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Sniffy the Virtual Rat

Psych 210 Winter Lab Assignment

1) The Experiment
2) Operant Conditioning
3) The 5 Reinforcement Schedules well use
4) Steps to completing the assignment
5) Grade Determination

The Experiment
Train Sniffy using Operant Conditioning
using campus computer program

Using 5 different Reinforcement Schedules

Analyze results to determine how choice of reinforcement

schedule affects extinction
Ultimately asking:
How do different schedules of reinforcement
affect the persistence of a learned

Operant Conditioning
Increases the rate of a desired
behavior by reinforcing that
behavior when it occurs
In our case, we want Sniffy to
We will reinforce with food

See Chapter 5 (B.F. Skinner) in

your textbook

Operant Vs. Classical Conditioning

Operant (Type R):

Classical (Type S):

Emphasis is on the

Emphasis is on the

Use reward to increase

a response

Get a stimulus to elicit

a response not
normally paired with it

Schedules of Reinforcement2 Main Types:

Continuous Reinforcement

Partial Reinforcement

Rewarded every time

the desired behavior

Rewarded some times

when behavior occurs;
not every time

Every time Sniffy

presses the bar, he will
get a food pellet

e.g. Sniffy might press

the bar 5 times and
only get rewarded

PRF SchedulesTypes:
Reward happens after
a set number of

Reward happens around
a certain average number
of responses

Fixed Ratio

Variable Ratio



after a set amount of

time passes

after an average amount

of time passes

Fixed Interval

Variable Interval

Fixed Ratio (FR):

Set a specific number of responses
required for reward, e.g. 5
Sniffy will then get a food pellet after
he presses the bar 5 times

Real Life Example:

Salesperson having to
reach a quota to get

Fixed Interval (FI):

Set a certain number of seconds
to pass before reward is given,
e.g. 10 seconds

Sniffy will be rewarded on his first

bar-press after 10 seconds passes
Real Life Example:
Employees getting a Christmas
Bonus each year for hard work

Variable Ratio (VR):

Set an average number of responses
needed for reward, e.g. 5
Sniffy will get rewarded for about 5
bar-presses- maybe after 4, maybe
after 7, etc. It fluctuates around a
certain number.
Real Life Example:
VLT machines rewarding
randomly (video lottery

Variable Interval (VI):

Set a number of seconds that will
need to pass, on average, before
reward, e.g. 15 seconds

Sniffy will be rewarded when he

responds after about 15 secondsmaybe after 12 seconds, 14, 18, etc.
Real Life Example:
Pop quizzes in class that
happen about every
month or so

The Computer Program:

My Computer
Apps on Caesar (S: )
Sniffy Folder
Double-click Sniffy Icon

Completing the Assignment:

Step 1) Observe Sniffys behaviors
Step 2) Magazine Train Sniffy
Step 3) Train on CRF schedule

Step 4) Extinguish behavior

Step 5) Observe Spontaneous Recovery and Extinguish
Step 6) Train on FR schedule and Extinguish

Step 7) Train on FI schedule and Extinguish

Step 8) Train on VR schedule and Extinguish
Step 9) Train on VI schedule and Extinguish

Saving your Progress:

Saving properly is IMPORTANT for this lab!
THINK about what and how you are Saving each

Always save to your H: Drive

Manual tells you when to Save and when to Print
As you are progressing through one step, save
over the same file. So, throughout CRF training,
keep saving as CRF. Once done, do NOT
overwrite again.

Saving your Progress:

You should save and print these files as you go:
CRFext (documents Steps 1-5) *Print this*
FR (documents Step 6 Training)
FRext (documents Steps 6- Training and Extinction) *Print this*
FI, and then FIext (Step 7) -*Print this*
VR, and then VRext (Step 8) - *Print this*
VI and then VIext (Step 9) -*Print this*

You Submit:
Assignment is due the week of April 2nd
As you go through the Steps, your manual instructs
you to record certain observations

You will use these, and Ch. 5, to answer the

questions attached at end of manual
Submit these answers, typed and in APA format

Also, submit the Records you have Printed out as an

*See directions on this in Manual*

Grade Determination:
Questions: 5.5%
Printed Records: 2%
Participation: 5%

Total: 12.5%

Passing in the Lab:

There will be lab every week up until:
Mar. 26th- 30th: NO LABS
Work independently if you need to catch up

Apr. 2nd -6th: NO LABS

Pass in the assignment to the Annex
My office 114F, or the Drop Box in Main

Starting Today:
Read through your manual
Start on steps 1 and 2
Observe Sniffys behavior and get him Magazine
Before you leave, save your work as CRF

Use the drop-down arrow in the Save window to

save to your H: drive