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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 73201 Find in a Library
Title: Token Economics in the Residential Care of Delinquent Children
Journal: Community Home Schools Gazette  Volume:73  Issue:4  Dated:(July 1979)  Pages:158-166
Author(s): A A Merker
Date Published: 1979
Page Count: 9
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United Kingdom
Annotation: The paper reviews the research and application of the token economy system as a behavior modification treatment approach for pre-delinquent youth.
Abstract: The token economy features the use of reinforcement systems involving symbols that can be exchanged for more tangible rewards. There has been a rapid growth and development of token economy techniques in diverse treatment, rehabilitation, and educational settings. The use of tokens as a method for reinforcing behavior has a number of advantages: (1) tokens appear to be more potent than other generalized, conditioned reinforcers in monitoring higher levels of behavior; (2) token reinforcement may be used to immediately reinforce desired behavior with little disruption of that behavior; (3) the token may be backed up by a menu of different reinforcers; (4) the availability of a large number of reinforcers backing up the token reduces the probability of client satiation; and (5) the value of different reinforcers can be reflected by making their availability contingent upon the earning of a related number of tokens. For the token economy to be effective, it is necessary to specify target behaviors as concretely and elaborately as possible, to use a wide variety of backup reinforcers, and to establish a system of punishment or withdrawal of positive reinforcement. While a residential or institutional setting potentially a very favorable environment for the use of token economies, efforts must be taken to transfer learned target behaviors into the natural environment without reliance on the token. A highly successful treatment program that uses a token economy is that of Achievement Place in England, a community based and controlled group home for pre-delinquent boys. Other programs in the U.S. and Britain indicate the efficacy of token economy techniques in the treatment of delinquent children. However, massive funding, careful research, and highly trained staff are prerequisites. Forty-three references are included.
Index Term(s): Behavior modification; Great Britain/United Kingdom; Juvenile group houses; Token economies; United States of America
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