Token Economy

Description of the Strategy

The token economy was initially developed by Nathan Azrin and Ted Ayllon in the 1960s to motivate mentally ill patients (e.g., schizophrenics) to perform prosocial behaviors. In the token economy, individuals are provided tokens consequent to performing behaviors that are targeted for improvement. Earned tokens may then be exchanged for various reinforcers, which are provided by individuals who maintain the economy (e.g., spouse, staff). Thus, token economies eliminate unnecessary time delays between performance of target behaviors and delivery of reinforcement.

There are several tasks that must be completed before a token economy can be implemented. First, problem behaviors must be identified by observing the patient in “real-world” settings, as well as from interviews with significant others, staff members, and ...

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