The effect of token reinforcement on moderate-to-vigorous physical activity exhibited by young children


Carolynn Kohn: 0000-0002-2156-4898

Document Type

Conference Presentation



Conference Title

Annual Convention of the Association for Behavior Analysis International


San Diego, CA

Conference Dates

May 24-28, 2018

Date of Presentation



The purpose of this study was to assess the effect of token reinforcement on moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) exhibited by four preschool-aged children, using a multiple-baseline across participants and combined reversal and multielement design. During baseline, no programmed consequences were provided for MVPA. During the contingent token (CT) condition, tokens were delivered contingent on MVPA. During the noncontingent token (NCT) condition, tokens were delivered according to a predetermined time-based schedule, yoked to the previous, corresponding CT session. For three participants, a reversal effect was observed; that is, the delivery of tokens contingent on MVPA increased and maintained higher levels of MVPA compared to baseline and NCT conditions. For one participant, an overall reduction to near zero levels of MVPA was observed across experimental conditions, beginning with the first NCT phase. The token economy procedure was used as a method to increase physical activity and served as an adaptation of the tangible condition. Results suggest that contingent token reinforcement can be an effective way to increase MVPA. Also, results from this study might inform future functional analyses of MVPA for children who do not respond to social positive contingencies in their initial assessment.

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