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A Preliminary Evaluation of a Token System with a Flexible Earning Requirement

  • Joseph H. Cihon
  • Julia L. Ferguson
  • Christine M. Milne
  • Justin B. Leaf
  • John McEachin
  • Ron Leaf
Research Article

Abstract

Token systems often involve a predetermined number of tokens required prior to exchange for a terminal reinforcer. The effectiveness of token systems implemented in this manner has been well documented within the literature; however, some have discussed the possibility of a fixed earning requirement creating a context in which the learner no longer emits the desired behavior once the terminal number is achieved. A possible alternative to a fixed earning requirement is selecting the earning requirement based upon learner responding and leaving the requirement unknown to the learner until the moment of exchange. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effectiveness of a token system with a flexible earning requirement to increase the frequency of comments during snack for 3 children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. The results of a nonconcurrent multiple-baseline design demonstrated the flexible token system was effective at increasing the rate of comments in addition to the cumulative number of novel comments.

Keywords

token system flexible shaping commenting autism 

Notes

Acknowledgments

The authors would like to thank Sara M. Weinkauf and Todd Streff for their thoughtful discussions during the presentation of this manuscript at the California Association for Behavior Analysis 36th Annual Western Regional Conference and the 2018 Association of Professional Behavior Analysts Conference.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The corresponding author declares on behalf of himself and his coauthors that there are no conflicts of interest.

Ethical approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Funding

No grants were received to fund this project.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

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Copyright information

© Association for Behavior Analysis International 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Autism Partnership FoundationSeal BeachUSA
  2. 2.The Institute for Behavioral StudiesEndicott CollegeBeverlyUSA

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