Token System / Token Savings | Behavioral Psychology

The Token System , also known as Token Saving System , is a very useful technique in Applied Behavior Analysis and is used to motivate the emission of desirable behaviors, absent in the subject’s repertoire or present in low frequency. Tokens, symbols or points are used as contingent reinforcements , that is, the reinforcement will only be released when the individual emits the desired behavior and, later, these tokens will be exchanged for more effective reinforcements.

According to Bandeira (1996) the advantages of the Token System are:

  • serve as a link between behavior that occurs in a moment and a reinforcement released later,
  • motivate the emission of appropriate behaviors to be exchanged later for more effective reinforcements and
  • it can be exchanged later for non-material reinforcements that would be impossible to apply immediately.

Applied behavior analysis: using the chip economy to improve performance

It is important to note that two research programs developed in the 1960s were extremely important for the development of Applied Behavior Analysis (AAC) in its most practical version. One of the programs was developed by Ayllon and Azrin who used the Token Economy System in institutionalized patients, in which the system served as a motivating factor in therapies and rehabilitation. The other program was the creation of a nucleus of applied research in Behavior Analysis at the University of Washington, developed by Bijou, Wolf and Bear. From that, in 1968, the Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis (JABA) was dedicated exclusively to the publication of articles on Applied Behavior Analysis.

In its first edition, an article of great importance was published in which the concept of Applied Behavior Analysis was defined. According to Baer, ​​Wolf and Risley (1968):

AAC is the process by which the principles of behavior are applied in a social environment and it is assessed whether it was the procedure used that produced the observed changes. Its objective is to search for variables that effectively improve target behaviors, that is, those socially relevant to the society in which the work is being performed. (Baer, ​​Wolf and Risley, 1968)

Examples of using the Token System

The Card System can be implemented in just one individual or also in a group, it can be used in prisons, schools, hospitals, among others. It should be noted that the application of the File System is not restricted to certain subjects, it can be used by anyone. Initially, it was imagined that this system should only be applied to people with some type of disorder or mental retardation, however, currently, the forms are not only used in treatment institutions, they are used to modify the behavior of anyone, whether healthy or not. It is also important to stress the success of using this system in children with Autism. In addition, it is possible to successfully use the chip economy technique inattention deficit hyperactivity disorder .

It can be emphasized that the Token System can provide the individual with an improvement in relations with his family, friends and with himself. From the moment that the improvement of his behavior is seen by the people around him, the subject will receive social reinforcements that end up encouraging him even more to maintain the desirable behavior, and may also contribute to a higher self-esteem of the individual.

From this we can mention the six functions of the Card System defined by Flag (1996):

  1. incentive effect,
  2. amplification of desirable behavior and feedback,
  3. coherence in adult educational attitudes,
  4. positivization of relationships,
  5. multiplication and homogeneity of positive and negative
  6. equitable exchange relationships.

In order for the Chip Saving System to be successfully implemented, a few steps are necessary. According to Bandeira (1996), 10 steps are required for the intervention procedure with the Card System . Are they:

  1. Anamnesis ,
  2. definition of objectives,
  3. definition of target behavior,
  4. choice of tokens,
  5. identification of reinforcers,
  6. definition of exchange criteria between tokens and reinforcers,
  7. generalization of the effects produced by extrinsic reinforcers to intrinsic reinforcers,
  8. evaluation of results,
  9. Behavioral engineering (environmental changes for emission of behavior)
  10. end of the program.

Therefore, we can conclude that the Card System is a very useful technique, which can be applied to anyone, therefore, it becomes a very effective procedure to be used in various environments, including the subject’s home, school, hospitals, prisons. , and other institutions. It is also noteworthy that this technique is very useful to model new behaviors in the subject, to increase the frequency of desirable behaviors and to decrease the frequency of undesirable behaviors present in the subject’s repertoire.

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