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Motivation Assessment Scale (MAS)

The Motivation Assessment Scale (MAS; Durand & Crimmins, 1988; 1992) is designed to help identify the motivation behind a target problem behavior.


The Motivation Assessment Scale consists of 16 items presented in a checklist/questionnaire format. MAS items describe specific situations, and the respondent rates how likely the target behavior is to occur. Items assist in identifying the function of a behavior based on four categories: sensory, escape, attention, and tangible.


Author (yr) Age Range (yrs) Method of Administration/Format Approx. Time to Administer Subscales
​Motivation Assessment Scale (MAS) Durand & Crimmins (1992)​ N/A

16-item checklist/questionnaire. Each question has six response options (0 = never, 1 = almost never, 2 = seldom, 3 = half the time, 4 = usually, 5 = almost always, and 6 = always). Results in hypothesis regarding behavior

10-15 min.

Sensory; Escape; Attention; Tangible

Availability: Monaco & Associates,


Author (yr) Sample Size Topic(s) Addressed Outcome
Cunningham & O’Neill (2000) 3 - Age Range: 3-5 (years) Concurrent validity


Author (yr) Sample Size Topic(s) Addressed Outcome
Joosten & Bundy (2008) 67 - Age Range: 5-18 (years) Construct validity

The purpose of this study was to assess if the MAS is a uni-dimensional measurement of motivation of stereotypic behaviors (opposed to a 4-factor measure). Participants were children with dual diagnoses of autism and intellectual disability or with intellectual disability only.

Using both Rasch and Principle Component analysis results failed to support the proposed uni-dimensional construct or the original 4-factor structure. While some motivators appear to form a uni-dimensional construct, sensory stimulation may represent a different construct.

Children with intellectual disability were more apt to be motivated by desire to gain a tangible item or attention.

Children with the dual diagnoses were more apt to have sensory stimulation or escape from task demand as a motivator for stereotypic and repetitive behavior.

Author (yr) Sample Size Topic(s) Addressed Outcome
Joosten et al. (2009) 74 - Age Range: 5-18 (years) N/A

The authors’ modified the Motivation Assessment Scale (MAS) (1988), dividing it into intrinsic and extrinsic measures and adding items to assess anxiety as an intrinsic motivator.

Rasch analysis of data revealed that the items formed two uni-dimensional scales. Anxiety was a more likely intrinsic motivator than sensory seeking for children with dual diagnoses; the reverse was true for children with intellectual disability only. Escape and gaining a tangible object were the most common extrinsic motivators for those with dual diagnoses and attention and escape for children with intellectual disability.

Author (yr) Sample Size Topic(s) Addressed Outcome
Virues-Ortega et al. (2011) 80 - Age Range: Primary caregivers of children of children ages 3.5–17.0 with autism Psychometric attributes of the cross-culturally adapted version of the MAS

Scaling assumptions, internal consistency (Cronbach alpha of 0.75), and factor structure were satisfactory other than for the Escape domain.

Caregivers' agreement for the primary function reached 73.9% and known group-validity hypotheses across behavior topographies were partially met.

The clinical appropriateness of the scale is discussed.

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