AAMC MCAT Outline: Social Role and Interactions

MP 174: AAMC MCAT Outline: Social Role and Interactions

Session 174

Straight from the official MCAT outline! We’re covering the difference between role conflict, role strain, and attachment styles. Know these COLD as we dive into AAMC Content Category 8C.

We’re joined once again by Phil from Blueprint MCAT (formerly Next Step Test Prep) the leader in MCAT prep tutorials.

Listen to this podcast episode with the player above, or keep reading for the highlights and takeaway points.

[02:40] Role Conflict vs Role Strain

Role conflict is when roles start to overlap and interfere with each other. It’s something every medical student has experience.

Role strain is when you have trouble meeting that role just by itself. A good example is a student who wants to be a physician but is terrible at standardized test as well as at math and science. So you need to do well to get into medical school. The MCAT is perfect at creating role strain as people are really trying to fit into this role.

'It's really important to tell these two apart because the MCAT likes to focus on terms that are very similar.'Click To Tweet

[05:55] Attachment

Attachment has a big crossover into medicine overall. There are four main types of attachment:

  • Secure
  • Avoidant
  • Ambivalent
  • Disorganized

Secure Attachment

For example, the kid feels that they’re going to be taken care of. The kid is attached to that parent with secure attachment. If the parent leaves, the kid is going to get upset. Then if the parent returns, the kid is going to feel happier. If the parent becomes inconsistent or doesn’t take care of the kid at all, problems arise. This is something important for doctors to be able to recognize.

Avoidant Attachment

Using the same example above, when the parent leaves, the kid doesn’t care. And if the parent comes back, the kid still doesn’t care. The kid is very emotionally distant. This means the kid probably isn’t taken care of at all. The kid doesn’t care if the parent leaves or returns.

Ambivalent Attachment

The kid gets upset when the parent leaves but doesn’t care when the parent comes back. The idea is that the parent is not neglecting the child, but just inconsistent. Sometimes, the parent takes care of the kid; sometimes the parent doesn’t. Ambivalent attachment implies that the parents were inconsistent with what’s going on.

It could also be that the parents are divorced and the kid is bouncing back and forth. They don’t have someone who’s consistently taking care of them. So they feel they don’t have someone they can rely on to take care of them. So it’s not necessary that there is neglect involved.

Disorganized Attachment

This means it’s just not one of the other types of attachment. It’s something weird. For example, the parent leaves and the kid starts humming to themselves. Or if the parent comes back and the kid does that. It’s a strange behavior that doesn’t fit into one of the other three categories. 

This doesn’t mean there is neglect or mistreatment going on. Sometimes, children will act differently if there’s something going on with them personally. If they have autism, they’re not necessarily going to develop those emotional attachments.

[11:43] Telling the Difference

Avoidant and ambivalent attitudes sound so similar. They both start with A. The kid doesn’t care if the parent comes back.

Avoidant is when the kid doesn’t care when the parent leaves or comes back. The kid is not take care of at all.

Ambivalent is when the kid cares when the parent leaves but doesn’t care when they come back. This means the care is inconsistent.

[13:00] Blueprint MCAT (formerly Next Step Test Prep)

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AAMC Content Category 8C

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