MCAT Social and Behavioral Sciences : Identity and Self Expression

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

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Example Questions

Example Question #1 : Self Concept And Social Identity

Jimmy and Nate both volunteer at the dog pound. Jimmy loves animals of all kinds and loves the chance to be around dogs. Nate doesn’t particularly like animals, but he needs service hours for a club he is in at school. 

At the end of his experience at the dog pound, Nate has grown to love the feeling of helping dogs. He feels positive about his individual worth. Nate has experienced a change in which of the following?

Possible Answers:

Self-concept

Self-efficacy

Self-esteem

None of these

Correct answer:

Self-esteem

Explanation:

Nate’s increase in self-worth directly correlates with “self-esteem,” or the belief that one’s self is important or valuable. “Self-efficacy” usually refers to one’s confidence in accomplishing a certain task. “Self-concept” is an idea of how someone internally defines himself or herself, or what sets that individual apart from others.

Example Question #2 : Self Concept And Social Identity

The idea of the looking-glass self suggests that a person's sense of self results from the perception of others. The sociological theory that best aligns with this idea is which of the following?

Possible Answers:

Symbolic interaction theory

None of these

Labeling theory

Conflict theory

Social constructionism

Correct answer:

Symbolic interaction theory

Explanation:

"Symbolic interactionism" states that meaning is a social product derived from interaction with others, and is the framework for the looking-glass self posited by Charles Cooley. On the other hand, "conflict theory" describes power and social stability, while the "labeling theory" examines the influence of terms attached to individuals. Last, "social constructionism" looks at the ways in which social realities are created by groups and individuals. It does not describe a person's self-identity.

Example Question #1 : Self Esteem And Locus Of Control

Excerpt from "The Social Problems of American Farmers" by Kenyon L. Butterfield, 1905

Butterfield, Kenyon L. "The Social Problems of American Farmers." American Journal of Sociology 10.5 (1905): 606-22.

 

Perhaps the one great underlying social difficulty among American farmers is their comparatively isolated mode of life. The farmer's family is isolated from other families. A small city of perhaps twenty thousand population will contain from four hundred to six hundred families per square mile, whereas a typical agricultural community in a prosperous agricultural state will hardly average more than ten families per square mile. The farming class is isolated from other classes. Farmers, of course, mingle considerably in a business and political way with the men of their trading town and county seat; but, broadly speaking, farmers do not associate freely with people living under urban conditions and possessing other than the rural point of view. It would be venturesome to suggest very definite generalizations with respect to the precise influence of these conditions, because, so far as the writer is aware, the psychology of isolation has not been worked out. But two or three conclusions seem to be admissible, and for that matter rather generally accepted.

The well-known conservatism of the farming class is doubtless largely due to class isolation. Habits, ideas, traditions, and ideals have long life in the rural community. Changes come slowly. There is a tendency to tread the well-worn paths. The farmer does not easily keep in touch with rapid modern development, unless the movements or methods directly affect him. Physical agencies which improve social conditions, such as electric lights, telephones, and pavements, come to the city first. The atmosphere of the country speaks peace and quiet. Nature's routine of sunshine and storm, of summer and winter, encourages routine and repetition in the man who works with her…

There is time to brood over wrongs, real and imaginary. Personal prejudices often grow to be rank and coarse-fibered. Neighborhood feuds are not uncommon and are often virulent. Leadership is made difficult and sometimes impossible. It is easy to fall into personal habits that may mark off the farmer from other classes of similar intelligence, and that bar him from his rightful social place.

It would, however, be distinctly unfair to the farm community if we did not emphasize some of the advantages that grow out of the rural mode of life. Farmers have time to think, and the typical American farmer is a man who has thought much and often deeply. A spirit of sturdy independence is generated, and freedom of will and of action is encouraged. Family life is nowhere so educative as in the country. The whole family cooperates for common ends, and in its individual members are bred the qualities of industry, patience, and perseverance. The manual work of the schools is but a makeshift for the old-fashioned training of the country-grown boy. Country life is an admirable preparation for the modern industrial and professional career.

 

A popular stereotype about men from the rural areas of the South is that they have very quick tempers. One theory is that the ancestors of many Southerners came from areas of Europe where fighting was an honorable part of life. A person that believes that his genetics are primarily responsible for his aggressive actions displays which of the following?

Possible Answers:

Low internal locus of control

High internal locus of control

No locus of control

Low external locus of control

Correct answer:

Low internal locus of control

Explanation:

A locus of control describes how someone views the development of events in his or her life. People with a high internal locus of control believes that they can control a situation through their own actions. People with a high external locus of control believe that life is primarily controlled by the environment. Since the person in the scenario believes that genetics (over which they have no control) are to blame for aggressive behavior, they have a high external locus and a low internal locus of control. 

Example Question #1 : Individual Behavior And Learning

Excerpt from "The Social Problems of American Farmers" by Kenyon L. Butterfield, 1905

Butterfield, Kenyon L. "The Social Problems of American Farmers." American Journal of Sociology 10.5 (1905): 606-22.

 

Perhaps the one great underlying social difficulty among American farmers is their comparatively isolated mode of life. The farmer's family is isolated from other families. A small city of perhaps twenty thousand population will contain from four hundred to six hundred families per square mile, whereas a typical agricultural community in a prosperous agricultural state will hardly average more than ten families per square mile. The farming class is isolated from other classes. Farmers, of course, mingle considerably in a business and political way with the men of their trading town and county seat; but, broadly speaking, farmers do not associate freely with people living under urban conditions and possessing other than the rural point of view. It would be venturesome to suggest very definite generalizations with respect to the precise influence of these conditions, because, so far as the writer is aware, the psychology of isolation has not been worked out. But two or three conclusions seem to be admissible, and for that matter rather generally accepted.

The well-known conservatism of the farming class is doubtless largely due to class isolation. Habits, ideas, traditions, and ideals have long life in the rural community. Changes come slowly. There is a tendency to tread the well-worn paths. The farmer does not easily keep in touch with rapid modern development, unless the movements or methods directly affect him. Physical agencies which improve social conditions, such as electric lights, telephones, and pavements, come to the city first. The atmosphere of the country speaks peace and quiet. Nature's routine of sunshine and storm, of summer and winter, encourages routine and repetition in the man who works with her…

There is time to brood over wrongs, real and imaginary. Personal prejudices often grow to be rank and coarse-fibered. Neighborhood feuds are not uncommon and are often virulent. Leadership is made difficult and sometimes impossible. It is easy to fall into personal habits that may mark off the farmer from other classes of similar intelligence, and that bar him from his rightful social place.

It would, however, be distinctly unfair to the farm community if we did not emphasize some of the advantages that grow out of the rural mode of life. Farmers have time to think, and the typical American farmer is a man who has thought much and often deeply. A spirit of sturdy independence is generated, and freedom of will and of action is encouraged. Family life is nowhere so educative as in the country. The whole family cooperates for common ends, and in its individual members are bred the qualities of industry, patience, and perseverance. The manual work of the schools is but a makeshift for the old-fashioned training of the country-grown boy. Country life is an admirable preparation for the modern industrial and professional career.

According to the author, life on a farm can be extremely based around the family. It is in the family that most children learn morals from their parents. Kohlberg described several stages of moral development. In which of the following stages are most adults found?

Possible Answers:

Conventional

Pre-conventional

Post-conventional

Concrete operational

Correct answer:

Conventional

Explanation:

Most adults and adolescents are found on the conventional stage of Kohlberg’s Stages of Moral Reasoning. In this stage, people generally follow the rules because they believe it will benefit themselves and the society more than breaking the rules. Those in the post-conventional stage follow the rules based solely on their moral ideas of right and wrong, not necessarily the consequences. Most people do not reach this stage. Children are found in the pre-conventional stage. The concrete operational stage is part of Piaget’s stages of development.

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