Exam 4 P/S Solutions: Passage 1
1) This is a passage-based question that relies on us going back to the passage to pick out some key information. The author tells us in Paragraph 1, “In lexical decision tasks which ask participants to decide whether a string of letters is a word, Ps respond similarly to emotional and non-emotional words, whereas controls tend to respond more quickly to emotional words.” Quick glance at our answer choices shows we’re seeing average reaction time along the y-axis. We’re comparing the reaction time to emotional vs. non-emotional words for the Ps and controls groups. Based on what we learned from the passage, for the Ps group we expect the average reaction time to be roughly the same for emotional and non-emotional words. For the Controls, we expect the average reaction time to be shorter for emotional words and longer for non-emotional words.
- Answer choice A reverses what we said in the breakdown. We expect the Ps group to show little difference in average reaction time between emotional words and non-emotional words. We expect the average reaction time to be shorter for emotional words and longer for non-emotional words.
- Answer choice B shows both groups having quicker reaction times to emotional words. While this is consistent with what we know about the Controls, this is not what we expect from the Ps group.
- This answer choice correctly shows a similar reaction time to both sets of words for the Ps group. However, it incorrectly lists average reaction time as longer for emotional words for the Controls. We expect the opposite to be true for the Controls
- This answer choice matches our breakdown exactly. For the Ps group we expect the average reaction time to be roughly the same for emotional and non-emotional words. For the Controls, we expect the average reaction time to be shorter for emotional words and longer for non-emotional words. Answer choice D is going to be our best answer choice.
2) This question is tangentially related to the passage. In Paragraph 2, the author mentions that Ps were much less likely than controls to inhibit responses and to acquire avoidance learning. We want an experimental procedure that helps look into this. How can researchers test how Ps perform versus controls in various types of operant conditioning? We’ll have to define these terms. Ultimately our answer is going to involve comparing the Ps and controls in some way. We’re focused on 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.
Avoidance learning is the process by which an individual learns a behavior or response to avoid a stressful or unpleasant situation. The behavior is to avoid, or to remove oneself from, the situation. The reinforcement for the behavior is to not experience the negative punishment, but rather experience the absence of punishment.
- on a word-learning task in which they receive a monetary reward every time they provide the correct response. This answer choice describes operant conditioning. The participants are asked to provide a correct response and reinforcement follows.
- on a task that requires watching a model perform a series of physical actions and repeating them in the correct order. This answer choice does not describe operant conditioning, but rather observational learning. 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. Answer choice A remains superior.
- in a procedure in which the participants are presented with a light followed by a drop of lemon juice in their mouths which elicits salivation. This answer choice describes classical conditioning. Classical conditioning is learning in which the stimulus or experience occurs before the behavior and then gets paired or associated with the behavior.
- in a procedure in which the participants are presented with a word list and tested on their recall two days later. This answer choice is asking participants to use their memory to recall words. Recall is information retrieved from memories. We can stick to answer choice A as our best answer choice.
3) Just like the other questions we’ve gone through in this set, this is a passage-based question that relies on us going back to the passage to pick out key information. The author highlights these key differences in Paragraph 1:
The controls had an involuntary increase in moisture (sweating) which means increased skin conductivity. This is an indication of psychological and physiological arousal. This involuntary sweating is stimulated by the sympathetic nervous system (SNS). The SNS is perhaps best known for mediating the neuronal and hormonal stress response commonly known as the fight-or-flight response. The SNS controls the body’s automatic response to danger, increasing the heart rate, dilating the blood vessels, slowing digestion, and moving blood flow to the heart, muscles, and brain. This ties into the startle response when presented with fear-inducing pictures. Participants in the Ps group are less likely to exhibit that startle response compared to controls.
- sympathetic nervous system arousal. This answer choice is consistent with our breakdown of the question. The SNS controls the body’s automatic response to danger, increasing the heart rate, dilating the blood vessels, slowing digestion, and moving blood flow to the heart, muscles, and brain. We said this explains the differences between Ps and controls when anticipating aversive events and viewing fear-inducing pictures.
- somatic nervous system arousal. Somatic nervous system is the part of the peripheral nervous system that transmits signals from the central nervous system to skeletal muscle and from receptors of external stimuli to the central nervous system, thereby mediating sight, hearing, and touch. This is not the difference in the two groups.
- parietal cortex activation. Parietal cortex controls somatic or voluntary sensory functions. This is an inferior answer choice to option A.
- occipital cortex activation. Occipital cortex controls vision. Answer choice A remains our best answer choice.
4) This question is similar to our previous questions in that we’ll revisit the passage for key information. We’re asked about the numbers presented to the participants in the avoidance study:
Five numbers were associated with a reward, while five were associated with electric shock. Within the context of avoidance learning, what do these numbers represent?
- reinforcers. Reinforcement and punishment are principles of operant conditioning that increase or decrease the likelihood of a behavior. Reinforcement means you are increasing a behavior: it is any consequence or outcome that increases the likelihood of a particular behavioral response. This sounds more like the monetary incentive. This is not what the numbers function as in this case.
- punishers. Reinforcement and punishment are principles of operant conditioning that increase or decrease the likelihood of a behavior. Punishment means you are decreasing a behavior: it is any consequence or outcome that decreases the likelihood of a behavioral response. This sounds like the electric shock. This is not what the numbers function as in this case.
- discriminating stimuli. When an organism learns to respond differently to various stimuli that are similar, it is called stimulus discrimination. The numbers represent discriminating stimuli. The participants were presented with numbers, but they had to respond correctly in order to receive the monetary incentive. Participants had to discriminate between stimuli so this is a strong answer choice.
- unconditioned stimuli. An unconditioned stimulus is a stimulus that elicits a reflexive response. The numbers do not represent an unconditioned stimulus that elicits a reflexive response. Instead the numbers function as discriminating stimuli. Answer choice C is our best option.
Exam 4 P/S Solutions: Passage 2
5) This is a passage-based question that relies on us going back to the passage to pick out key information. The author actually makes our lives easier in this question because we’re actually told where in the passage we’ll be focusing our attention.
The author explains that individuals’ beliefs regarding whether their behaviors will lead to positive and negative outcomes also motivate behavior. Social-cognitive theories of personality emphasize the role of cognitive processes, such as thinking and judging, in the development of personality. We want to know if this is consistent with a traditional behaviorist approach.
A behaviorist will regard an individuals’ actions as ultimately being responses to external stimuli, driven by outcomes. A traditional behaviorist perspective sees outcomes, and not cognition, as the drive behind an individual’s choices and behaviors. Social learning theory believes that personality and behavior are determined by an individual’s cognition about the world around them. Ultimately, the behaviorist perspective is concerned with how environmental factors affect observable behavior. Beliefs fall under mental processes which are inconsistent with a traditional behaviorist approach. We’re looking for an answer that says the role of beliefs is inconsistent with a traditional behaviorist approach.
- Yes, because the traditional behaviorist approach also emphasizes changes in behavior due to desirable and undesirable outcomes. We mentioned in the breakdown of the question, we’re looking for an answer that says the role of beliefs is inconsistent with a traditional behaviorist approach. Beliefs fall under mental processes which are inconsistent with a traditional behaviorist approach. The traditional behaviorist approach suggests outcomes determine behavior.
- Yes, because the traditional behaviorist approach holds that repeated exposure to certain outcomes shapes beliefs regarding these outcomes. Similar to answer choice A, we mentioned in the breakdown of the question, we’re looking for an answer that says the role of beliefs is inconsistent with a traditional behaviorist approach. Beliefs fall under mental processes which are inconsistent with a traditional behaviorist approach. Both answer choices A and B are not strong answers.
- No, because the traditional behaviorist approach holds that mental states are involved only in classical conditioning, not operant conditioning. This answer choice starts as a better choice than answers A and B. Classical conditioning occurs when an appropriate response to a stimulus becomes conditioned to respond to another associated stimulus. Operant conditioning is a theory of learning that focuses on changes in an individual’s observable behaviors. SCT talks about mental states motivating behaviors which is inconsistent with the traditional behaviorist approach.
- No, because the traditional behaviorist approach holds that actual outcomes determine behavior, not cognitions regarding potential outcomes. This answer choice is consistent with our breakdown. SCT emphasizes the role of cognitive processes like thinking and beliefs in the development of personality. Alternatively, the behaviorist perspective is concerned with how environmental factors affect observable behavior.
6) Our approach to this question is going to be similar to our approach to the previous question. This is a passage-based question that relies on us going back to the passage to pick out key information, but ultimately, we’ll need to rely on knowing our vocabulary to answer this question correctly. We can keep Paragraph 4 in mind as we go through each term. Paragraph 4 is when the author explains self-determination theory (SDT). The author mentions controlled behaviors are due to pressure from social contacts (external motivation). Extrinsically motivated behaviors are performed in order to receive something from others—such as a promotion, praise, candy, money, or attention. Extrinsic motivation is therefore a broader term that can actually include external motivation.
- is a broader term that includes external motivation. This answer choice matches our breakdown of the question. We said extrinsically motivated behaviors are performed in order to receive something from others. That can be in addition to appeasing social contacts. That pressure from social contacts falls under the umbrella of extrinsic motivators, but there are additional motivators.
- is a narrower term that refers to external reinforcers. This is the opposite of our breakdown. We said extrinsically motivated behaviors are performed in order to receive something from others. That includes external motivation, so extrinsic motivation is a broader term, not a narrower term.
- excludes social punishers and reinforcers. Reinforcement and punishment are principles of operant conditioning that increase or decrease the likelihood of a behavior. This also falls under extrinsic motivation.
- excludes internal states that direct behavior. This is not something that is different about external motivation versus extrinsic motivation. Internal states are excluded from both. We can stick with answer choice A as our best answer.
7) At first glance, this is like a hybrid question in that we’ll have to reference some key information from the passage, but ultimately, we’ll use our external information to answer the question. The author tells us in Paragraph 4, “Healthcare professionals can increase autonomous motivation by supporting their patients’ initiatives and offering them different choices for treatment.” We want to find a statement that best applies Roger’s concept of incongruence to this suggestion. Carl Rogers believed that people strive to become self-actualized—the “best version” of themselves or “ideal self”. The gap between the “ideal” self and the real self can cause discomfort, unpleasant feelings, and lead to defensive behaviors – this gap is called incongruence.
- By encouraging their patients’ initiative, healthcare professionals motivate their patients to reduce the gap in their need for self-actualization. Incongruence is the gap between the “real” and “ideal” self that can cause discomfort or unpleasant feelings. This does not have to do with the need for self-actualization.
- By giving their patients options, healthcare professionals make it possible for their patients to reduce the gap between their actual behavior and their expected behavior. Reasoning here is going to be similar to answer choice A. Incongruence is the gap between the “real” and “ideal” self that can cause discomfort; incongruence does not have to do with actual behavior versus expected behavior.
- By encouraging the patients’ initiative, healthcare professionals motivate their patients to reduce the gap between their behaviors and their attitudes. This answer choice is similar to answer choices A and B. Incongruence is the gap between the “real” and “ideal” self that can cause discomfort, but does not refer to a gap between behavior and attitude.
- By giving their patients options, healthcare professionals offer their patients ways to reduce the gap between their ideal selves and their actual selves. Bingo, this is exactly what we’ve been looking for. Incongruence is the gap between the “real” and “ideal” self that can cause discomfort. Healthcare professionals offering options to their patients allows for patients to reduce incongruence. Answer choice D is our best option.
8) To answer this question, we’ll have to think about where in the passage the author talks about autonomous motivation. The passage talks about self-determination theory and its focus on autonomous motivation in Paragraph 4. We’re told, “Autonomous motivation refers to self-initiating behaviors that are tied to one’s values and goals.” This is different than controlled behaviors which are performed due to pressure from social contacts or internal psychological pressures like guilt or fear. We’re also told autonomous motivation is more likely to lead to long-term adherence to treatment.
- The desire to reach one’s goals creates a drive that individuals are motivated to fulfill. This is consistent with what we read in the passage. Autonomous motivation refers to self-initiating behaviors that are tied to one’s values and goals. The desire to reach these goals creates the drive that individuals are motivated to fulfill. This is a strong answer choice.
- Living a life consistent with one’s values is socially reinforced. Autonomous motivation has to do with self-initiating behaviors that are tied to one’s values and goals. Answer choice B is out of scope when talking about autonomous motivation.
- Individuals are motivated to perform behaviors that result in appetitive internal states. Autonomous motivation involves self-initiating behaviors that are tied to one’s values and goals. The result of autonomous motivation is not appetitive internal states, it’s actually engaging in behavior that is self-determined and consistent with intrinsic goals.
- Individuals are reinforced to perform behaviors that are associated with progress. Autonomous motivation is more focused on initial drives and self-initiating behaviors, not end goals that involve reinforcing individuals to perform behaviors associated with progress. Answer choice A is going to be our best answer choice here.
Exam 4 P/S Solutions: Questions 9-12
9) What a frustrating situation! We’re told researchers are testing a new cancer drug that they deem effective, but other scientists cannot replicate the findings. We want to explain a possible reason for this unfortunate lack of replicability of the original results. We can go through the four explanations listed as answer choices, define each one, and decide which is the most likely explanation for the lack of replicability of the original results.
- Base rate fallacy. The base rate fallacy has to do with incorrectly judging a situation like not considering all the information at a researchers’ disposal. Researchers might erroneously ignore base rates in favor of individuating information. That is not what happens in our question stem
- Hindsight bias is the belief that the event just experienced was predictable, even though it really wasn’t. This is not the reason for the lack of replicability of the original results.
- Observer bias occurs when there is bias on the part of the specific researcher – this could occur because of the researcher’s prior knowledge of the study, for example. This is a strong possibility in this case and the initial results may not have been obtained properly. That bias is what caused the initial conclusion that the drug is effective, despite the results not being replicable. This is a strong answer choice.
- Public verifiability is likely a distractor. This is not listed on AAMC’s content outline and not a term commonly used when talking about research results. This answer choice is instead referring to the reason the subsequent scientists are testing the initial drug. We can eliminate this answer choice. Answer choice C remains our best option.
10) No tricky verbiage here; this is a basic standalone question that relies on knowing the function of the retina. The retina is the thin layer of cells at the back of the eyeball where light is converted into neural signals sent to the brain. There are two types of photoreceptors in the retina: rods and cones, named for their general appearance.
Rods are strongly photosensitive and are located in the outer edges of the retina. They detect dim light and are used primarily for peripheral and nighttime vision. Cones are weakly photosensitive and are located near the center of the retina. They respond to bright light, and their primary role is in daytime, color vision.
- accommodate and focus incoming light rays on the lens. This is not a function of the retina. The cornea and the lens bend light to focus the image on the retina; the iris and pupil regulate the amount of light entering the eye.
- detect light rays and convert them into signals for the brain to process. This is consistent with our breakdown. The retina is the thin layer of cells at the back of the eyeball where light is converted into neural signals sent to the brain. This is our best answer choice.
- provide oxygen and nutrients to the vitreous humor. The vitreous humor supports the lens and maintains the shape of the entire eye. Blood vessels provide oxygen and nutrients to the eye. The retina functions to detect light rays and convert into signals for the brain to process. Answer choice B remains superior.
- control the amount of light focused on the photoreceptor cells. This is a function of the lens. The main function of the lens is to focus light on the retina and fovea centralis. The lens is dynamic, focusing and re-focusing light as the eye rests on near and far objects in the visual field. We can stick with answer choice B as our best answer choice.
11) This is a standalone question that focuses on a sociology concept: the glass escalator. The glass escalator is a direct contrast to the glass ceiling which suggests there is an unofficial barrier to advancement in a profession. The glass ceiling specifically suggests women are not able to advance in their profession as quickly and regularly as their male counterparts. The glass escalator focuses on the other side and says that men are promoted and advance in their profession much more quickly than their female counterparts, specifically in traditionally female-dominated industries.
- He will be promoted to supervisory roles more quickly than his female counterparts. This is consistent with our breakdown of the question. The glass escalator concept says that men are promoted and advance in their profession much more quickly than their female counterparts, specifically in traditionally female-dominated industries.
- He will lack needed experience for promotion because of gender segregation in tasks. The glass escalator concept does not predict the male employee will lack needed experience for promotion. Women are traditionally subject to task segregation in tasks more than their male counterparts. Answer choice A remains superior.
- He will face more extensive role conflict with supervisors than his female counterparts. Role conflict describes the conflict between or among the roles corresponding to two or more statuses held by one individual. This is out of scope when discussion the glass escalator concept.
- He will challenge gender norms in the industry and thus be passed over for promotions. This is the opposite of what the glass escalator concept predicts. The male will actually progress more quickly than his female counterparts in a female-dominated industry. We can stick with answer choice A as our best answer.
12) The test-maker provides us with a setup and some general results about research. We’re told the supplies given to the participants and what the participants did with these supplies. The test-maker tells us only a few participants used a seemingly good solution to the task they were asked to do (use the matchbox as a candle holder). We can go through our four answer choices and define each one and see which option correctly identifies the barrier to problem solving the participants experienced.
- Confirmation bias. Confirmation bias is a barrier to problem-solving. 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 not what the participants did in the example.
- Functional fixedness. Functional fixedness is a special type of mindset that occurs when the intended purpose of an object hinders a person’s ability to see its potential other uses. It’s the inability to see an object as useful for any other use other than the one for which it was intended. The participants did not think of the matchbox as a possible candle holder because of functional fixedness. This is a strong answer choice.
- Overconfidence effect. Overconfidence effect has more to do with a person’s confidence in their judgment or abilities compared to the objective accuracy of the judgment. Participants can overestimate their judgement. There is no evidence the participants were overconfident.
- Availability heuristic. A heuristic is a rule of thumb, a strategy, or a mental shortcut that generally works for solving a problem (particularly decision-making problems). Availability heuristic is a faulty heuristic in which you decide based on information readily available to you and how quickly you can retrieve this information from memory. This was not a barrier experienced by the participants. We can stick with answer choice B as our best answer.
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