The mode of action of Token Economy aims to increase the frequency of a patients desirable behaviours and decrease that of the undesirably behaviours. Tokens are used to dignify reinforcement and are used as part of a reinforcement schedule. Punishment is implemented by the withdrawal of tokens. There are six main steps:

1. the target behaviour is identified (reinforcement or punishment) 2. the nature of the token is identified 3. depending on how many tokens individual receive over the day, they will get a certain number of desired items.

 4. the exchange rate is determined (20 tokens for 1 chocolate bar) 5. the location and time of day in which the tokens are exchanged is determined.

Allyon and Azrin (1968), pioneered the Token Economy system, found that tokens were most effective when associated with behaviours already in a patients repertoires. O’Leary et al (1969) had no success witgh a behaviour modification programme byt found that a Token Economy system reduced disruptive behaviour in 5 out of 7 children studied.

 Token Economies are important because, even though the introduction of chemotherapy in the 1950s meant that mental patients could live in community settings, this transition to community living required more than symptom reduction; living skills also had to be improved. (Lecomte et al, 2000).

Token Reinforcement

Most studies do not indicate whether desirable behaviours continue when tokens stop or whether the learning that takes place is an institutional setting generalizes to other settings. Furthermore, there is the issue of cure. Behaviour may change, which helps an individual to conduct a more normal life, but the mental illness remains (Comer, 2002).

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The method is expensive and time consuming: maintaining it required intensive training and concentrated effort, whereas simpler behaviour modification techniques may be just as effective and easier. Finally there is the problem of establishing effective rewards. To be successful, these must be tailored to the individual. Like behaviour modification programmes, Token Economy is manipulative; Corrigan (1995) claimed that they are also abusive and humiliating. Withholding privileges and basic rights has been rules unethical by US courts (Emmelkamp, 1994).

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Example Of Token Economy. (2019, Dec 05). Retrieved from

Example Of Token Economy
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