-Conditioned reinforcers, such as money, endure and can be accumulated until they are
exchanged for backup reinforcers, such as food or clothing.
-Conditioned reinforcers of the latter type are called tokens.
-a program in which a group of individuals can earn tokens for a variety of desirable
behaviours, and can exchange tokens earned for backup reinforcers, is called token
-There are two major advantages of using a token economy:
1) They can be given immediately after a desirable behavior occurs and cashed in
at a later time for a backup reinforcer. Thus they can be used to “bridge” long
delays between the target response and a backup reinforcer, which is especially
important when it is impractical or impossible to deliver the backup reinforcer
immediately after the behavior.
2) Tokens that are paired with many different backup reinforcers are generalized
conditioned reinforcers and therefore do not depend on a specific motivating operation
for their strength. This makes it easier to administer consistent and effective reinforcers
when dealing with a group of individuals who may be in different motivational states.
Deciding on the Target Behaviors
- The target behaviour will be determined largely by the type of invidicuals
with whom you are working, by the short rang and long range objectives you
wish to accomplish with those individuals, and by specific behavioral
problems you are encountering that interfere with the realization of those
- Example! if you are the teacher for a bunch of grade 1 students, your
objectives will likely including teaching reading, writing, counting, math, etc.
Your target behaviours will include those that are involved in these skills or
are prerequisite to them, and they must be defined clearly enough so that the
student know what behaviours are expected of them and so that you can
reinforcer those behaviors reliably when they occur. Hus at least one of your
target behaviors might be “sitting quietly” when the teacher gives out
- The more homogeneous the group with which you are dealing with, the easier
it is to standardize the rules concerning with specific responses will be
reinforced with what specific number of tokens.
- Easier to have a group of individuals with roughly the same behavioral level.
-Baseline behaviors should be obtained before initiating a token economy. After the
program has been started, comparing the data with the baseline data will enable you to
determine the effectiveness of the program.
-After establishing what your backup reinforcers are going to be and how you are going
to obtain them, you should next consider the general method of dispensing them.
! a store or commissary is an essential feature of most token economies.