look... Unfortunately, in the past, little help has been available to assist in selecting among the infinite number of things that might be causing certain behavior problems."




The MAS


"We have developed the Motivation Assessment Scale (MAS) as an additional way to find out why people’s problem behaviors persist by assessing the influence of social attention, tangibles, escape, and sensory consequences on problem behavior. The MAS is a sixteen item questionnaire that assesses the functions or motivations of behavior problems. The sixteen items are organized into four categories of reinforcement (attention, tangible, escape, and sensory) described in the previous section. The MAS asks questions about the likelihood of a behavior problem occurring in a variety of situations (e.g., when presented with difficult tasks).
"In addition, using this scale does not involve making behavior problems worse, a feature that has obvious advantages. It is hoped that through the use of the MAS, people with severe behavior problems will have greater access to positive interventions."




Research on the MAS


"One question that is often asked when discussing the Motivation Assessment Scale has to do with its necessity. Would simply asking teachers, parents, or others if an individual’s problem behavior was maintained by attention, escape, tangibles, or sensory consequences yield the same information as a full administration of the scale? In order to answer this question, we asked the teachers in a previous study to rank the four classes of maintaining variables for their possible influence on the individuals’ self-injurious behaviors (Durand & Crimmins, 1988). We observed that these rankings did not correlate significantly with the teachers’ MAS scores. Therefore, although teachers could predict an individual’s self-injurious behavior through their answers on the Motivation Assessment Scale, their global ratings of controlling variables were not as accurate. Guessing why individuals may misbehave may be helpful in order to generate hypotheses, but it is always important to follow up your guesses with more formal assessments."





From the MAS Administration Guide: Why do we need the MAS?

 

The Functional Approach


"Despite all of our best efforts, a large number of people who have severe disabilities continue to display serious and disruptive behavior problems... All of us would prefer to use only positive treatments for these behavior problems... [M]ost people involved in this field today recommend that a functional analysis be carried out before any treatment. The idea behind the functional analysis is to see why the person is misbehaving... A teacher might give a student difficult class work for 5 minutes, easy work for 5 minutes, then difficult work for 5 minutes to see if the student was more disruptive during different types of tasks. Similarly, parents or evening staff could alternate nights of giving or withholding nighttime snacks to see if these treats are having an effect on problems around bedtime..."




Practical Problems


"Several problems come up when trying to discover why someone is misbehaving using a functional analysis... For example, as we just described, a teacher could change the difficulty of tasks to see if this changes a student’s behavior problem. But what if the student then hits another student when he is upset? What if he hurts himself? Is the information from such an assessment worth the risk of injury?
"Another problem...is knowing where to look... Unfortunately, in the past, little help has been available to assist in selecting among the infinite number of things that might be causing certain behavior problems."




The MAS


"We have developed the Motivation Assessment Scale (MAS) as an additional way to find out why people’s problem behaviors persist by assessing the influence of social attention, tangibles, escape, and sensory consequences on problem behavior. The MAS is a sixteen item questionnaire that assesses the functions or motivations of behavior problems. The sixteen items are organized into four categories of reinforcement (attention, tangible, escape, and sensory) described in the previous section. The MAS asks questions about the likelihood of a behavior problem occurring in a variety of situations (e.g., when presented with difficult tasks).
"In addition, using this scale does not involve making behavior problems worse, a feature that has obvious advantages. It is hoped that through the use of the MAS, people with severe behavior problems will have greater access to positive interventions."




Research on the MAS


"One question that is often asked when discussing the Motivation Assessment Scale has to do with its necessity. Would simply asking teachers, parents, or others if an individual’s problem behavior was maintained by attention, escape, tangibles, or sensory consequences yield the same information as a full administration of the scale? In order to answer this question, we asked the teachers in a previous study to rank the four classes of maintaining variables for their possible influence on the individuals’ self-injurious behaviors (Durand & Crimmins, 1988). We observed that these rankings did not correlate significantly with the teachers’ MAS scores. Therefore, although teachers could predict an individual’s self-injurious behavior through their answers on the Motivation Assessment Scale, their global ratings of controlling variables were not as accurate. Guessing why individuals may misbehave may be helpful in order to generate hypotheses, but it is always important to follow up your guesses with more formal assessments."





Frequently Asked Questions

 

V. Mark Durand, Ph.D.


Dr. Durand has more than 125 publications. He and his colleague developed a treatment for problem behaviors (functional communication training) that is used around the world. His books include textbooks on abnormal psychology that have been translated into 10 languages and used at more than 1,000 universities world-wide. His other books include the multiple national award winning Optimistic Parenting: Hope and Help for You and Your Challenging Child as well as Sleep Better! A Guide to Improving Sleep for Children with Special Needs. He was named a 2014 Princeton Lecture Series Fellow and received the 2015 Jacobson Award for Critical Thinking from the American Psychological Association (APA).




Daniel Crimmins, Ph.D.


Daniel Crimmins, PhD, serves as Director of the Center for Leadership in Disability and Professor of Public Health at Georgia State University. In this position, he oversees a range of academic, training, technical assistance, research, and model service programs that contribute to the independence, inclusion, and productivity of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities of all ages. Throughout his career, Dr. Crimmins has worked to improve the capacity of organizations and individuals to provide evidence-based behavioral and educational interventions for children and adults with neurodevelopmental disabilities. He is the lead developer of www.positivebehaviorvideos.org, a website that includes videos that describe the positive behavior supports process, a positive behavior supports planning tool, and interventions that can be used by teachers, child care providers, and parents.





About the Authors

 

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