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.


46th Annual Convention; Washington DC; 2020

Event Details

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Symposium #195
Current Research in Token Reinforcement
Sunday, May 24, 2020
8:00 AM–8:50 AM
Marriott Marquis, Level M2, Marquis Ballroom 1/2
Area: EAB/PCH; Domain: Basic Research
Chair: Haily Traxler (Western Michigan University)

Tokens are an important tool in behavior therapy and have facilitated the conceptual development of operant relations. To that end, applied and basic researchers have a shared interest in determining the effects of tokens in a broad range of contexts. Thus, the translational potential of token-related research is especially high. This symposium will explore current research in token reinforcement and highlight its translational importance. Topics covered will include assessments of generalized and specific token reinforcement, the relevant forms of token reinforcement, and the effectiveness of reinforcers in open and closed economies. Together, these presentations will provide insights into effective use of tokens in applied situations, and offer future directions for the use of tokens in the ongoing conceptual development of behavior analysis.

Instruction Level: Intermediate
Keyword(s): behavioral economics, reinforcer value, token reinforcement
They Walk Like Ducks: Effects of Generalized Conditioned Stimuli in Humans
HAILY TRAXLER (Western Michigan University), Anthony DeFulio (Western Michigan University)
Abstract: Skinner (1953) stated that the effects of generalized conditioned reinforcers should maintain longer than specific conditioned reinforcers because their effects are not dependent on a particular motivating operation. Tokens easily model different levels of generality because tokens can be paired with one or more back-up reinforcers. In the current study, three types of tokens were assessed that could be exchanged for either salty snacks, food and drinks offered in a small marketplace, or money on a gift card. Token preferences were assessed using a Paired Stimulus preference assessment and a progressive ratio (PR) task (Experiment 1), and a demand analysis (Experiment 2). The results of the preference assessment and PR task support that as generality increases, the relative reinforcing value of different types of tokens also increases. Procedures for the demand analysis are still being conducted, but it is expected that demand for generalized tokens will be higher than for specific tokens, consistent with Experiment 1. These results demonstrate concordance between Paired Stimulus preference assessment and PR tasks in assessing value. Finally, the results support the use of a graded approach to assessing the value of token reinforcers.
An Assessment of Token Value and Effectiveness: Does Form Matter?
MARCELLA HANGEN (The University of Kansas), Ashley Romero (The University of Kansas), Halle Norris (The University of Kansas), Breanna R Roberts (The University of Kansas), Kathryn A Gorycki (The University of Kansas), Pamela L. Neidert (The University of Kansas)
Abstract: Token systems are a commonly used treatment procedure to increase desirable behavior and decrease undesirable behavior for a variety of different responses (Hackenberg, 2009). Token systems have been used with a variety of populations including, but not limited to, children diagnosed with various disabilities, prisoners, and school-aged children. Because token systems are commonly used in clinical settings, it is important to identify the reinforcing value of these systems to increase their effectiveness (Fiske et al., 2015). Currently, there is a paucity of research on the identification of variables impacting reinforcement efficacy (Hackenberg, 2018), which includes limited research evaluating the potential influence of token appearance or form. Therefore, the current study was designed to extend the work of Charlop-Christy and Haymes (1998) and Carnett et al. (2014) who evaluated the effects of perseverative-interest-related tokens on compliance and problem behavior in children with autism and found that perseverative-interest-related tokens were associated with decreases in problem behavior and increases in compliance. Specifically, we extend the literature by evaluating the efficacy of reinforcement schedule thinning with preferred tokens, neutral tokens, and no tokens compared to a baseline condition on levels of problem behavior, compliance, independent correct responses, and the rate of skill acquisition.
Evaluating the Effects of Open and Closed Economies on the Rate of Skill Acquisition
ANA MARIA MORENO PABON (University of Miami), Yanerys Leon (University of Miami), Jessica Gomez (Florida Institute of Technology)
Abstract: Previous research has demonstrated the effect of multiple parameters of reinforcement on the rate of skill acquisition (e.g., delay, schedule). One parameter that has been shown to be a particularly influential parameter is quality (Karsten & Carr, 2009). One factor that may influence the reinforcing efficacy of stimuli with roughly equal quality is the broader context in which those reinforcers are available. In behavioral economics, these differences are described as open and closed economies. In a closed economy, reinforcer access is only available through interaction with the experimental arrangement. In an open economy, consumption is not entirely dependent on within-session performance. In this study we evaluated the extent to which economy type influences the rate of skill acquisition during DTT. Preliminary results show that acquisition occurred at a faster rate in the closed economy condition relative to the open economy condition for one of two participants and roughly equal rates of acquisition across the two conditions for the second participant.



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