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.


33rd Annual Convention; San Diego, CA; 2007

Event Details

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Symposium #64
Token Research: Basic to Applied
Saturday, May 26, 2007
2:30 PM–3:50 PM
Madeleine CD
Area: EAB; Domain: Basic Research
Chair: Timothy D. Hackenberg (University of Florida)
Abstract: Token economies can be conceptualized as second-order schedules of reinforcement in which there are token production schedules and higher order token-exchange schedules. Token economies have been the subject of both basic and applied research. The studies presented in this symposium represent examples of each and a blend of the two.
A Brief Assessment of the Reinforcing Efficacy of Tokens.
CATHERINE MCSWEENEY (New England Center for Children), Jason C. Bourret (New England Center for Children), Stacie Bancroft (New England Center for Children)
Abstract: Token reinforcement systems are common in the clinical application of behavior analysis. In the present study, a brief assessment method is presented for evaluating the reinforcing efficacy of tokens currently in clinical use. The assessment was found to be effective in identifying cases in which tokens did and did not function as reinforcers. For participants for whome tokens did not function as reinforcers, a method of establishing their reinforcing efficacy was examined.
A Web-Based Therapeutic Workplace for the Study of Token Reinforcement in Humans.
KENNETH SILVERMAN (Johns Hopkins University), Michael Grabinski (Red 5 Group, LLC)
Abstract: This presentation will describe a technical innovation, a web-based therapeutic workplace application program, which can be used to implement and evaluate token reinforcement systems in humans. Originally developed for the treatment of drug addiction and chronic unemployment, the web-based therapeutic workplace is a model classroom or workplace that provides computer-based training programs to teach skills; arranges computerize work tasks (i.e., data entry); and electronically monitors and arranges reinforcement for a range of critical target behaviors. Participants work at individualized computer workstations where they can earn vouchers, which can be accumulated over time. The vouchers have monetary values and are exchangeable for goods and services. Voucher reinforcement can be arranged for punctuality, work hours, consistency of attendance, productivity, accuracy, and drug abstinence. The application program includes a checking account system and credit card system that allows staff to make purchases for participants in exchange for accumulated voucher earnings. Each participant’s earnings, expenditures, and account balances are continuously recorded and updated automatically and displayed to the participant and to staff. Data are stored in a central database, and are readily available for review in graphical or tabular format and for analysis. Many of the reinforcement contingency parameters can be manipulated easily by changing values in program fields. Data obtained on the use of voucher reinforcement within the web-based application program to promote drug abstinence, consistent attendance, punctuality, skill development, and work productivity will be described. Beyond its current application in the treatment of drug addiction, the web-based therapeutic workplace is available to researchers and clinicians and could be used to investigate basic issues in token or voucher reinforcement, as well as other issues in education and employment in a range of populations.
Will Work for Food (or Water): Generalized Reinforcement in a Token Economy with Pigeons.
ANTHONY DEFULIO (University of Florida), Christopher E. Bullock (University of Florida), Timothy D. Hackenberg (University of Florida)
Abstract: Token-accumulation procedures allow for manipulation of three critical components of a token economy: token production, exchange production, and exchange schedules. Such procedures allow for precise specifications of the conditions under which organisms will accumulate tokens (conditioned reinforcers) rather than immediately exchanging them for backup (primary) reinforcers. The present investigation builds upon previous token-accumulation experiments by arranging a token economy in which three types of tokens can be produced. Two of these are exchangeable for only one kind of backup reinforcer (food or water), and one type of token (the generalized reinforcer) is exchangeable for either food or water. With the original token-accumulation procedure as a starting point, experimental contingencies were altered in a series of steps toward the generalized token accumulation procedure. Once the training regimen was completed the token production schedule, exchange production schedule, and establishing operations were manipulated. Results indicate that the pigeons’ choices with respect to the type of token earned are a function of the price of the token and the establishing operations used with respect to the backup reinforcers. The extent to which pigeons accumulate tokens is predominantly controlled by the exchange-production schedule.
Establishing and Validating Generalized Conditioned Reinforcers.
AMANDA M. MAHONEY (New England Center for Children), Daniel Gould (New England Center for Children)
Abstract: Conditioned reinforcers are often used in applied settings, yet little systematic applied research on establishing conditioned reinforcers has been conducted. The purpose of the current study was to determine the number of primary reinforcers with which a token must be paired to establish the token as a generalized conditioned reinforcer. Three individuals with autism participated. Following reinforcer assessments with primary reinforcers, a token was repeatedly paired with a single primary reinforcer. A reinforcer assessment with the token was then conducted during conditions of controlled access versus satiation, in order to determine the token’s sensitivity to satiation with the backup reinforcer. Subsequently, the token was paired with a second primary reinforcer and reinforcer assessments were again conducted under conditions of controlled access versus satiation with one of the primary reinforcers. For two of three participants, tokens became insensitive to satiation with the backup reinforcer after the token had been paired with only two backup reinforcers. The third participant required token pairing with three primary reinforcers before insensitivity to satiation occurred. These results show that generalized conditioned reinforcers may be established with as few as two primary reinforcers.



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