MCAT Social and Behavioral Sciences : Discrimination

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Example Questions

Example Question #1 : Discrimination

Which of the following is NOT an example of discrimination?

Possible Answers:

The doctor told the nurse not to schedule appointments with people if they could not speak English. The doctor instructed the nurse to tell such individuals that the practice was not accepting new patients. 

All new patients are asked to answer questions about smoking, drug, and alcohol use, as well as safe sex practices. 

There is no wheelchair ramp to enter the outpatient clinic, so patients in wheelchairs should be referred to other sites for their care.

The clinic decided to screen all Medicaid patients for chlamydia, but did not screen private-payer patients, because it seemed unecessarily expensive to screen everyone.

Because Chinese people were thought to be carrying the bubonic plague, entire blocks of Chinatown were quarantined. 

Correct answer:

All new patients are asked to answer questions about smoking, drug, and alcohol use, as well as safe sex practices. 

Explanation:

All of these are examples of discrimination, except for the answer choice that involves screening all patients. The questions may be uncomfortable, but because they are applied broadly to everyone in the practice, they are not considered disciminatory.

Discrimination is the practice of treating some people differently from others based on non-influencing or non-causal factors, and it is usually based on prejudice.

Screening only poor people for a sexually transmitted infection assumes that poor people are more likely to spread the disease, and that is discriminatory. Assuming that people who are Chinese, or associated with any other group, are causing or carrying disease, is also discrimination. Some diseases spread within close-knit communities, but there was no evidence that the accused did not regularly interact with people outside of the community, who may also have the disease. 

Refusing to see patients who require translation is a form of discrimination, since everyone has the right to access healthcare, and there are translators available. People in wheelchairs are different from people who are not in wheelchairs because in that they require a special ramp, but not with regards to their rights to access healthcare. To deny access to a group based on something they cannot control is discrimination.

Example Question #2 : Discrimination

Excerpt from "The Chicago Employment Agency and the Immigrant Worker," Grace Abbott, American Journal of Sociology 1908 14:3289-305 

In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, immigrants poured into the United States without knowledge of English or American customs. They were also usually unaware of the local cost of living or typical wage. These immigrants turned to employment agencies that would help them find work, for a fee. The extreme dependence of immigrants on the employment agencies coupled with their general ignorance of the American system brought about an ethical dilemma for the employment agent in which it became very easy to take advantage of people seeking a job. This resulted in an extreme prejudice directed at immigrants by the American employment system. A study was conducted in the early 1900s gauged the degree of corruption among employment agents and the results of this study have been provided (see Tables 1, 2, and 3)

Table 1

Table1

Table 2

Table2

Table 3

 Table3

Suppose that a Greek immigrant were denied services at an Italian employment agency, which has a policy that only Italians are allowed access to services. Which of the following terms best describes the situation?

Possible Answers:

Personal discrimination

Racial profiling

Deindividualizatoin

Institutional discrimination

Correct answer:

Institutional discrimination

Explanation:

Discrimination is treatment that either favors or excludes people based on their belonging to a specific group or class. In this case, the Greek man is excluded because of his nationality. Institutional discrimination differs from personal discrimination when discriminatory practices are the policy of a group (in this case the employment agency), not just an action or policy of one person. Racial profiling is more accurately used to describe unfair suspicion for crimes based on racial identity. Deindividualization is an effect described by Milgram in which a person becomes less self-aware when with a group or authority figure.

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