Nelson Higher Education

Higher Education

Sniffy the Virtual Rat Pro, Version 3.0 (with CD-ROM), 3rd Edition

  • with CD-ROM
  • Tom Alloway
  • Greg Wilson
  • Jeff Graham
  • ISBN-10: 1111726256
  • ISBN-13: 9781111726256
  • 288 Pages | Paperback
  • Previous Editions: 2005, 2000
  • COPYRIGHT: 2012 Published
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About the Product

Bring the theories of learning to life using SNIFFY, THE VIRTUAL RAT! Instructors praise Sniffy, a realistic digital rat in an operant chamber (Skinner Box), for his ability to give students hands-on experience in setting up and conducting experiments that demonstrate the phenomena of classical and operant conditioning. Users begin by training Sniffy to press a bar to obtain food. Then they progress to more studies of more complex learning phenomena. Throughout each, a series of "Mind Windows" enables students to visualize how Sniffy's experiences in the chamber produce the psychological changes that their textbooks discuss in connection with learning. Available on a cross-platform CD-ROM, the Pro version of Sniffy includes fifty exercises that cover every major phenomena typically covered in a Psychology of Learning course. The CD-ROM comes with a Lab Manual that walks users through the steps necessary to set up classical and operant conditioning experiments that closely resemble the experiments discussed in learning texts. (Screen shots are included for both Macintosh and Windows users.) The manual also includes instructions on how to print or e-mail results so that Sniffy can become part of students' homework assignments and term papers.


  • Reorganized to match the sequence of most learning textbooks, Sniffy Pro now allows teachers to teach classical before operant conditioning. This makes it easier for teachers to assign laboratory exercises.

  • Students can now teach Sniffy to perform tricks, such as grooming his face or sitting up and begging. Students can teach Sniffy to perform the desired behavior more frequently in the presence of a light or a tone so that Sniffy performs the trick on cue.

  • A new "auto reinforcement" feature aids trick training. Students select the behavior they want reinforced, and a virtual "Lab Assistant" ensures that all occurrences of the target behavior are reinforced.

  • The program now incorporates a "Movement Monitor" that measures Sniffy's general activity and a "Movement Ratio" that indicates inhibition of movement (freezing) as a measure of classical conditioning. As in previous editions, once a user has trained Sniffy to press the bar, they can employ a "Suppression Ratio" as a measure of classical conditioning.

  • A simulation of the effects of punishment on extinction in operant conditioning is now included. This feature simulates several classic studies described in many learning books.

  • The Sniffy software generates a digital cumulative record, which will improve students' and professors' ability to export numeric data.

  • The manual includes clear, user-friendly printing instructions to enable users to print data and graphs.

  • Sniffy now includes a "pause" feature so the student can take a break and pick it up when they come back, rather than having to start over.

  • References and suggestions on how to use Sniffy Pro are included in the Instructor's Manuals that accompany many of our learning texts--Domjan's THE PRINCIPLES OF LEARNING AND BEHAVIOR, Fifth Edition; Lieberman's LEARNING AND MEMORY: AN INTEGRATIVE APPROACH; Chance's LEARNING AND BEHAVIOR, Fifth Edition; Powell, et al.'s LEARNING AND BEHAVIOR, Second Edition, as well as our introductory psychology texts. Many of these texts also include in-text references to Sniffy experiments to make it easy for students and professors to integrate Sniffy into their course.

  • Sniffy is a highly realistic, animated rat in a Skinner Box that manifests most of the major phenomena of both classical and operant conditioning. Sniffy can be trained to press a bar or perform a variety of other behaviors to obtain food reinforcement.

  • Students perform "classic" experiments that closely resemble those discussed in standard textbooks on the psychology of learning. Using Sniffy, students can perform exercises that demonstrate most the major phenomena of operant and classical conditioning. Detailed documentation and step-by-step instructions make the program accessible even to unsophisticated computer users.

  • Some classical conditioning phenomena simulated include: acquisition, extinction, spontaneous recovery, the effects of manipulating the intensity of the CS and US, compound conditioning, blocking, overshadowing, over-expectation, inhibitory conditioning, sensory preconditioning, higher-order/background conditioning, the nature of the classical-conditioning association (S-S or S-R), and CS and US pre-exposure effects.

  • Some operant conditioning phenomena simulated include: magazine training; shaping; extinction; spontaneous recovery; primary and secondary reinforcement; variable-interval, variable-ratio, fixed-interval, and fixed-ratio schedule effects; the partial-reinforcement effect; simple and complex stimulus-discrimination learning; stimulus generalization; and the effects of punishment on extinction.

  • The program outputs the response measures employed by research psychologists in a data form that can be printed and turned in for class assignments. A one-step process enables the user to copy the image of a Sniffy Pro data window and paste it into any word-processor document (such as MS Word). This feature makes it easy for students to incorporate Sniffy data in lab reports and term papers.

  • Sniffy Pro data can also be exported in a form that most spreadsheet and statistical-analysis programs can read. This feature enables advanced students to perform sophisticated data analyses and draw elaborate graphs. Sniffy Pro data files are cross-platform (may be used on either Windows or Macintosh systems).

  • The program's "Isolation" option allows users either to display Sniffy in his operant chamber where they can observe all his movements in real time, or to "isolate" Sniffy's Skinner Box inside a soundproof air-conditioned chamber where Sniffy is invisible. Isolating Sniffy greatly accelerates the speed in which the user's computer can execute experiments.

  • All exercises in the manual are illustrated with dialogue boxes and windows from the most recent versions of the Macintosh and Windows operating systems available at the time of Sniffy's publication.

About the Author

Tom Alloway

Tom Alloway was trained by Winifred Hill at Northwestern University and is an expert in animal behavior, specifically ants, as well as operant and classical conditioning. He's the former chair at UT-Mississauga.

Greg Wilson

Greg Wilson runs his own software company and created the first version of Sniffy over 10 years ago.

Jeff Graham

Jeff Graham was trained in cognitive psychology and neural network models of memory. He teaches the computer component of introductory psychology at University of Toronto at Mississauga with over 1500 students per year.

Table of Contents

Preface: Installing Sniffy Pro.
1. Introduction to Sniffy.
2. Introduction to Classical Conditioning.
3. Basic Phenomena of Classical Conditioning: Acquisition, Extinction, Spontaneous Recovery, and Stimulus Intensity Effects.
4. Compound Conditioning, Blocking, Overshadowing, and Overexpectation.
5. Inhibitory Conditioning.
6. Associative Structures in Classical Conditioning: Sensory Preconditioning and Higher-Order Conditioning.
7. The Nature of the Association in Classical Conditioning.
8. Habituation, Sensitization, Background Conditioning, and the CS and US Pre-Exposure Effects.
9. Introduction to Operant Conditioning.
10. Basic Operant Phenomena: Magazine Training, Shaping, Extinction, Spontaneous Recovery, and Secondary Reinforcement.
11. The Effects of Punishment on Response Elimination.
12. Schedules of Reinforcement.
13. Stimulus Discrimination and Stimulus Generalization.
14. Shaping Behaviors Other Than Bar Pressing.
Appendix: How to Manage Your Sniffy Files.

New to this edition

  • New--Behavior frequency recording. Record the frequency with which Sniffy performs each of his twenty-two behaviors. Users can see how training Sniffy to perform his "tricks" affects the frequencies with which he performs his behaviors, allowing for new observations of how maintaining Sniffy's operantly conditioned behaviors on different schedules of reinforcement affects the frequency of behaviors that are never reinforced.
  • Monitoring adjunctive behavior. Users can now demonstrate that reinforcing bar pressing on interval schedules of reinforcement produces "adjunctive behaviors," behaviors whose frequency is increased as a side effect of reinforcing another behavior on an interval schedule. When Sniffy's bar pressing is reinforced with food on an interval schedule, he drinks more often even though he is never reinforced for drinking (and he is not water deprived). Such increased drinking is called "schedule-induced polydipsia," and it is the form of adjunctive behavior that psychologists have studied most extensively with real rats.
  • Increased usability. New user features include a redesigned and improved classical conditioning dialog box, more expandable windows, ease of multiple test case generation, ability to control sound-proofing level, automated "Isolate" mode option, and improved data export. Students' reinforcement actions will also be marked on the cumulative recorder to help cut down on student copying.