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Token Economies The Scooby Doo Classroom Development and Generalization of adaptive behaviors through contrived reinforcement programs.

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Presentation on theme: "Token Economies The Scooby Doo Classroom Development and Generalization of adaptive behaviors through contrived reinforcement programs."— Presentation transcript:

1 Token Economies The Scooby Doo Classroom Development and Generalization of adaptive behaviors through contrived reinforcement programs

2 Advantages of Token Economies Immediate, unobtrusive delivery of reinforcers Allows for delay of reinforcement More and more frequent reinforcement can be delivered and for a longer time Ease of generalization Greater individuality of reinforcement Structures administrators attention and reduces subjectivity Allows for differential valuing of performance

3 Disadvantages of Token Economies Requires that goals be concrete and specific Can lead to dependency if weaning not done Requires a great deal of structure and organization by the administrator Can be costly if tangible reinforcers used May prevent or distract administrator from learning more appropriate strategies for controlling behavior May be easily abused Requires much time and attention

4 When to Use Token Economies WHEN ALL ELSE FAILS: Other, less intrusive, strategies have been tried and found not to work When behavior problems are severe and require a highly structured, consistent, predictable environment When clients cannot wait an extended time for rewards

5 Setting Up a Token Economy 1: Selecting Backup Reinforcers Select the least intrusive reinforcers you can get away with Select reinforcers that are interesting to the clients Have a variety of reinforcers available Include occasional bonus or surprise reinforcers Periodically change the backup reinforcers to prevent satiation

6 Setting Up a Token Economy 2: Selecting Tokens: Characteristics They should be available in large amounts They should be durable They should be interesting and attractive They should be dispensible without intruding into or distracting from ongoing activities They should not be reproducible or available other than through the program They should be difficult to steal or extort from each other

7 Setting Up a Token Economy 3: Types of Tokens to Consider Tangibles (e.g., buttons, poker chips, counters, washers, stars, paper clips, play money, marbles) 1. Preferably, use soft tokens if noise may be a problem 2. Use a receptacle to hold tokens Symbolic tokens (e.g., checkmarks, points, happy faces, stamps, stickers, etc.

8 Example of Token Economy System

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11 Setting Up a Token Economy 4: Setting Prices for Backup Reinforcers Use law of supply and demand Consider therapeutic value of the behavior Have a variety of prices Set prices before dispensing tokens Initially, set prices so that everyone has the opportunity to purchase backup reinforcers Let clients know in advance what the prices of the backup reinforcers will be After the first exchange or two, do not announce prices until exchange time Change prices after each exchange

12 Setting Up a Token Economy 5: Identifying Target Behaviors Target behaviors should be specific and precise Target behaviors should be observable and measurable Target behaviors should readily transfer to the real world

13 Setting Up token Economies 6: Establishing Rules Rules should be stated positively and emphasize productivity and achievement Rules should be understood and remembered by all clients in the program Keep the list of rules relatively short Allow clients to help in establishing the rules Incorporate procedures for changing rules and for arbitration of rule disputes

14 Setting Up a Token Economy 7: Keeping Records Program effectiveness is greatly enhanced by accurate and complete record keeping Continuous records should be kept concerning 1. The occurrence or nonoccurrence of target behaviors 2. The time and number of tokens delivered to each student 3. The time and frequency of token exchanges

15 Running the Token Economy 1: Getting Started Sampling the backup reinforcers 1. Demonstrate the reinforcers, allowing clients to sample them 2. Make the reinforcers appealing to the clients (sell them) Establishing the value of the tokens The 1st day, give each client a token for doing something appropriate immediately, explaining how to earn them and what they can be exchanged for

16 Running the Token Economy 2: Beginning the Program and Dispensing the Tokens Initially, dispense tokens often, gradually decreasing the no. after a few days Dispense tokens immediately and quickly Always mention the client’s name and the behavior that is being reinforced Dispense tokens quietly and unobtrusively so as not to focus attention on them Don’t mention tokens when dispensing

17 Running the Token Economy 3: Token Exchange Times Initially, have frequent exchanges Exchange times should become less and less frequent The next exchange time should be announced in advance Set a limit on how many tokens a client may accumulate or carry over from one exchange time to another, perhaps by losing all unspent tokens

18 Phasing Out the Token Economy 1: Naturalizing the Program (Weaning) Introduce and gradually increase delays in the delivery of reinforcement Make dispensing of tokens increasingly random and intermittent Gradually switch from token reinforcement to more natural reinforcers Make the tokens increasingly less valuable to the clients

19 Phasing Out the Token Economy 2: “Earning Off” the System Clients maintaining a specified standard of appropriate behavior should be allowed to get off the token system Clients earning a predetermined minimum no. of daily tokens should be given special bonus “earn off” points Clients need to be motivated to “earn off” 1. Give bonus prizes to “graduates” 2. Give graduates noncontingent access to backup reinforcers 3. Give graduates special privileges

20 Phasing Out the Token Economy 3: Transferring Control to Clients Control of the program can gradually be transferred to the clients Clients should be given increasingly greater responsibility for: 1. deciding which behaviors need changing 2. how many tokens it should earn 3. determining when the behavior occurs 4. dispensing the tokens upon completion of the target behaviors 5. exchanging tokens for the backup

21 Using Punishment in a Token Economy 1: Response Cost Remove a previously determined number of tokens or points for previously identified unacceptable behavior If a client resists, penalize additional points Include rule violations as part of the backup menu (must pay for misbehavior) Do not overpenalize or tokens may lose their value and client’s motivation to perform may be reduced Reserve penalties for the worst offenses

22 Using Punishment in Token Economy 2: Timeout Response cost is the preferred form of punishment Use timeout from token spending if response cost does not work in which a specific time period is designated when a student may not exchange earned tokens Use timeout from the opportunity to earn tokens

23 Problems in Token Economies I: Client-Related Problems Hassles, arguments, and complaints: clients may attempt to get unearned tokens or backup reinforcers for which they have insufficient tokens Hoarding (failure to exchange tokens) Counterfeiting, theft, and extortion which may result from insufficient monitoring of token administration Unresponsive clients

24 Fixing Problems in Token Economies 1: Hassles, Arguments, Complaints & Hoarding Avoid hassles, arguments, complaints, attempts at bargaining by ignoring them Ignore any mention of tokens except at exchange times If the problem persists, impose a penalty For hoarding, following token exchange, clients should lose all unspent tokens

25 Fixing Problems in Token Economies 2: Unresponsive Clients Do not require unresponsive clients to participate for about a week After about a week, prime them by giving them a “free” day in which noncontingent tokens are given which can be exchanged for backup reinforcers The next day, make it easy for them to earn tokens, gradually increasing requirements

26 Fixing Problems in Token Economies 3: Counterfeiting, Theft, and Extortion Individualize and customize the tokens so that they are identifiable as belonging to a particular client and cannot be reproduced Keep duplicate records of number of tokens earned by each client Punish these offenses with response cost or timeout

27 Problems in Token Economies II: Administrator-Related Problems Using tokens as bribes or threats which focus undue attention on the tokens and causes clients to become overly dependent on the tokens and develops a mercenary attitude on the part of clients Feeling sorry for clients who are short of tokens

28 Fixing Problems in Token Economies 4: Presenting Noncontingent Tokens Do not extend charity or loans as these destroy the contingent relationship between behavior and reinforcer If a client is continually short of tokens something is wrong with the program Too much may be expected of the client The client may be excessively ignored

29 Problems in Token Economies III: System-Related Problems Token inflation (gradual increase in prices of backup reinforcers) due to clients earning too many tokens (too lenient?) Token depression (gradual decrease in prices of back reinforcers) due to clients earning too few tokens (too strict?) Confusion possibly due to the program being too complex

30 Adjust contingencies so students are not earning too many or too few tokens by making contingencies stricter or more lenient, as appropriate Make sure that a reasonable number of tokens is being earned Confusion is to be expected initially but if the problem does not work itself out in a few days, institute a simpler program Fixing Problems in Token Economies 4: Token Inflation, Deflation, Confusion


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