Token Economies: Concept Definition

Token economies contain four basic elements (Spiegler & Guevremont, 1998):

  1. The type of token.
  2. A list of backup reinforcers and the token cost of each.
  3. A list of appropriate and inappropriate behavior and the number of tokens awarded or lost for engaging in each.
  4. Specific procedures for operation of the token economy.

Rules for maximizing the success of token economies stem from these four basic elements. We obviously cannot do justice to the complexities of the many issues that arise when implementing a token economy in the vast variety of contexts mentioned earlier (see e.g., Kazdin, 1977). Nevertheless, there are some general guidelines that appear to apply across the board (Martin & Pear, 1998; Miltenberger, 1997; Sarafino, 1996; Spiegler & Guevremont, 1998).

  1. Selecting Tokens
  2. Administering Tokens
  3. Selecting Backup Reinforcers
  4. Administrating Backup Reinforcers
  5. The Price
  6. The Rules