Are you tired of CARS yet? This is one of the hardest sections on the MCAT, but hopefully, we’re making it easier for you going through these passages!
Once again, Clara from Next Step Test Prep joins us for another (hopefully, fun) round of the CARS section. Also, please listen to all our other podcasts onMedEd Media Network to help you along this journey!
[02:06] Passage 5
With the recent increase in the visibility and attention to Indian literature, the almost strangling pull of family has become a common, inevitable trope, and Anita Desai’s Clear Light of Day, for instance, the main character Bim, who has sacrificed her life to tending her family, realizes “they were really all parts of her, inseparable” so many aspects of her that as she was them. Whatever diminished them, diminished her. If there were hurts, these gashes and wounds in her side that bled, then it was only because her love was imperfect. This idea of self-sacrifice to the altar of familial obligation does not appear in fiction alone. Geographer Lisa Lau writes that despite the burgeoning of the middle class in urban India, which sees a radical economic shift towards increasing numbers of single women working outside their homes, as yet, there has not been any equally radical shift in the social, cultural, or familial situation. Subsequently, neither has there been a radical change in women’s roles nor suicidal expectations of them, resulting, she argues, in a continued lack of autonomy in self-definition.
Within the canon of American folk psychology, says role-related social expectation must inevitably lead to a reduced individual agency. Common sense about the motivation of others suggests that acting in response to obligation will result in a reduced sense of choice and fewer feelings of satisfaction that spontaneously performed actions. Yet, quantitative studies of motivation belie this belief. One recent cross-cultural study, for instance, that when presenting these similar scenarios of obligation to various people within their social circles, Indian students were far more likely to express not only obligation, but also satisfaction in fulfilling social expectations of friends and family in comparison to their more independent counterparts. This study expands upon a 1990 study that revealed greater moral ambivalence towards fulfilling the needs of others in U.S. respondents than Indian ones. This study stressed the personal moral orientation of U.S. subjects who, researchers argued, understood helping others as both a moral obligation and a matter of personal decision-making.
An explanation for this difference between outcomes can be found in self-determination theory (SDT), one of the most pervasive theories within contemporary psychological models in motivation. SDT postulates that rather than reducing a sense of autonomy and resulting satisfaction, fully internalize role-related expectations can actually enhance them. That is, rather than reading collective values as controlling or coercive, subjects who have fully internalized such values tend to experience obligations in a highly agentic way so that such actions are read as autonomous and beneficial rather than coerced. Feelings of agency have been frequently demonstrated, empirically linked with satisfaction and well-being as well as increased effectivity. Thus, it can be argued that well-internalized role-related expectations can actually enhance a sense of autonomy. SDT theorists maintain that in all cultures. Agency requires coming to understand one’s actions as internally motivated regardless of the initial sources of social obligations.
[06:06] Question 25
Based on the discussion in Paragraph 3, agency differs from individuality in som much as agency:
- (A) Can be a result of successful internalization
- (B) Is the only empirical indicator of satisfaction
- (C) Requires the reduction of autonomy in a collective role-related society
- (D) Creates autonomy through the development of specific societal values
If you find this question as too dense, moving on can be a good idea here. You might find that later questions in this passage are way easier so you might as well not sink a lot of time into this first question.
But in terms of getting to the right answer here, get rid of B since it’s really extreme having the word “only” there which is not anywhere in the passage. Then look at C first as “requires” is a strong word too. While the passage suggests that agency and autonomy are linked, not opposites.
A is a moderate answer saying it “can be” a result of successful internalization. Just go back to the third paragraph and try to find “internalization” and see if it’s there. And it talks about “subjects who have fully internalized such values tend to experience obligations in a highly agentic way” so you can tell right away it looks really similar to agency.
Again, if you have limited time, you might as well spend it on questions you are more likely to get right.
[10:43] Question 27
Studies have shown that American children, when given a choice of tasks, prefer and perform better on those which they chose independently. Whereas Asian children preferred and performed better on those which were chosen by their mothers. Based on the passage, what best describes this difference in outcomes?
- (A) The Asian children have internalized role-related obligations.
- (B) The American children assessed tasks within a personal moral matrix.
- (C) The Asian children do not recognize that their actions are coerced.
- (D) The American children have internalized agential values.
Looking at C, the word “recognize” says their actions are coerced just that they don’t notice it. And the author never said their actions are coerced. Instead, it’s saying that because of these internalized obligations, they don’t interpret their actions as being coerced. So we can’t say they are coerced. So the correct answer here is A.
B is a bit tempting and the trend of students taking this is they end up picking B. Personal moral matrix comes from the passage. But that personal moral orientation is discussing that these American participants’ orientation toward helping others. And the question is not about helping others. It’s just whether they prefer and do better on certain tasks, leaving B irrelevant. While D is trying to take exact wording from the passage. But the passage only talked about internalizing values in the context of participants in the more collective culture. So this answer choice is sort of picking and choosing words from the passage, but not correctly linking them to ideas.
[16:05] Question 28
Based on the passage, folk psychology as a field depends on which of the following:
- Appeals to common sense
- Qualitative studies of motivation
III. Seeking to explain mental states
- (A) I only
- (B) II only
- (C) I and III only
- (D) I, II, and III
Don’t assume Roman Numeral questions will always be difficult. Sometimes, they’re just about finding each of the options in the passage. Here, just go back to the passage mentioning this and see whether any of these are discussed in the context of folk psychology.
III is obviously a part of folk psychology. So III should be part of your answer. So that leaves with you C and D. Then I is in both, so you don’t even have to look at I. Hence, you only have to look at II. Going back to the passage, you never really see qualitative studies of motivation, only quantitative. So II is out and you’re left with C.
Students often answer C, failing to recognize that the passage says quantitative, and not qualitative. Lesson: be sure to read carefully because you don’t want to get so close to the right answer and miss it just because you missed a couple of letters.
[20:08] Question 29
The author would agree that all of the following demonstrate a key tenet of self-determination theory,except:
- (A) The concept of dharma or duty, which is viewed as a means of personal spiritual refinement that derives from a perceived natural law.
- (B) The concept of the categorical imperative which places the judgment of behavior in the realm of abstract reason as opposed to personal values.
- (C) The concept of filial piety which embodies sentiments of affection and attachment rather than merely the idea of social compliance.
- (D) The concept of suban, which understands character as normalized through the embedding of societal norms, with entails that come to be seen as explaining personal choices
If you see an “except” question, students tend to forget it’s an except question and end up crashing out the correct answer. So be careful with this. Here, the right answer is B since “abstract reasoning” hasn’t really been mentioned in the passage.
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