MCAT Social and Behavioral Sciences : Emotion

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

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Example Questions

Example Question #10 : Stress And Emotion

Which of the following best represents the James-Lange theory of emotion?

Possible Answers:

An external stimulus engages the thalamus, which results in simultaneous physiological arousal and emotional sensation

Physiological arousal will result in different emotional sensations depending on available environmental cues

An external stimulus causes physiological arousal, which causes emotional sensation

The purpose of emotional sensation adapted as a learning mechanism

An external stimulus will be carried to the brain through afferent neurons, processed in the thalamus, and a response will be sent via efferent neurons

Correct answer:

An external stimulus causes physiological arousal, which causes emotional sensation

Explanation:

Three of these answer choices represent key theories on the ways that emotional sensation is processed and perceived.

The James-Lange theory is represented by the answer choice that states "an external stimulus causes physiological arousal, which causes emotional sensation."

The Cannon-Bard theory is represented by the answer choice that states "an external stimulus engages the thalamus, which results in simultaneous physiological arousal and emotional sensation."

The Schachter-Singer theory is represented by the answer choice that states "physiological arousal will result in different emotional sensations depending on available environmental cues."

The answer choice regarding neurons is accurate for the processing of stimuli, but is not discussed in emotional theories with the minor exception of the role of thalamic processing in the Cannon-Bard theory. The answer choice regarding the evolutionary and adaptive role of emotion is not related to any of these theories.

Example Question #1 : Emotion

Emotion plays a critical role in attitude change. A great deal of attitude research notes the importance of affective/emotional components. Important factors to consider in emotion’s impact on attitude are: self-efficacy, attitude accessibility, issue involvement, and message/source features. Of these factors, which has the greatest potential to change the individual’s emotional self-perception—the way they feel about themselves?

Possible Answers:

Self-efficacy

Message source/features

Issue involvement

Attitude accessibility

None of these

Correct answer:

Self-efficacy

Explanation:

Self-efficacy is a perception of human agency, the perception of one’s ability to face a situation. It dictates one’s ability to deal with emotion brought up by a situation, and to process it via perception.

While intriguing, the other choices are incorrect. Attitude accessibility refers to the activation of an attitude from memory. Studies have shown that accessible attitudes are change-resistant. Issue involvement is the relevance and salience of an issue or situation to an individual; it is correlated with attitude access and attitude strength—both of which are distinct from perception. Message source and features of the message being sent are on an object-subject correlative; they are not directly relevant to perception.

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