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A token economy aims to increase the frequency of a subject’s desirable behaviors, and decrease the frequency of the undesirable behaviors. A form of tokens are used to signify reinforcement, and are then put onto a reinforcement schedule. The punishment is implemented by withdrawing tokens. In order to institute a token economy system, there are six main steps which must be followed:

First, the target behavior must be identified. By this, it is meant that the desirable behavior must be defined, as well as the undesirable behavior. The item which will be used as a token must also be identified and acquired. Many different types of items can be used as a token, it is necessary that the subject cannot counterfeit the token, and that it is simply a conditioned reinforcer, and not an unconditioned reinforcer. Ideas for tokens: poker chips, marbles, colored toothpicks, or beads that the subject strings on to a necklace and trades in for an unconditioned reinforcer at the end of the day.

Unconditioned reinforcers must also be identified. These are also known as the back-up reinforcers. Depending on how many tokens the subject acquires during the day, they will get a specified amount of back-up reinforcement. The back-up reinforcement can include consumable items, or occasionally even allow escape/avoidance behaviors. The schedule of reinforcement must be decided upon. Typically, in the beginning it is necessary to reinforce every instance of proper behavior. As the time progresses, variable ratio or even fixed ratio are often much more productive.

The exchange rate must be determined. Or in other words, different back-up reinforcers must be priced. Perhaps a jelly bean is only one token, however a chocolate bar is twenty tokens. The location and time of day in which the tokens are exchanged must also be determined. The end of the day is typically the best time, and any room will do as long as it is secluded to allow for privacy.

If required, undesirable behavior can cause tokens to be taken away. The above token economy system can be used with children in the household, or mentally limited people, also in hospitals, schools, and other locations. If used properly it is one of the most valuable psychological systems.
A token economy aims to increase the frequency of a subject’s desirable behaviors, and decrease the frequency of the undesirable behaviors. A form of tokens are used to signify reinforcement, and are then put onto a reinforcement schedule. The punishment is implemented by withdrawing tokens. In order to institute a token economy system, there are six main steps which must be followed:

First, the target behavior must be identified. By this, it is meant that the desirable behavior must be defined, as well as the undesirable behavior. The item which will be used as a token must also be identified and acquired. Many different types of items can be used as a token, it is necessary that the subject can not counterfeit the token, and that it is simply a conditioned reinforcer, and not an unconditioned reinforcer. Ideas for tokens: poker chips, marbles, colored toothpicks, or beads that the subject strings on to a necklace and trades in for an unconditioned reinforcer at the end of the day.

Unconditioned reinforcers must also be identified. These are also known as the back-up reinforcers. Depending on how many tokens the subject acquires during the day, they will get a specified amount of back-up reinforcement. The back-up reinforcement can include consumable items, or occasionally even allow escape/avoidance behaviors. The schedule of reinforcement must be decided upon. Typically, in the beginning it is necessary to reinforce every instance of proper behavior. As the time progresses, variable ratio or even fixed ratio are often much more productive.

The exchange rate must be determined. Or in other words, different back-up reinforcers must be priced. Perhaps a jelly bean is only one token, however a chocolate bar is twenty tokens. The location and time of day in which the tokens are exchanged must also be determined. The end of the day is typically the best time, and any room will do as long as it is secluded to allow for privacy.

If required, undesirable behavior can cause tokens to be taken away. The above token economy system can be used with children in the household, or mentally limited people, also in hospitals, schools, and other locations. If used properly it is one of the most valuable psychological systems.