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14 Apr 2012

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The Token Economy
This chapter describes a behavior modification program in which conditioned reinforcers are
used systematically to strengthen the desirable behaviors of individuals participating in
education or treatment programs
Rehabilitating Sammy
Sammy is a 14 years old, placed in a treatment program for juvenile offenders b/c she has
involved in vandalism, burglary and assault
Goal maintain desirable prosocial behaviors in the residents and to eliminate antisocial
behavior similar to those that had resulted in their placement
Each resident received a point for completing each behavior on a daily basis
The residents exchanged the points that they earned for privileges such as playing video games,
pinball or pool in the game room
These privileges could be obtained only for points earned for prosocial behavior
Points were taken away as a punisher for antisocial behavior exhibited by the residents
Point loss was a response cost procedure
Sammy progressed through the program, she engaged in more prosocial behavior on a daily
basis b/c these behavior resulted in points and praise from the counselors
Defining a Token Economy
Token Economy used with adolescents in a residential treatment program
Strengthen client’s desirable behavior that occur too infrequently and to decrease their
undesirable behaviors in a structured treatment environment or educational setting
Each point received by the adolescents for desirable behavior is a token something delivered
to a person immediately after a desirable behavior, accumulated by the person and later
exchanged for backup reinforcers
Token is paired with other reinforcers becomes a conditioned reinforcer
Following are essential components of a token economy:
1. The desirable target behaviors to be strengthened
2. The tokens to be used as conditioned reinforcers
3. The backup reinforcer to be exchanged for the tokens
4. A reinforcement schedule for token delivery
5. The rate at which tokens are exchanged for the backup reinforcers
6. A time and place for exchanging tokens for backup reinforcers
Implementing a Token Economy
After deciding to use a token economy to strengthen desirable behaviors of clients in a treatment
program you must plan the components of the token economy carefully to ensure the success of
the program
Defining the Target Behaviors
Identify and define the desirable behaviors that will be reinforced in the program
E.g. Sammy’s target behaviors were prosocial behaviors
Target behaviors might included academic skills in an educational setting, vocational
skills in a residential setting
Define the target behavior carefully
Objective behavioral definitions of the target behavior ensure that the clients know the
behaviors are expected of them
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