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Keywords:

  • token economy;
  • teacher popularity;
  • behavioral contrast;
  • sociometric status

There is a common fear that the use of a token economy in one classroom might harm pupil performance in situations where the contingencies are not in effect. This study investigated potential contrast effects on measures of children's productivity and attitudes toward teachers. Six children with reading deficits participated. A multiple baseline design was used to assess the effects of a token economy which was systematically introduced across three teachers. Dependent measures included two rating forms of teacher popularity and work rate on a programmed reading series. The results indicated that the token system was effective in increasing the children's productivity and that no consistent behavioral contrast effects occurred. Furthermore, children's attitudes toward teachers did not appear to be influenced by the token economy until only one teacher was not delivering tokens. At this point, her popularity declined until she also delivered tokens. The token economy manipulation appeared to have a specific, desirable effect on the targeted behavior (i.e., work rate) and had minimal negative or positive “side effects” on teacher popularity.