Master's Theses



Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


This study examined the effects of a token economy program instituted on an open, adult, male ward of 29 mentally retarded residents at the Norton State Hospital in Norton, Kansas. The goals of the program were to reduce both specific inappropriate behaviors (ward rule violations) on the ward, and individualized inappropriate (target) behaviors. The contingencies and administration of the token program were rigidly defined so as to reduce ambiguity and consequent inconsistencies. Colored washers were used as secondary reinforcers, which were exchanged for a variety of privileges. The program focused on positive reinforcement but did employ a variety of response cost procedures including a token fine, confinement to the resident's room, o confinement to an unlocked unit for ten minute periods. The program was solely administered by the aides after initial training, and the author was used only as a consultant. The results indicate a marked reduction of violations of each of the 5 ward rules. Inappropriate target behaviors were also significantly reduced. Violations of ward rules continued to drop during the program. Only one resident did not respond to any part of the program. This resulted in an unusually low failure rate of 3.49%. A job performance measure was taken to assess the degree to which the token program would generalize to an off-ward job. Contrary to prediction, the program showed no significant influence on off-ward job performance. Possible explanations for this failure and suggestions for future program improvements were discussed.


Robert Markley

Date of Award

Summer 1976

Document Type

Thesis - campus only access


© 1976 Bernard H. Heath


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