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MCAT Content / AAMC MCAT Practice Exam 2 Ps Solutions

AAMC FL2 PS [Web]

Exam 2 P/S Solutions: Passage 1

1) This question involves knowing the four structures of the eye listed in the answer choices. We’ll have to judge which would be the most important when comparing the color perception of humans and baboons.  

  1. Optic disc The optic disc is where the optic nerve connects to the retina, which you can see in the above image. It is the point of exit for ganglion cell axons leaving the eye. The blind spot you have in each eye corresponds to the optic disc.
  2. Sclera The sclera is the white, outer layer of the eye. It’s mostly for protection and form. 
  3. Fovea The fovea is the region in the center back of the eye that is responsible for acute vision. The fovea has a high density of cones. When you bring your gaze to an object to examine it intently in bright light, the eyes orient so that the object’s image falls on the fovea. This sounds like the most relevant function to color perception so far.
  4. Lens The lens is a transparent biconvex structure in the eye that, along with the cornea, helps to refract light to be focused on the retina. Answer choice C is going to remain our best option. The fovea is related to color sensation, and that is where we’d want the most similarity in eye structure.

2) First part of our passage explained how humans abruptly switched from blue to green responses at a certain wavelength in the experiment. We perceive these colors categorically as either green or blue, while baboons do not. The plot for baboons will be different; we should see a continuum and a steady increase from green to blue. 

  1. This answer choice incorrectly shows the percent of green responses do not change. The baboons are able to distinguish between the colors. This is an unlikely graph
  2. This is just the reverse of Figure 1 in the passage and shows the colors being perceived categorically (either green or blue)
  3. This is identical to the graph in the passage and also shows the colors being perceived categorically. We know that’s not the case in baboons.
  4. This correctly shows a continuous pattern and a steady increase from green to blue. Answer choice D is going to be our best answer.

3) To answer this question, we’ll look through the four answer choices presented and go through the functions of each. We want the answer choice that’s related to viewing color, or vision in general.

  1. occipital cortex. The occipital lobe controls vision, so right away we have a promising answer. We can look at our other answers and dive further in the functions if we need to get into further detail. 
  2. temporal cortex. The temporal lobe controls hearing and some other speech functions. Answer choice A remains our best option because it controls vision.
  3. somatosensory cortex. Like its name suggests, the somatosensory cortex processes somatic sensations. Our senses gather information, and the somatosensory cortex processes these sensations.
  4. motor cortex. The motor cortex functions to control and execute voluntary movement. Out of all the answer choices listed, only the occipital cortex controls vision. Our best answer is going to be answer choice A. 

4) We can get this information from the passage.

I have highlighted what I feel is going to be necessary information from the passage. We have a positive banana chip when a correct response was produced. We have an aversive (strongly disliked) procedure when there are incorrect responses. 

  1. Fixed ratio there are a set number of responses that must occur before the behavior is rewarded. This sounds like our experiment. The subject gets a banana chip after a correct response. 
  2. Variable ratio the number of responses needed for a reward varies.
  3. Fixed interval is when behavior is rewarded after a set amount of time.
  4. Variable interval the subject gets the reinforcement based on varying and unpredictable amounts of time. The schedule that is used in the color-matching task is answer choice A: Fixed ratio.

 

Exam 2 P/S Solutions: Passage 2

5) First thing we can do here is bring up where the author talks about assimilation patterns in the passage.

We want to find variation in a set of answer choices and make sure we relate to this final paragraph in the passage. This is ultimately going to come down to knowing your vocabulary for the behavioral section.

  1. Social status and roles. Social status refers to one’s standing in the community and his position in the social hierarchy. A role is a set of rules or norms that function as plans or blueprints to guide behavior within a particular society.
  2. Social and cultural capital. Cultural capital is the accumulation of knowledge, behaviors, and skills that a person can tap into to demonstrate one’s cultural competence and social status. Social capital includes the advantages conferred by one’s social network, such as access to professional opportunities and insider knowledge.
  3. Cultural values and norms. Values include culturally-defined standards that serve as broad guidelines for social living. Norms include rules and expectations by which a society guides the behavior of its members. Traditions and standards can vary by region, so there is variation regarding how immigrants adopt these local traditions and standards. There is geographic variation in cultural values and norms, so answer choice C is going to be our best answer.
  4. Material and symbolic culture. Material culture refers to the relationship between artifacts and social relations; symbolic culture refers to the ideas, beliefs, values, or norms that shape a society.

6) The MCAT loves well-rounded students, and this question is an example of exactly that! We’re going to consider some historical factors for why there has been an increase in population of people aged 65 and older, and why there is a projected increase as well. 

  1. The increased immigration rate since the 1950s. While there has been an increased immigration rate, the immigrants mentioned in the passage are mostly children, not individuals aged 65 or older.
  2. The increased fertility rate after World War II. This is a very likely answer as it relates to the baby boomers, which is the generation of babies born after WWII. There was a big increase in fertility rate at this time, and these individuals are now over the age of 65.
  3. The sexual revolution of the 1960s and 1970s. The sexual revolution is more a change in the way of thinking about how sex is perceived. This did not increase fertility rate like answer choice B. 
  4. The relative deprivation of the Great Depression. Deprivation would likely have the opposite effect on the population. Fewer children would be born. Answer choice B is going to remain our best option.

7) First thing we’re going to do to answer this question is define conflict theory. Conflict theory is a way of studying society by focusing on inequality between different groups and sees social life as a competition and focuses on the distribution of resources and power between these groups. Conflict theory views change as abrupt and revolutionary; that change and revolution is the result of inequality. In the conflict perspective, change comes about through conflict between competing interests, not consensus or adaptation. The passage did talk about demographic change affecting the US healthcare delivery system, but we want to explain this from the perspective of a conflict theorist. 

  1. This is more describing social constructionism. Social constructionism is a perspective that focuses on how knowledge and experiences are not real, but exist because individuals and society give them meaning. This collective meaning provides the reality we live in. Ideas, like health and disease for example, are defined and shaped over time by society, and therefore subject to different cultural norms.
  2. This is more functionalism. Functionalism promotes solidarity and stability in a community but cannot account for the individual or any social changes
  3. The focus on social support here might be a symbolic interactionism perspective. Symbolic Interactionism focuses on small scale perspectives with small interactions between individuals. It explains how individuals act in society and can be expanded to look at the interactions of larger social groups to explain social change
  4. A conflict theorist would focus on a discrepancy in political power base on generational status. They would focus on the allocation of resources. Answer choice D is going to be our best option here. 

8) This is going to be a content question that’s tangentially related to the passage. We can define the four terms given as answer choices and pick the one that is most likely to increase as the US population ages.

  1. the dependency ratio. This is a mathematical comparison of the number of people aged less than 14 and above 65 who are not part of the labor force, compared to those aged 15-64 who are part of the workforce. As we have a larger percentage of the population over 65 years of age and high birth rates, this ratio will increase. 
  2. the social gradient in health. This refers to how wealthy people are found to live longer on average than middle-class people, and middle-class people live longer than poor people.
  3. the life course perspective. Life-course theory views aging as changes in social, psychological and biological processes with time. Answer choice A is more obviously going to change with an aging US population. 
  4. the intersectionality of medicine. All individuals have multiple aspects of identity, and simultaneously experience some privileges due to their socially valued identity statuses and disadvantages due to their devalued identity statuses. This is not going to increase with increased age.

 

Exam 2 P/S Solutions: Questions 9-12

9) The theory of linguistic relativity states that the structure of a language influences the way its speakers conceptualize the world. The canonical example of studying linguistic relativity is in the area of color naming. Sapir and Whorf would believe that people whose languages partition the color spectrum along different lines perceive colors in a different way.

  1. All languages have a word for “up” and a word for “down.” While this may or may not be a true statement, we’re supporting the linguistic relativity hypothesis here, which doesn’t happen with answer choice A. This would be support for linguistic universalism. 
  2. Humans are better at learning words for primary colors than for secondary colors. Humans can learn the words just fine, it’s a matter of actually defining these colors and names. If you know three colors for three shades of green, you’re able to distinguish and point out those shades of green when you see them. Just because green is a secondary color does not mean we’re any worse at learning words for green.
  3. Some languages do not have words for “right” and “left.” Reasoning here is similar to answer choice A. While this may or may not be a true statement, we’re supporting the linguistic relativity hypothesis here. The structure of these languages influences how speakers conceptualize the world. 
  4. Humans are better at distinguishing colors for which their language has a name. This is the classic example for linguistic relativity hypothesis. I mentioned this earlier when going through answer choice B. If you know three colors for three shades of green, you’re able to distinguish and point out those shades of green when you see them. If you’ve never heard of the name or word for something, it’s difficult to comprehend. Answer choice D is going to be our best answer. 

10) First thing we’re going to do here is define a source-monitoring error. A source-monitoring error is a memory error in which the source of a memory is incorrectly attributed to some specific recollected experience. For example, the fictitious names are going to be fresh in the participants’ minds, so they might incorrectly believe they remember the name because it is a famous person they’ve heard of. There’s no real confidence in how the name was learned: either through hearing about a real famous person, or from seeing the fictitious name the previous day. While they might recall some of the old fictitious names as famous, that likely doesn’t mean they will forget the celebrity names as famous. 

Answer choice A reflects these observations. The individual will still recognize the celebrity names as famous people. They will incorrectly recognize some of the old fictitious names from the previous day as famous people because they do not recall how the name was learned. And lastly, there will be very few new fictitious names that the participants will recognize as a famous person. Answer choice A is our best answer.

11) This patient is only forgetting the events surrounding the marriage and spouse, but everything else is intact. There’s no continuity between memories, and there’s a disconnect between reality and their memory.

  1. a conversion disorder. A conversion disorder involves having symptoms that cannot be supported by medical evaluation. In this case, this is likely a dissociative disorder in which the patient is selectively forgetting these negative memories.
  2. schizophrenia. Schizophrenia is a disorder of psychosis in which the person’s thoughts, perceptions, and behaviors are out of contact with reality.
  3. retrograde amnesia. Retrograde amnesia is the inability to retrieve old memories. Retrograde memories refer to memories that occur prior to a specific point in time – generally an injury or illness that affects long-term memory. While this might be tempting, remember the patient is only forgetting the events surrounding the marriage and spouse, but everything else is intact.
  4. a dissociative disorder. Dissociative disorders involve a pathological separation from conscious awareness and range from mild to extreme. The patient in the question stem has a disconnect between memory and reality because they are selectively forgetting these difficult times and experiences. Dissociation describes a wide array of experiences from mild detachment from immediate surroundings to more severe detachment from physical and emotional experience. Answer choice D is our correct answer. 

12) This question is asking us to identify a type of conditioning or learning that is associated with increased reward-seeking motivation. 

  1. Classical conditioning involves learning in which the stimulus or experience occurs before the behavior, and then gets paired or associated with the behavior
  2. Operant conditioning. Operant conditioning is a theory of learning that focuses on changes in an individual’s observable behaviors. In operant conditioning, new or continued behaviors are impacted by new or continued consequences. These consequences influence behavior. In operant conditioning, positive reinforcers add a wanted or pleasant stimulus to increase or maintain the frequency of a behavior. This is going to be our best answer to this specific question.
  3. Latent learning Latent learning is when something is learned by not expressed an observable behavior until it is required.
  4. Observational learning is learning that occurs as a function of seeing, retaining, and, in the case of imitation learning, replicating novel behavior executed by other people. We don’t have modeling in our question stem, so answer choice B is going to be our best answer.

 

Exam 2 P/S Solutions: Passage 3

13) This question is going to involve going back to the passage to find key information about social mobility, then we’ll jump into the four key terms in our answer choices.

The author mentions scholars are questioning assumptions about opportunity in American society.

  1. Meritocracy. A meritocracy is an ideal system based on the belief that social stratification is the result of personal effort—or merit—that determines social standing. High levels of effort will lead to a high social position, and vice versa. However, the United States tends to have less social mobility than peer countries. That means scholars are questioning meritocracy in America. This is a strong answer choice. 
  2. Socialization. Socialization is the process by which the new generation learns the knowledge, attitudes and values that they will need as productive citizens. The agents of socialization are comprised of the groups and people who influence personal attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors.
  3. Social identity Social identity involves an individual’s self-concept derived from perceived membership in a social group. 
  4. Cultural capital Cultural capital is the accumulation of knowledge, behaviors, and skills that a person can tap into to demonstrate one’s cultural competence and social status. Answer choice A is going to be our best answer.

14) We can go back to the passage to see what the author mentions about poverty, then we can relate that information to the four types of poverty in our answer choices. 

In the passage, the author makes mentions to income compared to the median income. That’s a classic example of relative poverty, however, let’s go through our answer choices to confirm.

  1. Absolute poverty is a measure of poverty based on a set standard that is consistent over time and between countries, referring to the ability of individuals or groups to meet their basic needs.
  2. Marginal poverty involves lacking stable employment. An individual cannot maintain a steady job or find a steady job.
  3. Relative poverty A measure of wealth inequality, describing an individual or group’s wealth relative to another individual or group. This matches our breakdown. As I mentioned, the author compares wealth with the median income in the United States. This is going to be our best answer. 
  4. Structural poverty appears to be a distractor and not something covered on AAMC’s content outline. We can stick with answer choice C as our best answer.

15) To answer this question, we’ll have to consider what the author mentions about immigrant groups and assimilation. The third paragraph in the passage talks about social interaction factors.

We are told that strong social support in local immigrant communities can explain superior health of individuals from immigrant groups in the United States. That’s comparted to US-born individuals. That means individuals that are less assimilated have strong social support and superior health. Individuals that are more assimilated have worse health and lower levels of support. Answer choice C is going to be our best answer according to the passage.

16) Socioeconomic gradient in health refers to how wealthy people are found to live longer on average than middle-class people, and middle-class people live longer than poor people. The wealthiest have the best healthcare. However, the author mentions the U.S. health disadvantage is not confined to racial or ethnic minority groups, or to groups with low income or educational attainment. It exists for all social classes and for the non-Hispanic white majority group.

  1. The U.S. has a comparatively high median household income. While this may be true, this does not directly contradict the socioeconomic gradient in health. 
  2. The U.S. health disadvantage exists for all social classes. This is consistent with our breakdown and contradicts the socioeconomic gradient in health. Theoretically, the wealthiest Americans would be in great health, but that’s not the case. This is a good answer choice.
  3. The U.S. lags behind peer countries in health indicators. Reasoning here is going to be similar to answer choice A. While this option may be true, this does not directly contradict the socioeconomic gradient in health. Answer choice B remains superior. 
  4. The U.S. health disadvantage is explained by social capital. Social capital includes the advantages conferred by one’s social network, such as access to professional opportunities and insider knowledge. While the statement may be true, this does not directly contradict the socioeconomic gradient in health. 

 

Exam 2 P/S Solutions: Passage 4

17) While this question is a passage-based question, we can most likely answer this question by knowing the definition of the fundamental attribution error. The fundamental attribution error describes the tendency to over-value internal (personality-based) explanations and under-value external (situational) explanations for another person’s behavior. 

  1. Some participants rank personality factors above environmental factors. This answer choice is a great definition for fundamental attribution error. Participants will over-value internal explanations and under-value external explanations for another person’s behavior. Answer choice A is a great start.
  2. Some participants rank genetic factors above personality factors. This is the opposite of what we’re looking for. The fundamental attribution error describes the tendency to over-value personality factors.
  3. Some participants rank environmental factors over both personality and genetic factors. This is similar to answer choice B as it is the opposite of what we’re looking for. The fundamental attribution error describes the tendency to over-value personality factors, not environmental factors.
  4. Some participants rank genetic factors over both personality and environmental factors. Reasoning here will be the same as answer choice C. The fundamental attribution error describes the tendency to over-value personality factors, not genetic factors.

18) In regards to the response times during the IAT, the author mentions a shorter response time for a particular combination of image and attribute indicates a stronger link in the participant’s mind. We’re simply finding a vocabulary word that is consistent with this observation. Let’s go through the four choices.

  1. Interference usually occurs when memories will interfere with the retrieval of other memories or information. It’s not clear interference of any kind explains the observed response times during the IAT.
  2. Dissonance occurs when a person experiences conflict, contradiction, or inconsistency in their cognitions. Dissonance is strongest when a discrepancy has been noticed between one’s self-concept and one’s behavior.
  3. Modeling, otherwise known as observational learning, occurs from watching, retaining, and replicating a behavior observed from a model. This is not what’s happening in the passage.
  4. Schemas This relates to Jean Piaget and how we interpret and understand the world. A schema is a mental representation, meaning as we encounter things in our environment, we develop additional schemas. This happens from a very young age and as we go through life. Piaget also uses assimilation and accommodation to explain schemas. When the participant answered quickly, the memory schema was activated quickly and there was a stronger link in the participant’s mind. Answer choice D is going to be our best answer here.

19) The author dedicates an entire paragraph talking about the study’s online questionnaire. We can revisit that paragraph in the passage.

We ultimately want to determine which component of attitudes is assessed by this questionnaire. There are three main components of attitudes, however, we can define each of the 4 options listed as answer choices and find the best answer.

  1. Affective The affective component deals with feelings
  2. Behavioral The behavioral component deals with the effect of the attitude on behavior
  3. Cognitive The cognitive component has to do with beliefs, ideas, and knowledge. This is exactly what’s happening in the questionnaire. It’s focused on participants’ ideas about how people gain or lose weight. 
  4. Subconscious This is a distractor that is not one of the “ABCs of attitude”. Answer choice C is going to be our best answer because the questionnaire assessed participants ideas about how people gain or lose weight. 

20) This question is asking about specific information from paragraph 2, so we can pull it up here. 

The author mentions that for attitudes on sensitive topics, internet responses may have advantages over face-to-face interviews and telephone surveys. Why is that? The internet gives the participants a sense of anonymity and allows them to be more open without feeling like they are being judged. A telephone or face-to-face survey might be too personal.

  1. Selection bias is a bias that occurs when the participants in the study differ from the general population. Participants might be selected improperly and the results can suffer.
  2. Attribution error attribution error occurs when people tend to overemphasize internal factors as explanations for the behavior of other people. We assume the behavior of another is a trait of the person and we underestimate context.
  3. Social desirability involves participants reporting answers that are more socially acceptable than what is their actual answer. This is done to make themselves look better and to not get any negative evaluations. This ties in with exactly what we mentioned in our breakdown. Internet responses give the participants a sense of anonymity and allows them to be more open and honest. This will be our best answer.
  4. Stereotype threat is the experience of anxiety or concern in a situation where a person has the potential to confirm a negative stereotype about their social group. Not what’s happening in this situation. Answer choice C is going to be our best option. 

21) This question involves going back to the results of the study. We can pull up the paragraph from the passage that discusses these results:

We see strong anti-obesity bias in MDs with a lower BMI. MDs with a higher BMI have a moderate anti-obesity bias. We want to find an aspect of social interaction that explains these findings.

  1. Primary versus secondary group ties A primary group is typically a small social group whose members share close, personal, enduring relationships. Families and close friends are examples of primary groups. Secondary groups are large groups whose relationships are impersonal and goal-oriented; their relationships are temporary. Secondary groups are large groups whose relationships are impersonal and goal-oriented.
  2. In-group versus out-group associations In-groups are social groups to which an individual feels he or she belongs, while an individual doesn’t identify with the out-group. That’s exactly what’s going on in this situation. Responses and anti-obesity bias correlated to the respondent’s own BMI category. Thinner respondents showed anti-obesity bias (toward the out-group). Respondents with higher BMI showed less of an anti-obesity bias (toward the in-group to which they belong).
  3. Front-stage versus back-stage presentations The front stage self encompasses the behavior a player (person) performs in front of an audience (usually society, or some subset of society). Usually when being watched. The backstage self, by contrast, is employed when players are together, but no audience is present.
  4. Role-taking versus impression management Roles are patterns of behavior that we recognize in each other and are representative of a person’s social status. Impression management is the process of consciously making behavioral choices in order to create a specific impression in the minds of others. 

22) To answer this question, we can reference the researchers’ suggestion for future study. The researchers suggested that more studies are needed to explore how implicit attitudes about weight might affect healthcare quality. The whole passage revolved around this to an extent, so this was a natural project to suggest by the researchers. 

  1. A survey of clinicians’ training in preventing medical conditions related to excess weight. The researchers suggest exploring attitudes about weight affecting healthcare quality. While this survey can be helpful, it’s out of scope. We’re not concerned with the training being done in this case.
  2. A focus group that raises clinicians’ awareness of implicit bias and weight discrimination in health care. This is another example of a great focus group, but it’s not the best application of the researchers’ suggestion. While prevention and raising awareness would be great, this does not dive into how implicit attitudes about weight might affect healthcare quality. 
  3. An experiment that measures changes in clinicians’ attitudes after interacting with patients who have different BMIs. This is another experiment that would be beneficial, but it’s not exactly what the researchers suggested. This idea is more of a way to change attitudes rather than explore how implicit attitudes can affect healthcare quality.
  4. An observational study of clinicians’ verbal and nonverbal communication with patients who have different BMIs. This answer choice gets into how implicit attitudes about different BMIs actually affect healthcare quality. The study can dive into how communication changes based on weight and relate healthcare quality to weight, just like the researchers suggested. This is going to be our best option. 

 

Exam 2 P/S Solutions: Passage 5

23) To answer this question, we can go back to the passage and note the provider attitudes. We’re told “SUD treatment disparities could also be related to patient–provider interactions. In a study of healthcare provider attitudes, researchers concluded that providers often overlooked the consequences of discrimination and poverty in explaining their patients’ behaviors.” Providers fail to consider a type of explanation of behavior. We can go through the four types listed here and see which one is not considered.

  1. Dispositional Attributions are classified as either internal or external. Internal attributions include dispositional, or personality-based explanations. That means individual choices or an internal personality trait.
  2. Cognitive In relation to attitude, the cognitive component is the beliefs, thoughts, and opinions. This is also internal, while things like discrimination and poverty are not.
  3. Situational this is like the opposite of answer choice A. External attributions emphasize situational factors like genetics, discrimination, and socioeconomic status. This is exactly what the provider fails to consider.
  4. Affective The affective component of attitude deals with feelings and emotions. We’re going to stick with answer choice C. The providers sometimes fail to consider situational explanations of behavior.

24) First thing we want to do to answer this question is to reference the passage and what the author says about dependence and substance use disorders. The author mentions in the 2nd paragraph, “Although psychoactive drugs vary in terms of their risk of dependence, one of the factors associated with substance use disorders (SUD) in adolescents is the strong desire to ingest a drug (or other substance).” We want to define and pick one of the four answer choices that is consistent with this statement.

  1. Habituation is the diminishing of a physiological or emotional response to a frequently repeated stimulus. For example, suppose you live near an emergency room and ambulances pass your house regularly. After living in the house for a few months, you become used to the sound and stop covering your ears every time an ambulance wails.
  2. Tolerance is the decreased effectiveness of the substance after prolonged use. We’re more concerned with the strong desire to ingest the drugs/substances. Let’s keep looking for a better answer. 
  3. Withdrawal involves the effects of either reducing or quitting the use of a substance. These effects can be physiological or behavioral. Withdrawal does not have as much to do with the desire to actually ingest the drug, but rather the effect of no longer ingesting drugs.
  4. Craving is exactly what is described in the passage. A craving is a powerful desire for something; we’re told in the passage there is a strong desire to ingest a drug or other substances. Answer choice D is going to be our best answer. 

25) This question is a content question that is tangentially related to the passage. While the passage did focus on drugs and dependence, we can answer this question using our general knowledge.

  1. Stimulants Stimulants increase the activity of the nervous system through several different mechanisms and are often used medically to boost endurance and counteract fatigue. Individuals can use and depend on stimulants and chase the feeling of facilitating the activity of neurotransmitters. 
  2. Hallucinogens Hallucinogens are drugs that alter sensory input to the brain. These drugs can alter an individual’s perception of reality, but there is a comparatively low risk of dependence. This is likely the best answer. 
  3. Alcohol Alcohol is a depressant on which a person can become physically dependent. Alcohol withdrawal can become so severe that it is life-threatening.
  4. Sedatives Sedatives slow down brain activity and are typically prescription medication. The relaxing feeling can become addictive and cause dependence. Our best answer here is going to be answer choice B: hallucinogens.

26) First thing we’re going to do to answer this question is define conflict theory. Conflict theory is a way of studying society by focusing on inequality between different groups. A conflict theorist sees social life as a competition and focuses on the distribution of resources and power between these groups. Conflict theory views change as abrupt and revolutionary; that change and revolution is the result of inequality. In the conflict perspective, change comes about through conflict between competing interests, not consensus or adaptation. Let’s jump into our four answer choices and see which is the most relevant to explaining the causes of access disparities for SUD treatment. 

  1. Stratification involves a system by which a society ranks categories of people in a hierarchy. That hierarchy can be socioeconomic, or even perceived moral value. This sounds like something a conflict theorist would get behind. A conflict theorist focuses on the distribution of power and resources and would likely reference stratification to explain the causes of access disparities for SUD treatment. Answer choice A is a strong option.
  2. Racialization Racialization is the process where a majority group in society ascribes a behavior or characteristic to a minority group that they do not identify with themselves.
  3. Socialization Socialization is the process by which the new generation learns the knowledge, attitudes and values that they will need as productive citizens. This is not going to influence access disparities for SUD treatment based on the passage.
  4. Gentrification Gentrification occurs when members of the middle and upper classes enter and renovate city areas that have been historically less affluent while the poor urban underclass is forced by resulting price pressures to leave those neighborhoods for increasingly decaying portions of the city. Answer choice A is going to be our best answer here.

 

Exam 2 P/S Solutions: Questions 27-30

27) Psychoactive drugs can act as agonists for a given neurotransmitter system. These agonists are chemicals that mimic a neurotransmitter, like dopamine, at the receptor site and strengthen its effects. A dopamine agonist is dose-dependent, meaning the effects change when the dose of the drug changes. If a higher dose of the drug is used, we expect it will greatly strengthen dopamine’s effects. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that is involved in mood, sleep, and learning. Influencing dopamine can mean increased pleasure and euphoria, or suppressed appetite. 

  1. A positive correlation between the dose of the dopamine agonist and the duration of the visual hallucinations that occur when the dopamine agonist is administered. This answer choice mentions visual hallucinations which are not related to dopamine. The dopamine agonist would not increase or decrease hallucinations. 
  2. A negative correlation between the dose of the dopamine agonist and the duration of the visual hallucinations that occur when the dopamine agonist is administered. This answer choice also mentions visual hallucinations which are not related to dopamine. The dopamine agonist would not increase or decrease hallucinations.
  3. A positive correlation between the dose of the dopamine agonist and the intensity of euphoria experienced when the dopamine agonist is administered. This is consistent with what we know about an agonist. Agonists strengthen the effect of a neurotransmitter, like dopamine. We also said if a higher dose of the drug is used, we expect it will greatly strengthen dopamine’s effects. This sounds like a great answer.
  4. A negative correlation between the dose of the dopamine agonist and the intensity of euphoria experienced when the dopamine agonist is administered. We expect a positive correlation between the dose of the agonist and the intensity of euphoria experienced. We can eliminate answer choice D. Answer choice C is the best answer.

28) Discrimination is the differential treatment of an individual or group based on prejudicial thoughts. Essentially, thoughts turn into actions. Discrimination can involve the prejudicial treatment of an individual based on his or her membership, or perceived membership, in a certain group or category. In this case, the physician might assume the patient is well-educated, but we have no evidence there is any difference in treatment. At first glance, this does not sound like discrimination. Alternatively, prejudice is a positive or negative evaluation of another person based on their perceived group membership (e.g., race, class, or gender). This situation sounds more like prejudice.

  1. Yes; the scenario illustrates a judgment that is not based on supporting evidence. We already established the question stem did not describe discrimination. A judgment not based on supporting evidence does not necessarily make this discriminatory. 
  2. No; the scenario identifies a bias directed at an individual rather than at a group. While the very first part of this answer choice is consistent with our breakdown, the reasoning here is not great. A bias being directed at an individual does not dictate if discrimination or prejudice is taking place.
  3. Yes; the scenario suggests that a negative evaluation could affect the interaction. Similar to answer choice A, we do not believe discrimination is taking place. We also do not know about the interaction or else we might consider it discrimination if the treatment changed. 
  4. No; the scenario describes an attitude but does not specify differential treatment. This answer choice matches our breakdown. The scenario describes prejudice, but does not specify a change in treatment. Because we do not know about the treatment of the patient, we cannot say discrimination took place. Answer choice D is our best option.

29) Biggest thing we want to be careful about is we need to pick a statement that does NOT identify a limitation of the research design. Be careful with the verbiage. Let’s look at the four answer choices in the context of this question.

  1. The study lacks random assignment. The way the groups were picked is far from random. The researchers picked from a sample of either exercisers or non-exercisers to conduct this experiment. The study therefore does lack random assignment, but we need to pick a statement that does NOT identify a limitation of the research design.
  2. The study has a possible sampling bias. This is similar to answer choice A because we expect exercisers to be the pool from which one sample is picked, while we expect the participants in the other sample to be picked from a pool of non-exercisers.
  3. The study lacks replicable results. This is not a limitation of the research design because this study is replicable. By finding another sample of exercisers and non-exercisers, this study can be conducted again. This is going to be our best answer.
  4. The study has a possible confound. A confounding variable is a variable that can influence the results but is not considered. For example, the exercisers might also eat healthy food or visit the doctor regularly. These things are not controlled, so this is a possible limitation of this research design. 

30) At first glance, I’m thinking of two different schools of thought here. We’ll think about groupthink and social loafing. First, I know there is a tendency for people to put forth less effort when working on a group task if the individual contributions aren’t evaluated. Alternatively, in groups there is a desire for harmony in decision-making. That means there won’t be as many extreme ideas, evaluation, or alternatives. Let’s keep this in mind and look at our four choices. We want to see which patter is most likely in a group.

  1. Groups arrive at the improved alternatives more often than individuals. This contradicts our breakdown. Groups are trying to minimize conflict and maximize harmony. That often does not mean the best alternatives. Let’s keep comparing.
  2. Groups are more likely to critically evaluate alternatives than individuals. Similar to answer choice A, we want to note that groups are trying to minimize conflict and maximize harmony. There won’t be as many extreme ideas, evaluation, or alternatives as if an individual was offering alternatives.
  3. On average, participants generate more alternatives alone than in a group. This answer choice is consistent with our breakdown. We said there is a tendency for people to put forth less effort when working on a group task if the individual contributions aren’t evaluated. Fewer alternatives also means there is less room for conflict or disagreement. This sounds like a great answer.
  4. On average, participants produce more alternatives in a group than alone. This answer is the opposite of answer choice C. We expect participants in a group will produce fewer alternatives as they will want to minimize conflict. 

 

Exam 2 P/S Solutions: Passage 6

31) This is something I think you should be looking to identify in any study you see on the MCAT. Knowing the ins and outs of these studies really helps you understand the big picture in every passage. This is something that can be used in every section of the exam. There are typically independent and dependent variables in every study or experimental passage. We need to identify both, and more importantly, we have to understand their relationship. An independent variable, just like its name suggests, can be controlled or changed during a study-this variable(s) is independent of the other factors of the experiment. As the independent variable is changed, we’re tracking the dependent variable to see the effect of the change in the independent variable. So, the independent variable varies, and we track the change on the dependent variable. In this study, we have Time 1 where the participants answered the state self-esteem questionnaire after their self-report measures. We also have Time 2 where participants completed the state self-esteem questionnaire again after getting feedback from their peers. The dependent variable in this case is going to be state self-esteem. That state self-esteem is what was measured at different points of the study and different parts of the study were manipulated. Answer choice C is going to be the best answer. The number of questionnaires and the age of the participants was controlled. The ratings of anxiety and depression were measured once, without any independent variables controlled.

32) Something I want you to note is, this could be a question in a huge portion of the passages you’ll see on the exam. It’s imperative you understand the experiments and studies you come across, because the test-maker can give you questions that show you understand the purpose, design, variables, results, and conclusions of any study or experiment. For this particular question, we can go through the four answer choices and see which statement is accurate regarding the research design.

  1. Measures of state self-esteem allowed participants to act as their own controls. This answer choice is correct and it ties into the experimental setup and a little bit into Question 31. State self-esteem is the dependent variable in the study, and it’s reported by the participants. We’re told in the passage a Time 1 and Time 2 when the participants answered the state self-esteem questionnaire.
  2. State and trait self-esteem were assessed to investigate influences on peer evaluation. Trait self-esteem was not assessed. The author mentions that over time, individuals internalize the opinions of others into a fairly stable pattern of self-worth. This is the only mention of trait self-esteem in the passage or study. 
  3. The study’s design is longitudinal since state self-esteem was assessed at Time 1 and Time 2. Longitudinal research describes a research study that follows the population or group of interest at multiple, long time points. This was a fairly short period of time and we’re interested in state self-esteem, so this is not considered longitudinal.
  4. Participants were randomly assigned to the social anxiety and depressive symptoms groups. This is not true. The author tells us participants were first administered self-report measures to assess social anxiety and depressive symptoms. Answer choice A is going to remain our best option here. 

33) Piaget’s theory of cognitive development in childhood focused on four key stages from birth to young adulthood. It’s crucial you know these for test day and the corresponding ages and details. In this case, we know the participants in the study are 10-13 years old. 

  1. Concrete operational stage This corresponds to ages 7-11 years old. Like the name suggests, there’s now concrete thought and logical reasoning. Most of the children in the 10-13 year old range will have acquired this stage.
  2. Sensorimotor stage This corresponds to ages 0-2 years old, sometimes 0-1. It involves coordinate of senses with motor responses. We see object permanence. This is too young for what we’re looking for.
  3. Preoperational stage This corresponds to ages 2-7. Children start to talk and use symbolic thinking. This is also younger than the range we’re looking for. 
  4. Formal operational stage This corresponds to an age range of 12 years and older. This is when we see theoretical and hypothetical thinking. There are abstract thoughts and reasoning, strategy, and planning. While some participants are 12 years and older, not all of the participants have acquired formal operations. We can stick with answer choice D as our best answer choice.

34) This is essentially a content question that is asking the brain region that plays the biggest role in intense emotional responses. Let’s go through the four brain regions listed and see which one is most likely.

  1. Thalamus. The thalamus functions to relay motor and sensory signals to the cerebral cortex. It is not known to play a role in emotion.
  2. Cerebellum. The cerebellum is located underneath the backside of the cerebrum, and governs balance and fine motor movements. Its main function is maintaining coordination throughout the body, but it does not play a role in emotion.
  3. Amygdala The amygdala is a part of the brain located in the medial temporal lobe. It is believed to play a key role in emotion in both animals and humans. That is exactly what we’re looking for. The amygdala would be the brain region that would show advanced activation due to intense emotional response.
  4. Medulla oblongata. The medulla oblongata is responsible for autonomic functions, but does not play a role in emotion. Answer choice C is going to be our best answer. The amygdala plays a role in intense emotional reactions.

 

Exam 2 P/S Solutions: Passage 7

35) We can go back to the passage to determine what is preferred by 6- to 7-month-old infants in Study 2.

We want to pay close attention to the very end here. 6- to 7-month-old infants preferred novel perceptual stimuli. What does novel mean? New or unusual, so something they hadn’t seen before. We want to know which set of images is LEAST likely preferred by the 6- to 7-month old infants. They prefer novel perceptual stimuli, so they would LEAST likely prefer two images that were very similar. If we have the familiarization phase and test phase consist of similar images, these infants would not be happy! The only answer choice that matches this breakdown is going to be answer choice B. We can see the familiarization phase and the test phase both show two rows that look similar:

36) This question is going to involve taking bits of information from multiple parts of the passage. Study 1 tested the ability of 3- to 4-month-old infants in the United States to organize visual pattern information based on lightness and darkness. The results indicated that 3- to 4-month-old infants preferred novel perceptual stimuli. In Study 2, 3- to 4-month-old and 6- to 7-month-old infants in the United States were tested on their ability to organize visual pattern information based on form. In this case, 3- to 4-month-old infants demonstrated no preference for novel or familiar images, but 6- to 7-month-old infants preferred novel perceptual stimuli. Biggest takeaway from these results is that the younger infant group could organize visual pattern information based on lightness and darkness, but it was not until infants were 6- to 7-month-olds that they could organize visual pattern information based on form.

  1. Perceptual organization is innate and constant over time. This goes against what we see in the passage results. In Study 2, we saw that the 3- to 4-month-old infants demonstrated no preference for novel or familiar images, while the older infants did. This shows perceptual organization develops over time.
  2. Different types of perceptual organization become functional over time. This is exactly what we see in the passage. The younger infant group could organize visual pattern information based on lightness and darkness, but it was not until infants were 6- to 7-month-olds that they could organize visual pattern information based on form. This is going to be our best answer for the time being.
  3. Different types of perceptual organization cannot be reliably measured during infancy due to differences represented in the results. The study seemed to reliably measure different types of perceptual organization and gathered appropriate results. This answer contradicts what we read in the passage.
  4. Perceptual organization represented in the studies is mainly due to top-down processes. Top-down processing refers to how we interpret sensations due to influences from our available knowledge, experiences, and thoughts. The passage does not suggest this is true, and the infants are very young so this is not extremely likely.

37) Erikson’s Stages of Psychosocial Development are based on (and expand upon) Freud’s’s psychosexual theory. Erikson proposed that we are motivated by the need to achieve competence in certain areas of our lives. According to psychosocial theory, we experience eight stages of development over our lifespan, from infancy through late adulthood. We know we’re dealing with 3- to 4-month-old and 6- to 7-month-old infants in the United States which corresponds to the Trust vs. Mistrust stage. If you need to review the many stages, make sure to go to our content outline online and do so: jackwestin.com/resources/mcat-content/formation-of-identity/theories-of-identity-development

  1. Trust versus mistrust This is from birth to 12 months of age and matches the age range we’re looking for in this situation. This will be our correct answer.
  2. Competence versus inferiority This corresponds to ages 6-12 years
  3. Autonomy versus shame and doubt This corresponds to ages 1-3 years old
  4. Initiative versus guilt This corresponds to preschool age of 3-6 years. Best answer choice here will remain answer choice A.

38) For Freud, childhood experiences shape our personalities and behavior as adults. Freud viewed development as discontinuous; he believed that each of us must pass through a series of stages during childhood and that if we lack proper nurturing and parenting during a stage, we may become stuck in, or fixated on, that stage. According to Freud, children’s pleasure-seeking urges (governed by the id) are focused on a different area of the body, called an erogenous zone, at each of the five stages of development (Psychosexual Stages of Development): oral, anal, phallic, latency, and genital. We know we’re dealing with 3- to 4-month-old and 6- to 7-month-old infants in the United States which corresponds to the oral stage. If you need to review these five stages, make sure to go to our content outline online and do so: jackwestin.com/resources/mcat-content/formation-of-identity/theories-of-identity-development

  1. Phallic stage This corresponds to ages 3-6 years
  2. Latency stage This corresponds to ages 6-12 years
  3. Anal stage This corresponds to ages 1-3 years
  4. Oral stage This answer choice matches our breakdown. Oral stage is from 0-1 years of age. During this stage, the mouth is the pleasure center for development. Freud believed this is why infants are born with a sucking reflex and desire their mother’s breast. Answer choice D is our best answer.

 

Exam 2 P/S Solutions: Passage 8

39) These types of questions can be a little tricky. Groupthink is something we should know from our content review, but the test-make specifically says “based on the passage.” What I like to do in this situation is include my definition of groupthink, and mold it according to the passage. Theoretically, my definition and the key points presented by the author should not differ when we’re dealing with a common behavioral term. 

Groupthink is a psychological phenomenon that occurs within groups of people when the desire for harmony in a decision-making group overrides a realistic appraisal of alternatives. The members of the group try and minimize conflict and reach a consensus decision without critical evaluation of alternative ideas or viewpoints. In the passage, the author mentions some groupthink symptoms that are consistent with my definition. These include making more rationalizations, introducing fewer facts, and discussing risks less frequently.

  1. the faulty decisions that result when a powerful leader imposes his or her will on the group and overrides the wishes of the majority of the members. While some of the group members reported deference to the leader, this is not the definition of groupthink. Groupthink involves making more rationalizations, introducing fewer facts, and discussing risks less frequently. This does not include a leader imposing their will on the group.
  2. a style of decision-making that occurs when strangers are placed into decision-making groups and forced to make choices under time pressure. There is no mention of time pressure in the passage or in my definition. Groupthink in general happens when individuals are in a group and making decisions.
  3. the presence of conformity pressures and beliefs of superiority that lead decision-making groups to fail to critically evaluate their alternatives and options. This matches what we said in our breakdown. Everyone wants to minimize criticism and conflict so some more controversial alternatives and options are not visited. The group discussed risky options infrequently. Answer choice C is going to be our best option.
  4. a conscious decision-making strategy employed by groups tasked with making important policy decisions. Groupthink is not something that’s done consciously or employed by groups on purpose. Rather, groupthink naturally happens when individuals have to make decisions as a group. We can stick with answer choice C as the best definition of groupthink.

40) This question ties into what we just went over in Question 39. We said groupthink is a psychological phenomenon that occurs within groups of people when the desire for harmony in a decision-making group overrides a realistic appraisal of alternatives. The members of the group try and minimize conflict and reach a consensus decision without critical evaluation of alternative ideas or viewpoints. In the passage, the author mentions some groupthink symptoms that are consistent with my definition. These include making more rationalizations, introducing fewer facts, and discussing risks less frequently. If we can address these symptoms and causes of groupthink, we should be able to prevent groupthink. 

  1. Make certain that all decision-making groups are made up of groups of friends. While this may or may not help in other studies, we can see in this passage a group of friends is still susceptible to groupthink. There is some validity to this, however, as the interpersonal group had less groupthink tendencies. We still want a strategy to prevent groupthink.
  2. Whenever possible, avoid the selection of a group leader through popular vote. The leader may or may not have affected the group or the groupthink going on. We want a more obvious strategy here.
  3. Encourage a group norm of critical evaluation and dissent in decision-making. This would treat some of the symptoms and negative causes of groupthink. By taking some more risks and being critical, the group is less susceptible to groupthink. Answer choice C is going to be our best option so far.
  4. Require decision-making groups to verify that groupthink did not influence their decision. Groupthink is not something that is done consciously, and even if participants recognize there was pressure to agree and self-censorship, that does not mean groupthink can be prevented. Theoretically, this could make the individuals more aware of groupthink, but is not a viable strategy to prevent groupthink. Answer choice C is our best answer.

41) To answer this question, we can think back to the research design in Study 2. For the interpersonal condition, participants were recruited in existing four-person friendship groups, while for the social identity condition, participants were randomly assigned to four-person groups. The groups imagined they won a student election and were asked to do various tasks. The author brings up the findings in the final paragraph of the passage.

We want to find an alternative explanation for the findings. The alternative explanation shouldn’t contradict what the author reported in the passage, but rather offer a different way of thinking about the results.

  1. The leaders selected by the group may not have performed the task equally well. This may or may not have been true, but it does not explain why there was more groupthink among participants in the social identity condition groups versus the interpersonal condition groups.
  2. The social identity manipulation did not successfully create cohesiveness in the groups. It seems the opposite is true. The social identity groups went through the exercise of imagining they had just won a student electron and were able to discuss policies they endorse. They felt pressure to agree with one another as well. While the interpersonal condition groups may have been more cohesive, there is still cohesiveness in the social identity condition groups.
  3. Groupthink does not occur in groups making unimportant decisions such as closing a theater. This contradicts what we were told in the passage. Groupthink occurred in the passage, so answer choice C is a false statement within the context of this passage.
  4. The friends were more motivated to engage in the discussion than the groups of strangers. This implies friends addressed some of the groupthink symptoms that the social identity condition groups were more susceptible to: making more rationalizations, introducing fewer facts, and discussing risks less frequently. By actually engaging in discussion, the friends can reduce these groupthink symptoms. Answer choice D is going to be our best answer choice.

42) This is almost like a standalone question where we’re comparing vocabulary terms. We want to compare groupthink, which is something that occurs within groups of people, to an individual-level effect. We said groupthink is a psychological phenomenon that occurs within groups of people when the desire for harmony in a decision-making group overrides a realistic appraisal of alternatives. The members of the group try and minimize conflict and reach a consensus decision without critical evaluation of alternative ideas or viewpoints. We want to define our four answer choices and note which individual-level effect is most similar to groupthink:

  1. Self-serving bias Self-serving bias is the tendency of individuals to make internal attributions when their actions have a positive outcome but external attributions when their actions have a negative outcome. Groupthink does not focus as much on internal versus external factors and their influence.
  2. Confirmation bias This exists when a person tends to look for information that supports their idea or approach instead of looking at new information that may contradict their approach or ideas. This is similar to groupthink because individuals in a group will try to avoid conflict and any new information that might contradict someone else’s idea. Answer choice B is a great answer here.
  3. Hindsight bias Hindsight bias is the belief that the event just experienced was predictable. Groupthink doesn’t involve a group “knowing” something was going to happen. Answer choice B remains the best answer.
  4. Response bias This involves responding inaccurately or falsely to questions. This is not what we see in groupthink. Answer choice B is going to remain the best option.

 

Exam 2 P/S Solutions: Questions 43-46

43) This is a standalone question that relies entirely on our general knowledge. Note the author says “most often linked” so we don’t have to worry about absolutes here which tends to come up when discussing left and right cerebral hemispheres. 

The human brain is composed of a right and a left hemisphere, and each participates in different aspects of brain function. A longitudinal fissure separates the human brain into two distinct cerebral hemispheres connected by the corpus callosum. The two sides resemble each other and each hemisphere’s structure is generally mirrored by the other side. Despite the strong anatomical similarities, the functions of each cortical hemisphere are distinct. Broad generalizations are often made in popular psychology about one hemisphere having a broad label, such as “logical” for the left side or “creative” for the right. 

  1. Visuospatial skills The processing of visual stimuli, spatial manipulation, facial perception, and artistic ability are represented bilaterally, but may show right-hemisphere dominance.
  2. Music perception Music perception tends to be more associated with the right hemisphere.
  3. Vocabulary skills Language functions such as grammar, vocabulary and literal meaning are typically lateralized to the left hemisphere, especially in right-handed individuals. This is a strong answer choice.
  4. Emotion processing This is a broad generalization, but the right hemisphere is known to be linked with emotional processing, specifically negative emotions. We can stick with answer choice C. Vocabulary skills are lateralized to the left hemisphere.

44) This question is asking about an explanation that is all too familiar for premed and medical students! We can define all four memory constructs and note which one explains why studying material right before sleep will perform better on a recall measure the next morning the individuals who watch something after studying.

  1. Misinformation Misinformation involves false or inaccurate information. This is not why the first group performed better. There was no misinformation from the movie.
  2. Primacy There is often a primacy effect in which the items that were presented first are recalled well as they have already been encoded into long-term memory. This is not what we’re seeing in the results in the question stem.
  3. Spreading activation Spreading activation is a theory proposed that relates storage of memories to the activation of a series of nodes. These nodes create an activation pattern of other related nodes and this is how singular events are remembered. For example, at the mention of the color red and the word “vehicle,” two nodes that may be activated at the same time to relate a personal memory of a car they owned, or a fire truck. This is not what is happening here and would not provide an explanation for the results. 
  4. Interference All memories interfere with the ability to recall other memories. After studying, the second group watches a movie and additional memories are made. The memory of the movie interferes with performance on the recall measure. Answer choice D is our best answer.

45) We’re given a specific example here where individuals delay gratification to instead get long-term rewards. We want to know which type of intelligence is involved in this decision. We’ll go through the four different types of intelligence presented to us. We can define each and find the intelligence type that is described in the question stem.

  1. Analytical Analytical intelligence involves completing academic problems and problem-solving tasks. This is what we traditionally think of when we think of what we tested in school or on a math test. The question stem is describing more of an emotional problem than an analytical problem.
  2. Creative Creative intelligence involves dealing with novel problems and situations with a fresh solution. This has more to do with being innovative and intellectually flexible than dealing with the emotion of delaying gratification.
  3. Interpersonal Interpersonal intelligence involves understanding and interacting with other people. This is out of scope here. Interpersonal intelligence does not affect delaying gratification in this case.
  4. Emotional Emotional intelligence is the ability, capacity, or skill to perceive, assess, and manage the emotions of oneself, of others, and groups. This is exactly what happens when we delay gratification in pursuit of long-term rewards. We’re emotional and want something immediately, but we must delay this gratification for an even greater reward in the future. Emotional intelligence allows us to do this. Answer choice D is our best answer.

46) This is something I think you should be looking to identify in any study you see on the MCAT. For this question, we’re given only a sentence about the research, but knowing the ins and outs of these studies really helps you understand the big picture in every passage. This is something that can be used in every section of the exam. There are typically independent and dependent variables in every study or experimental passage. We need to identify both, and more importantly, we have to understand their relationship. An independent variable, just like its name suggests, can be controlled or changed during a study-this variable(s) is independent of the other factors of the experiment. As the independent variable is changed, we’re tracking the dependent variable to see the effect of the change in the independent variable. So, the independent variable varies, and we track the change on the dependent variable.

In escape learning, an individual learns to perform a behavior to stop an aversive stimulus. It’s not full avoidance, but rather gives the individual the ability to escape. In this question, the dependent variable is the measure of escape learning.

  1. Having the participants fill out a validated questionnaire that screens for anxiety disorders. Anxiety disorders in this study are not the dependent variable. The questionnaire can be helpful because it tells the researcher if the participant has anxiety, but we’re looking to assess the dependent variable which we said is the measure of escape learning.
  2. Having a trained practitioner assess the participants for anxiety disorders Reasoning here is going to be the same as answer choice A. Anxiety disorders in this study are not the dependent variable. The practitioner’s assessment can be helpful because it tells the researchers if the participant has anxiety, but we’re looking to assess the dependent variable which we said is the measure of escape learning.
  3. Monitoring how many trials it takes for participants to avoid a response that results in an electric shock when the electric shock is signaled with a tone. This is a detail I touched on in the breakdown of the question. There is a slight difference between escape and avoidance. Escape learning would involve a way to stop the shock from happening when it happens. Avoidance involves actively avoiding the shock in the first place. 
  4. Monitoring how many trials it takes for participants to be conditioned to perform a response that results in the termination of an electric shock. This matches our breakdown perfectly. We said in escape learning, an individual learns to perform a behavior to stop an aversive stimulus. In this case, the individual is performing a response that allows them to “escape” from the effects of this electric shock. Answer choice D is going to be our best answer.

 

Exam 2 P/S Solutions: Passage 9

47) The author tells us in the passage that researchers genetically engineered mice with altered expression of the genes coding for the β-amyloid (Aβ) and neurofibrillary tangle (NFT) proteins. When we get to Figure 1 later in the passage, we also notice these mice with modified genes have higher levels of freezing (a character in AD). 

We can relate AD with β-amyloid and neurofibrillary tangle proteins. We know Alzheimer’s disease is a neurodegenerative disease named after Alois Alzheimer. Along with his colleagues, Alzheimer examined a woman’s brain following her death and reported the presence of abnormal clumps, which are now called amyloid plaques, along with tangled brain fibers called neurofibrillary tangles. Amyloid plaques, neurofibrillary tangles, and an overall shrinking of brain volume are commonly seen in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients. We expect the genetically modified mice will have higher expression levels of Aβ and NFT.

  1. Higher expression levels of both Aβ and NFT in the brain regions examined in the study. This answer choice is consistent with our breakdown of the question. We covered the key points and the relationship between AD and levels of Aβ and NFT. The genetically modified mice will have higher expression levels of Aβ and NFT.
  2. Lower expression levels of both Aβ and NFT in the brain regions examined in the study. This is the opposite of our breakdown. We expect genetically modified mice will have higher expression levels of Aβ and NFT, not lower. 
  3. Lower expression levels of Aβ, but higher expression levels of NFT in the brain regions examined in the study. Amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles are commonly seen in the brains of AD patients. We expect a higher expression of both Aβ and NFT.
  4. Higher expression levels of Aβ, but lower expression levels of NFT in the brain regions examined in the study. Amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles are commonly seen in the brains of AD patients. We expect a higher expression of both Aβ and NFT. We can stick with answer choice A as our best option.

48) This question is also relying on us knowing exactly what is going on in the study. So many AAMC passages revolve around studies and experiment. It’s imperative to know what’s going on at all times. We’re dealing with classical conditioning here. Classical conditioning is a form of learning whereby a conditioned stimulus (which we’re looking to identify) becomes associated with an unrelated unconditioned stimulus to produce a behavioral response known as a conditioned response. The unconditioned stimulus is usually a biologically significant stimulus such as food or pain that elicits an unconditioned response from the start. The conditioned stimulus is typically neutral and produces no particular response at first, but after conditioning, it elicits the conditioned response.

In this study, the conditioned stimulus is light and is paired with the unconditioned stimulus, foot shock. Ultimately, the conditioned responses is freezing and the induced fear.

  1. encenicline. Encenicline is the acetylcholine agonist, but is not related to the conditioning going on in the study. 
  2. the foot shock. The foot shock in this study is going to be the unconditioned stimulus.
  3. the light. The light in this study is the conditioned stimulus. Answer choice C is going to be our best answer.
  4. freezing behavior. We mentioned in our breakdown that the freezing behavior is the conditioned response, not the conditioned stimulus. Answer choice C remains the best answer choice.

49) This question ties directly into our previous question. We can review that necessary information here. Classical conditioning is a form of learning whereby a conditioned stimulus becomes associated with an unrelated unconditioned stimulus to produce a behavioral response known as a conditioned response. The unconditioned stimulus is usually a biologically significant stimulus such as food or pain that elicits an unconditioned response from the start. The conditioned stimulus is typically neutral and produces no particular response at first, but after conditioning, it elicits the conditioned response. In classical conditioning, the first phase of learning is known as acquisition, when an organism learns to connect a neutral stimulus and an unconditioned stimulus. During acquisition, the neutral stimulus begins to elicit the conditioned response, and eventually, the neutral stimulus becomes a conditioned stimulus capable of eliciting the conditioned response by itself. We want an answer choice that focuses on acquisition.

  1. discrimination. Discrimination involves the ability to respond differently to similar stimuli.
  2. acquisition. This is the period of initial learning in classical conditioning in which a human or an animal begins to connect a neutral stimulus and an unconditioned stimulus so that the neutral stimulus will begin to elicit the conditioned response. That’s exactly what we’re looking for here. Answer choice B is a strong answer.
  3. shaping. Conditioning or shaping is what’s happening to the behavior of the mice. Shaping involves a calculated reinforcement of a “target behavior.” Answer choice B remains superior.
  4. generalization. This involves demonstrating the conditioned response to stimuli that are similar to the conditioned stimulus. Not what we expect in the first phase. Answer choice B is our best answer.

50) This is something I think you should be looking to identify in any study you see on the MCAT. For this question, we’re given only a sentence about the research, but knowing the ins and outs of these studies really helps you understand the big picture in every passage. This is something that can be used in every section of the exam. There are typically independent and dependent variables in every study or experimental passage. We need to identify both, and more importantly, we have to understand their relationship. An independent variable, just like its name suggests, can be controlled or changed during a study-this variable(s) is independent of the other factors of the experiment. That’s what we’re looking to identify in this particular study. As this independent variable is changed, we’re tracking the dependent variable to see the effect of the change in the independent variable. So, the independent variable varies, and we track the change on the dependent variable. Let’s go through our four options and identify an independent variable with this definition in mind.

  1. Aβ versus NFT proteins. The genetically engineered mice had altered expression of the genes coding for both the Aβ and NFT proteins, not only one. 
  2. spatial memory versus no spatial memory. Spatial memory was tested, but not in relation to no spatial memory. 
  3. saline versus encenicline. This answer choice is a promising one. In Figure 1, we see the percentage of time spent freezing in control and genetically modified mice treated with saline or encenicline. We can control or change the saline/encenicline, meaning they are independent variables by our definition. Answer choice C is our best answer.
  4. fear conditioning versus no fear conditioning. This was not something that was controlled in this specific study. There was only fear conditioning in this particular passage. We can eliminate this answer choice. Answer choice C is an example of an independent variable in the study.

51) This is a question that I would like to re-word to make a bit more straightforward. Not only can I put it in my own words, I can also relate it to my external knowledge that we’ll likely need to answer this question. We expect the genetically modified mice will have higher expression levels of Aβ and NFT. Aβ, NFT, and an overall shrinking of brain volume are commonly seen in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients. In other words, this question is asking for which observation we would NOT see in the brain of an Alzheimer’s patient. 

  1. Increased synaptic connections between neurons. Aβ and NFT are commonly seen in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients. Loss of neurons in the hippocampus is especially severe in advanced Alzheimer’s patients. Fewer synaptic connections is a sign of Alzheimer’s, so we do not expect increased synaptic connections between neurons. Answer choice A is a good answer choice.
  2. Malfunction of transporting nutrients along axons. This statement is something we would expect to see in an examination of the brains. We have axonal degradation in Alzheimer’s, so this is going to be an incorrect answer. 
  3. Extracellular aggregation of neurofibrillary tangles. This ties into our breakdown of the question. We expect the genetically modified mice to have higher expression levels of NFT. NFTs would accumulate within the cell and eventually in the extracellular space. That makes this an incorrect answer choice.
  4. Increased expression of apoptotic markers. This also ties into what we see in AD. Additional atrophy and additional apoptotic markers are consistent with AD, which is the opposite of what we are looking for to answer this question. We can stick with answer choice A as our correct answer.  

52) 

  1. Randomized. We have to be careful to pick an actual type of research design. Randomized can be considered an element of different types of research design, and even in this study, but it is not typically considered a research design in itself.
  2. Correlational. Correlational research involves measuring variables and their relationship. In this experiment we have an independent variable that is being controlled, but we’re not only looking at correlations between variables.
  3. Experimental. This matches what we’re looking for. Scientists used variables to get to their findings. As the independent variables are changed, we’re tracking the dependent variable to see the effect of the change in the independent variables. Answer choice C is a good answer choice. 
  4. Double-blind. In a double-blind study, researchers are trying to prevent bias by not allowing participants or experimenters know who is receiving which treatment. This can be helpful, but this is not the specific type of research design using in this study. We can stick with answer choice C as our best option.

 

Exam 2 P/S Solutions: Passage 10

53) CBT in this passage is a weekly hour-long cognitive-behavioral therapy program that lasted eight weeks. That author mentions CBT included discussion of good health practices and decision-making processes. Let’s give some background.

According to the theory that drives cognitive-behavioral therapy, the way a person thinks has a huge impact on what she or he says and does. this school of thought discusses the interplay among emotion, behavior, language, and thought. Since internal dialogue is a form of language, the way we speak to ourselves can influence our daily lives. Problems with our internal dialogue, known as cognitive distortions, can lead to negative behaviors or serious emotional problems. Let’s use the definition and what we’re told in the passage to find the best answer choice.

  1. examining personal histories for the causal mechanism behind behavior. This is something that can be beneficial, but it’s not the entirety of CBT. The participants should find the causal mechanism behind their smoking, but there should be practices and processes put into play to modify future behavior. 
  2. associating negative states with unwanted behavior. This is another helpful practice, but not the entirety of CBT. It is helpful for the participants to recognize negative states are associated with smoking, but there’s no mention here of modifying practices or decision-making processes.
  3. observation of others in order to model effective and healthy behaviors. This is more observational learning or modeling. This can be effective in some cases, but we’re asked specifically about CBT. 
  4. systematic modification of individual behavior and self-assessments. This is exactly what CBT is attempting to do. We’re told CBT includes discussion of good health practices and decision-making processes. These are meant to modify behavior. The individual learns to assess the cause of their behavior, but also modifying behavior positively. Answer choice D is going to be our best answer. 

54) First thing we’re going to do is define structural functionalism. Structural functionalism sees society as a complex system whose parts work together to promote solidarity, stability, and equilibrium. A structural functionalist looks at things from a macro perspective and considers society as a complex system; they do not account for individuals. However, we’re interested in how this structural functionalist would interpret yoga as part of a smoking cessation therapy. Smoking cessation sounds like a latent function to a structural functionalist, meaning an indirect consequence of yoga.

  1. Yoga provides an alternate understanding of healthful practices that enables the individual to better understand his or her personal needs and motives. This sounds more like symbolic interactionism which relies in interpretations and assigning meaning to things. In this case, yoga allows the individual to understand his or her needs and motives better and leads to cessation of smoking. The thinking seems reasonable, but this would likely come from a symbolic interactionist than a structural functionalist. 
  2. Yoga provides an inexpensive therapy option for those lacking the financial resources necessary for more expensive medical interventions. This sounds like it would come from a conflict theorist. Conflict theory is a way of studying society by focusing on inequality between different groups. A conflict theorist sees social life as a competition and focuses on the distribution of resources and power between these groups. Not what a structural functionalist would say.
  3. The utility of yoga as an effective smoking cessation therapy stems from the transformation of the individual’s self-concept as a nonsmoker. This actually sounds similar to answer choice A. The individual now understands and interprets themselves as a nonsmoker. Yoga is a tool that serves this understanding and is consistent with this interpretation. This is not likely something a structural functionalist would think, however.
  4. The utility of yoga as an effective smoking cessation therapy is an unintended, though beneficial, outcome of a yoga practice. As I mentioned in the breakdown, smoking cessation sounds like an indirect consequence of yoga. This sounds like a latent function to a structural functionalist. A latent function is an unintended or indirect consequence. This reasoning is consistent with a structural functionalist. We can stick with answer choice D as our best answer.

55) Medicalization is the effort to describe a type of behavior as a symptom of an underlying illness that should be treated by a doctor. For example, there is an increasing effort to medicalize addiction (including addiction to smoking) and treat it as a disease of the brain. We want a statement that is consistent with this description of a smoker’s behavior.

  1. Smoking is a personal behavior that can be adjusted through individual behavior modification. This is the opposite of what we’re expecting. Medicalization involves considering behaviors that weren’t previously medical conditions as medical conditions. Medical conditions aren’t always treated through behavioral modification. 
  2. Smoking is an unhealthy behavior that is structurally managed via legislation to reduce overall smoking rates. Making smoking a legal issue does not mean we classify smoking and addiction as a medical condition.
  3. Smoking is an addictive behavior that can be treated via the use of pharmaceutical intervention. This is consistent with the medicalization of smoking and smoking cessation. Medicalization is the effort to describe a type of behavior as a symptom of an underlying illness that should be treated by a doctor which is exactly what is being done via the use of pharmaceutical intervention. Answer choice C is a good answer.
  4. Smoking is a public health issue that is socially desirable to mitigate through smoking cessation programs. Public health involves prevention and positive lifestyle changes. These are great benefits, but this does not reflect the medicalization of smoking and smoking cessation. Answer choice C is going to be our best answer.

56) We can review the research design used in the study and go through each of the techniques listed in our answer choices. We have to be careful with the verbiage here. Three of the answer choices list techniques that were employed in the research design, but we’re looking for the one that was NOT.

  1. observational. Observational research involves studying subjects in non-experimental settings and without the changing of variables. In this study we had an experimental condition and a control condition that were compared. This was not observational in nature. This is going to be a good answer choice.
  2. correlational. Correlational research involves measuring variables and their relationship. Throughout the study the researchers were measuring and comparing variables. This technique was utilized in the study.
  3. experimental. Researchers utilized variables to get to their findings. As the independent variables are changed, we’re tracking the dependent variable to see the effect of the change in the independent variables. This ties into what we’ve already talked about with answers A and B. This technique was utilized in the study.
  4. longitudinal. Longitudinal research describes a research study that follows the population or group of interest at multiple, extended time points. The researchers measured subjects at three and six-month assessments as well as the initial post-treatment measurement. This technique was utilized in the study. Only answer choice A was not utilized, so answer choice A is our best answer. 

 

Exam 2 P/S Solutions: Questions 57-59

57) First thing we want to do here is break down what we know about correlations. A correlation test measures whether, and how two variables are related. A positive correlation (with a correlation coefficient >0, <1) indicates that as one variable changes, the other variable changes in the same direction. A negative correlation (with a correlation coefficient <0, >-1) indicates that as one variable changes, the other variable moves in the opposite direction. In this case, we have a fairly strong negative correlation. As alcohol consumption increases, internal locus of control decreases. As alcohol consumption decreases, internal locus of control increases. Locus of control is the extent to which someone believes they control the events that affect them.

  1. High alcohol consumption behavior is strongly associated with people perceiving that they control their own fate. This is the opposite of our breakdown. Alcohol consumption is inversely related to people perceiving that they control their own fate. 
  2. High alcohol consumption behavior is strongly associated with people perceiving that chance or outside forces control their fate. This is consistent with our breakdown. Alcohol consumption is inversely related to people perceiving that they control their own fate. In other words, high alcohol consumption is strongly correlated to people perceiving they do not control their own fate. This answer choice is consistent with our breakdown.
  3. High alcohol consumption behavior causes people to perceive that chance or outside forces determine their fate. We have to be careful here. High alcohol consumption is not the cause of people perceiving they control their own fate or that chance or outside forces determine their fate. There’s a big difference between causation and correlation. 
  4. High alcohol consumption behavior is weakly associated with people perceiving that they control their own fate. We mentioned the -0.82 correlation is fairly strong. Best answer here is going to be high alcohol consumption behavior is strongly associated with people perceiving that chance or outside forces control their fate. Answer choice D might be a distant second-best answer. We’ll stick with the most likely conclusion from the findings: Answer choice B. 

58) This is something a lot of us can relate to! Even when we don’t try to do this, sometimes it’s natural to be more attentive and focused when we know we’re being observed, like in this case. We’ll go through the four concepts listed as answer choices and see which one best describes the phenomenon described in the question stem.

  1. Impression management. This is the process of consciously making behavioral choices in order to create a specific impression in the minds of others.
  2. The Hawthorne effect. This refers to individuals acting differently and modifying their behavior when they know they are being observed. This is exactly what is happening in the question stem. These students are aware they are being observed by the researcher, so they are more attentive, focused, and structured. Answer choice B is going to be our best option for the time being.
  3. Self-fulfilling prophecy. This refers to a phenomenon in which the expectations of a person or event unknowingly influence outcomes, leading the realization of those expectations. This does not describe what’s happening in the question stem. Answer choice B remains the best option.
  4. The Thomas theorem. This is typically said as, “if men define situations as real, they are real in their consequences.” Essentially, the outcome depends on the way a situation is interpreted, not the actual situation itself. This is also not what’s being described in the question stem. Answer choice B is going to be our best option.

59) In this case, the individual’s income does not change much, despite losing his job. We want to explain this situation in terms of social mobility.

  1. Exchange mobility. Exchange mobility suggests classes maintain a relatively static number of people. For example, if one individual moves up a class, a different individual will exchange and compensate for this by moving down. The relative number of people per class is not expected to fluctuate. That does not describe what is going on in the question stem as the individual maintains a similar income level. 
  2. Horizontal mobility. Horizontal mobility is the movement from one position to another within the same social level, as when someone changes between two equally prestigious occupations or within the same pay grade. This is exactly what happens to the individual in the question stem. This is a great answer.
  3. Downward mobility. Vertical mobility is the movement of individuals or groups up or down from one socioeconomic level to another, often by changing jobs or through marriage. Downward mobility in this case would be moving downward in socioeconomic level, which is not the case. The individual in the question stem does not see income change. 
  4. Upward mobility. Vertical mobility is the movement of individuals or groups up or down from one socioeconomic level to another, often by changing jobs or through marriage. Upward mobility in this case would be moving upward in socioeconomic level, which is not the case. The individual in the question stem does not see income change. Answer choice B is going to be our best answer.


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