John Anthony Nevin

John Anthony Nevin (July 5, 1933 – September 23, 2018)[1] was an American psychologist who was a professor of psychology at the University of New Hampshire.

John A. (Tony) Nevin
Born(1933-07-05)July 5, 1933
DiedSeptember 23, 2018(2018-09-23) (aged 85)
Alma materYale University (BA)
Columbia University (PhD)
Known forBehavioral momentum
Scientific career
FieldsExperimental Psychology, Quantitative Analysis of Behavior, Behavior analysis
InstitutionsUniversity of New Hampshire, Columbia University, Swarthmore College
Doctoral advisorWilliam N. Schoenfeld
InfluencesB. F. Skinner, Richard Herrnstein, G. T. Fechner


Nevin was born July 5, 1933, in New York City. In 1954, he obtained a B.E. in Mechanical Engineering from Yale University. From 1954-1959, he served in the US Coast Guard. He obtained an M.A. at Columbia University in 1961, and then a Ph.D. in Psychology in 1963; William N. Schoenfeld was his dissertation advisor. From 1963 to 1968, he was Assistant Professor of Psychology at Swarthmore College. In 1968, he was appointed Associate Professor of Psychology at Columbia University, and promoted to professor in 1970. He moved to the University of New Hampshire as Professor of Psychology in 1972, retiring in 1995. He remained active as professor emeritus for over 20 years, authoring and co-authoring many articles with colleagues from around the world. In 2015, he published a retrospective summary of his professional work, behavioral momentum[2].


He is known primarily for the development of Behavioral Momentum Theory [3] following his 1974 article on resistance to change of pigeons' operant behavior.[4] He received research support from the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health throughout his career, most recently from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development for application of momentum-based approaches to the treatment of severe problem behavior, conducted in collaboration with Drs. William Ahearn, Iser DeLeon, William Dube, F. C. Mace, Timothy Shahan, and more recently, Dr. Tara Sheehan (Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior, 2016) of the Mailman Segall Center for Human Development at Nova Southeastern University. He has also worked with Dr. Michael Davison on application of signal-detection theory to the effects of reinforcement on conditional discrimination performance, culminating in a momentum-based theory of attending and remembering in conditional discrimination performance.[5]

He was Editor of the Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior (JEAB) from 1980 to 1984, and was a cofounder of the Society for the Quantitative Analysis of Behavior (SQAB).


In addition to being named Distinguished University Professor, University of New Hampshire, 1991; he has received: Basic Research Award, Division 25, American Psychological Association, 1999; Award for Impact of Science on Application, Society for the Advancement of Behavior Analysis, 2004; Don Hake Basic/Applied research Award, Division 25, American Psychological Association, 2004; Victor G. Laties Award for Lifetime Service, Society for the Experimental Analysis of Behavior, 2014.


  1. "John Anthony Nevin - The Martha's Vineyard Times". The Martha's Vineyard Times. 25 September 2018. Retrieved 1 October 2018.
  2. J.A. Nevin (2015) Behavioral Momentum: A Scientific Metaphor, Vineyard Haven, MA ISBN 978-1512297690
  3. Nevin, J.A. &; Grace, R.C. (2000). "Behavioral Momentum and the Law of Effect". Behavioral and Brain Sciences. 23: 73–130. doi:10.1017/s0140525x00002405.
  4. Nevin, John (1974). "Response strength in multiple schedules". Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior. 21: 389–408. doi:10.1901/jeab.1974.21-389. PMC 1333212.
  5. Nevin, John (2007). "A theory of attending, remembering, and reinforcement in delayed matching to sample". Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior. 88: 285–317. doi:10.1901/jeab.2007.88-285. PMC 1986439.
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