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.


32nd Annual Convention; Atlanta, GA; 2006

Event Details

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Symposium #297
Token Reinforcement Systems and the Continuum from Research to Application
Monday, May 29, 2006
9:00 AM–10:20 AM
Area: EAB; Domain: Basic Research
Chair: Timothy D. Hackenberg (University of Florida)
Abstract: Token reinforcement systems are among the oldest and most successful technologies to emerge from behavior analysis. Numerous studies have documented the therapeutic and educational benefits of token procedures across a wide range of settings and subject populations. Unlike most successful technologies in behavior analysis, however, the science and technology of token systems have developed largely in parallel, with little cross-fertilization of ideas and concepts. The present symposium is an initial step toward rectifying this problem, bringing together laboratory and applied research on token systems. Presentations by Jacobs & Clark and by Hackenberg et al. center on laboratory-based research with rats and pigeons, summarizing recent work on exchange-schedule effects. Tarbox et al. present data on token economies in a classroom setting with autistic children, showing systematic effects also attributable to exchange-schedule variables. Roll reviews recent research on voucher reinforcement, a type of token reinforcement system with demonstrated success in substance-abuse treatment programs. Together, these presentations highlight some promising developments in the analysis and application of token reinforcement systems.
Token Reinforcement and Progressive-Ratio Schedule Performance in Rats: Breakpoints Decrease as Token-Deposit Requirements Increase.
ERIC A. JACOBS (Southern Illinois University, Carbondale), Sean W. Clark (Southern Illinois University)
Abstract: Rats’ lever pressing was maintained by presentation of marbles exchangeable for sweetened condensed milk. Marbles were delivered according to a progressive ratio schedule that increased by 2 responses with each marble delivery. Sessions terminated when 15 min transpired without completing a ratio. The last ratio completed was deemed the “breakpoint.” Exchange periods were arranged by a random ratio schedule, wherein the probability of transitioning to an exchange period following a marble delivery was 0.50. During exchange periods, depositing marbles was reinforced according to a ratio schedule that required 1, 2, or 3 responses, depending upon condition. Progressive ratio breakpoints decreased linearly as a function of the number of marbles required per milk presentation.
Token Economies for Young Children with Autism: Manipulating Cost of and Delay to Reinforcement.
RACHEL S. F. TARBOX (Center for Autism and Related Disorders), Jonathan J. Tarbox (University of Nevada, Reno), Patrick M. Ghezzi (University of Nevada, Reno), Ginger R. Wilson (University of Nevada, Reno)
Abstract: Although the successful implementation of token economies across various populations has been repeatedly demonstrated, there are relatively few empirical studies on the effects of token reinforcement on the behavior of young children with autism. Moreover, although the effects of different parameters of token reinforcement have been investigated thoroughly, these parameters have not been systematically manipulated during discrete trials instruction with young children with autism. In the current investigation, a reversal design was used to evaluate parameters associated with the cost of the back-up reinforcer and the delay between the last token earned and the delivery of reinforcement during discrete trials instruction. The results extend and corroborate findings on token reinforcement reported in other applied settings and are also consistent with findings from basic research on conditioned reinforcement.
Token-Reinforcement Schedules in Contingency Management Interventions for the Treatment of Substance-Use Disorders.
JOHN M. ROLL (Washington State University, Friends Research Institute)
Abstract: Contingency management-based interventions are arguably the most successful treatment modalities for many types of substance use disorders. This presentation will present data from a variety of laboratory, analog, and clinical studies examining the influence of the schedule with which token reinforcers (typically vouchers) are delivered for verifiable abstinence. Data suggests that to promote the greatest likelihood of initiating and maintaining abstinence during a treatment episode reinforcement should be delivered according to a schedule that programs increasing reinforcement magnitudes for consecutive instances of abstinence and incorporates a reset contingency such that failure to abstain results in a reset in the magnitude of available reinforcement. Other important aspects of the procedure, including an interaction between exchange delays and reinforcer magnitude, will also be discussed.
It’s the Exchange Schedule, Stupid! Exchange-Schedule Effects in Token-Reinforcement Research.
TIMOTHY D. HACKENBERG (University of Florida), Christopher E. Bullock (University of Florida), Anthony DeFulio (University of Florida), Rachelle L. Yankelevitz (University of Florida)
Abstract: In a typical token-reinforcement schedule, tokens can be earned according to one schedule (the token-production schedule) and exchanged for other reinforcers according to a second schedule (the exchange-production schedule). Prior research has shown that behavior is jointly controlled by both schedules, though most of the research has centered on exchange-schedule effects. In this presentation, we will review exchange-schedule effects in laboratory-based token-reinforcement research, including some recent work from our laboratory with schedules of token reinforcement with pigeons. In some experiments, the token-production and exchange-production schedules are arranged sequentially (as chained schedules) and in others are arranged in parallel (as concurrent schedules). In both types of experiments, response rates and patterns vary systematically with exchange schedules, suggesting that the tokens are indeed functioning as conditioned reinforcers. Some aspects of the results also support the notion that token-production response sequences can function as unitary responses reinforced according to a second-order exchange schedule.



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