An Evaluation of the Effectiveness of and Preference for Differential Reinforcement and Response Cost within Token Economies
Jowett, Erica Stephanie
University of Kansas
Applied Behavioral Science
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Several researchers have directly compared differential reinforcement and response cost within the context of token economies, and the results have varied. That is, some studies have shown equal effectiveness across procedures, whereas other studies have shown one procedure to be more effective than the other (e.g., Brent & Routh, 1978; Iwata & Bailey, 1974; Tanol et al., 2012). Therefore, it is possible that certain variables (e.g., experimental design, back-up reinforcers, or opportunities for net tokens) may influence the efficacy of the two procedures. In addition, only two studies have empirically evaluated preference for differential reinforcement and response cost within the context of token economies (e.g., Donaldson et al., 2014; Iwata & Bailey, 1974), and the authors found that preference varied among individuals. The purposes of the current study were to (a) replicate research comparing differential reinforcement and response cost within token economies, (b) evaluate preference for these procedures, and (c) evaluate whether varying the opportunity for net tokens influences the effectiveness of or preference for these procedures. Results showed that when the opportunity for net tokens was equal in Study 1 and 2, DRA and RC were similarly effective for increasing responding for the majority of participants. However, preference for these procedures was idiosyncratic. Results from Study 2 showed that when the opportunity for net tokens was unequal across DRA and RC, all participants engaged in similar increases in the level of responding. However, when DRA resulted in more opportunity for net tokens, all participants preferred DRA; whereas, when RC resulted in the opportunity for net tokens, preferences were idiosyncratic. Results are discussed with respect to implications and areas for future research.
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