Association for Behavior Analysis International

The Association for Behavior Analysis International® (ABAI) is a nonprofit membership organization with the mission to contribute to the well-being of society by developing, enhancing, and supporting the growth and vitality of the science of behavior analysis through research, education, and practice.


45th Annual Convention; Chicago, IL; 2019

Event Details

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Symposium #207
Empirical Evaluations of the Reinforcing Efficacy of Tokens
Sunday, May 26, 2019
9:00 AM–9:50 AM
Hyatt Regency West, Lobby Level, Crystal Ballroom C
Area: DDA/EAB; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Jonathan Seaver (The New England Center for Children)
Discussant: Christopher Bullock (Francis Marion University)
Abstract: Token economies are widely used in behavior-analytic interventions (Hackenberg, 2018), yet we still have much to learn about how these economies work, especially in applied settings. This symposium includes 2 presentations on the reinforcing efficacy of tokens for participants diagnosed with developmental disabilities in a school setting. In the first study, a progressive ratio reinforcer assessment was used to evaluate the effectiveness of tokens and a concurrent-chains arrangement was used to determine preference for token economies. This study evaluated the exchange rate currently being employed in the applied setting. The second study systematically examined the reinforcing value of tokens across different token exchange rates. Together, these papers contribute to the research on token economies by providing an efficient method for evaluating token efficacy (Study 1) and for evaluating effectiveness of tokens across exchange rates (Study 2). Both studies evaluated preference for token economies with the participants. Implications of the findings of each study will be discussed
Instruction Level: Intermediate
Assessing the Reinforcing Value of and Preference for Tokens
CAITLIN HEER (The New England Center for Children; Western New England University), Allen J. Karsina (New England Center for Children; Western New England University)
Abstract: We evaluated the efficacy of tokens as conditioned reinforcers for 6 participants who attended a school for children with developmental disabilities. We conducted progressive ratio reinforcer assessments across 4 conditions (paired token, unpaired token, primary reinforcement, and control) to assess the effectiveness of tokens exchanged for primary reinforcers, tokens alone, and primary reinforcers. Additionally, for 4 participants, a concurrent-chains preference assessment was conducted to determine if tokens exchanged from primary reinforcers were preferred over primary reinforcers. The results varied across participants, showing that each individual’s token system should be evaluated to determine their effectiveness. While results were idiosyncratic, we were able to conclude that tokens exchanged for primary reinforcers functioned as reinforcers for 3 of 6 participants, and 2 of 5 participants showed a preference for tokens exchanged for primary reinforcers over primary reinforcers alone. IOA was collected during 35.3% of sessions with a mean total IOA of 97.7% (range, 92 -100%).

Exchange Schedules Affect the Reinforcing Efficacy of Tokens

BRENNA MICHELE ANDERSON (The New England Center for Children; Western New England University), Jason C. Bourret (New England Center for Children; Western New England University)

Token economies are commonly used in behavior-analytic interventions, but the relation between the exchange ratio and reinforcing efficacy of a token is not known. The purpose of the current study was to compare the reinforcing efficacy of 2 different tokens, each associated with a different exchange value (e.g., 1:1 and 5:1). Three adolescent males diagnosed with autism participated. A high-preference edible was identified for each participant and was made exchangeable for tokens for the duration of the study. In the first phase of the study participants were exposed to the exchange schedules associated with each token. In the second phase of the study sessions were conducted in which participants could select which token they earned following completion of the target task on a fixed-ratio (FR) schedule. For one participant, differential selection of the token with the smaller exchange ratio (e.g., 1:1) was observed across all token choice conditions. For 2 participants, following modifications to the token choice conditions, differential selection of a full token board containing tokens associated with a smaller exchange ratio (e.g., 1:1) was observed across conditions. Interobserver agreement data were collected for 33% of sessions across participants with an average agreement of 96.79% (range 76-100%).




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