In our first set of discrete questions from Blueprint MCAT (formerly Next Step Test Prep), we answer questions about bias, stress hormones, organizational effects, and groupthink!
[01:50] MCAT Strategies
Clara from Next Step says that virtually nobody runs out of time on Psych/Soc. But the big benefit doing discrete questions first is that when you do the first 15, and then you just take whatever time you have left and divide it into time per passage. But if you’re not going to run out of time anyway, you might as well go through it in order and save yourself the effort of clicking around and trying to find what the discrete questions are first.
[03:09] Question 10
Survey responses can be prone to subjective bias due to varying interpretation of questions. Blood levels of which of the following would best operationalize feelings of stress?
(D) Free radicals
The correct answer here is C. They might throw you off with the first sentence in that survey responses as well as the term “operationalize” – but what operationalize means that some subjects of a study might not that be easy to quantify and measure. So feelings of stress, how do you measure it? So we’re trying to figure out a way we can really have something quantifiable, measurable, related to stress. And C cortisol is a stress hormone.
[04:44] Question 11
Groupthink tends to exacerbate the tendency of individuals to favor the reasoning and decisions of associates in the group. Another way of saying this is that people experiencing groupthink have a(an):
(A) confirmation bias.
(B) in-group bias.
(C) self-serving bias.
(D) attribution bias.
The correct answer here is B. It’s so counter-intuitive but you never want to eliminate an answer choice just because it looks too easy. And sometimes you get rid of the answer choices that seems super obvious but in fact, it’s really the obvious one. In-group refers to members of the same group that shares some demographic characteristics. So you tend to be biased to favor their opinions and decisions as opposed to the members of an outgroup, which is a group not part of your close circle.
[07:11] Question 12
The strong negative effect that losing a long-term employee can have on a hospital is most likely due to the effect on the:
(A) cultural capital of the organization.
(B) group polarization of the organization.
(C) institutional memory of the organization.
(D) social facilitation of the organization.
The correct answer here is C. Cultural capital is almost the one that most students pick if they don’t pick C. It’s, in fact, a weird concept that a lot of people don’t have the right definition in their head. But it’s not referring to financial capital or wealth. Nor is it a social capital which refers to the connections you form or people you know in your network. Cultural capital is like everything else like the way you talk, how well-read and articulate you are and things that contribute to your social standing but aren’t the other two.
Institutional memory is relevant in corporate life, where it refers to the collective, written or unwritten memory of policies and procedures of the organization itself. So when you lose someone who’s worked for a long time, it’s almost impossible that every single thing they know will be documented. So you’re going to lose some of the institutional memory. And the new people that would come in would have to learn how to do it again for themselves.
Group polarization ends up being irrelevant to this context but super relevant to MCAT psych section. It refers to this idea that if you get people in a group and they share an opinion and you get them talking about that opinion, they will tend to leave the conversation more extreme.
Social facilitation is a phenomenon where if you’re performing something in front of a group, your performance will be much better than it would be if you were performing alone. But if you’re not very confident or practiced in that activity, your performance can suffer because you’re nervous.
[10:33] Question 13
One of Janis’ eight characteristics of groupthink is self-censorship, the withholding of opposing information by group members. It is brought on by another one of Janis’ characteristics, the pressure of conformity, which encourages uniformity of opinion and characterizes deviation from the group’s ideas as loyal. This self-censorship in the face of pressure and perceived “loyalty” is most similar to:
(B) cognitive dissonance.
The correct answer here is A. The individuation is closely related to groupthink which is this tendency where when you’re in a large group, we tend to lose our sense of individuality and we get very aligned with the group itself.
Answer choice C can be a trap answer. Repression is when somebody who is maybe experiencing something traumatic and just doesn’t think about it. They repress the thought. But we don’t know that these people are repressing anything. They could be thinking about how it may not be great to go along with the group. They could be thinking those thoughts but they’re just acting to just be along with the group anyway.
Sublimation is one of Freud’s ego defense mechanisms. It’s where if you have thoughts or urges that are not socially acceptable. It’s like taking unacceptable impulses and transcend them into something better or something more acceptable.
Cognitive dissonance is where your behaviors don’t align with your thoughts or beliefs.
[15:05] Blueprint MCAT (formerly Next Step Test Prep)
If you’re looking for beginning MCAT material, check out The Premed Playbook: Guide to the MCAT, which I co-wrote with Blueprint MCAT (formerly Next Step Test Prep). We’ll help you understand everything you need to know about the MCAT as well as some tips and strategies. Also check out all my other books, The Premed Playbook: Guide to the Personal Statement and the The Premed Playbook: Guide to the Medical School Interview.
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