MCAT Social and Behavioral Sciences : Explaining Social Behavior

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for MCAT Social and Behavioral Sciences

varsity tutors app store varsity tutors android store

All MCAT Social and Behavioral Sciences Resources

133 Practice Tests Question of the Day Flashcards Learn by Concept

Example Questions

Example Question #1 : Explaining Social Behavior

Impression management is most closely associated with which of the following?

Possible Answers:

Back stage

Front stage

Self-handicapping

The dramaturgical perspective

Coercion

Correct answer:

Front stage

Explanation:

Impression management is when we attempt to control what others think of us. Front stage is the role we play using impression management to craft the way we come across to people. Both of these are part of the sociological theory of dramaturgy, which includes back stage behavior, but they are directly linked through functional purpose.

Self-handicapping occurs when we create obstacles and excuses for why we fail at or can’t do something. This is correlated with impression management, but is not always part of it. Coercion is the practice of persuading someone to do something by using force or threats; it does not attempt to control the way people see us.

Example Question #2 : Explaining Social Behavior

Behavior is motivated by social influence in three ways; which of the following is not one of them?

Possible Answers:

Conformity

Identification

Internalization

Compliance

None of these

Correct answer:

Conformity

Explanation:

Behavior is motivated by social influence in three ways: compliance (i.e. motivated by desire for a reward or avoidance of a punishment), identification (i.e. desire to be like another person or group), and internalization (i.e. actions motivated by values and beliefs in someone’s own value system).

Conformity is a behavior, which may be affected by these three factors.

Example Question #3 : Explaining Social Behavior

Excerpt from “Institutional Competition,” Edward A. Ross, American Journal of Sociology 1919 25:2, 171-184

The first impulse of any organization or institution on the appearance of a serious competitor is to destroy competition. The "trust" regularly cuts the prices of its products to a point below cost of production in localities in which an "independent" seeks to sell. A shipping combine will have "fighting ships" which are called into play when a new steamship line enters their trade. As soon as the competitor announces a sailing date the combine advertises a steamer to sail on or near this date and offers a freight rate below the actual cost of carriage. In this way the competitor is prevented from securing a cargo.

The highest social class hobbles by minute sumptuary regulations the classes, which aspire to come up abreast of it. In feudal Japan, for example, one might not use his money as he pleased. The farmer, craftsman, or shopkeeper could not build a house as he liked or procure himself such articles of luxury as his taste might incline him to buy. The richest commoner might not order certain things to be made for him, might not imitate the habits or assume the privileges of his betters. Although urged on economic grounds, sumptuary restrictions are doubtless intended to protect the monopoly of prestige by the higher social orders.

The spread of anti-slavery feeling among the producing people of the North during the generation before the American Civil War was due to their perception that slavery is a menace to the free-labor system. In accounting for the early abolition of slavery in Massachusetts John Adams remarks: "Argument might have had some weight ... but the real cause was the multiplication of laboring white people who would not longer suffer the rich to employ these sable rivals so much to their injury."

The whole history of religious persecution is the history of an organization trying to establish itself as a monopoly by ruthless destruction of the spokesmen of competing doctrines and movements. In Diocletian's time Roman religious beliefs were weak while the Christian beliefs were vigorous and spreading. In desperation the old system made a ferocious attempt to exterminate all Christians. A thousand years later the church stamped certain sects out of existence and strangled heresies in the cradle. Says Coulton:

…What Darwin took at first for a smooth unbroken grassland proved, on nearer examination, to be thick-set with tiny self-sown firs, which the cattle regularly cropped as they grew. Similarly, that which some love to picture as the harmonious growth of one great body through the Middle Ages is really a history of many divergent opinions violently strangled at birth; while hundreds more, too vigorous to be killed by the adverse surroundings, and elastic enough to take something of the outward color of their environment, grew in spite of the hierarchy into organisms which, in their turn, profoundly modified the whole constitution of the Church. If the mediaeval theory and practice of persecution had still been in full force in the eighteenth century in England, nearly all the best Wesleyans would have chosen to remain within the Church rather than to shed blood in revolt; and the rest would have been killed off like wild beasts. The present unity of Romanism so far as it exists, is due less to tact than to naked force.

What can be inferred about the author's opinion of the underlying motivation for the Northern crusade against Southern slavery?

Possible Answers:

John Adams felt that the Southern states were becoming too rich.

The Southern states had an unfair advantage in reduced production costs because of their cheap labor. 

Northerners were morally opposed to slavery for religious reasons.

The Northerners were bitter that the South had better access to the slave trade.

Correct answer:

The Southern states had an unfair advantage in reduced production costs because of their cheap labor. 

Explanation:

The author claims that anti-slavery feeling was due to the “perception that slavery is a menace to the free-labor system.” This means that the North couldn’t compete with the South because the South didn’t have a free-labor market; they relied on slave labor, which was cheaper. Competition, not religious convictions or feelings of bitterness or jealousy, drove the anti-slave crusade (according to the author). The quote by John Adams supports this notion, but does not indicate that he felt the Southern states were becoming “too rich.”

All MCAT Social and Behavioral Sciences Resources

133 Practice Tests Question of the Day Flashcards Learn by Concept
Learning Tools by Varsity Tutors

Incompatible Browser

Please upgrade or download one of the following browsers to use Instant Tutoring: