Blueprint MCAT Full-Length 1: Psych/Soc Passage 9 – Bystanders

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MP 240: Blueprint MCAT Full-Length 1: Psych/Soc Passage 9 - Bystanders

Session 240

Two to go! Join me and Dorothy as we near the end of Blueprint MCAT Full-Length 1 and complete psych/soc passage 9 and discuss the bystander effect. If you would like to follow along on YouTube, go to

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

[01:57] Tips While Waiting for Your Test Results

'Treat every practice that you do, whether it's a full length, or QBank set, or whatever it is, as a learning opportunity.'Click To Tweet

Dorothy advises students to have a growth mindset and stay positive. Look for constructive things to help you move forward. Take a few seconds before you look at it. If there are things that went well, if you scored on par or better than you hoped for, then that’s awesome.

Think about what you did well, what you could continue to build upon, and what things you could change up as well. And if you’re feeling a little discouraged, analyze and review it thoroughly. See if you can glean any additional insights from that entire day you spent taking the test.

[03:36] Passage 9 (Questions 48 – 52)

Paragraph 1

The concept of the bystander effect emerged in social psychology after the 1964 murder of Kitty Genovese in New York City in response to media reports that dozens of neighbors listened to her screams, but did not call the police, assuming that someone else would intervene. In subsequent decades, a consensus has emerged that a large number of bystanders, a sense of anonymity, and perceptions of diffused responsibility make observers less likely to intervene. In contrast, dangerous situations, physical support from other bystanders, and the active presence of perpetrators have been found to increase the likelihood of intervention.


This introduces the bystander effect and how it relates back to the Kitty Genovese case.  Note some other factors that would encourage or discourage intervention from bystanders

[05:30] Paragraph 2

The emergence and normalization of online interactions has dramatically changed the scope of social psychology research, and investigations of the bystander effect are no exception in this regard. Internet-driven research into the bystander effect has taken two major directions. In one approach, researchers have used online spaces to conduct experiments that would otherwise be impossible or unethical in face-to-face circumstances, such as randomized exposure to graphically-simulated violence. Such studies have found that in-group affiliations, including being fans of the same sports team, can moderate the bystander effect.


This paragraph is introducing those online interactions which help us better understand the bystander effect.

[07:33] Paragraph 3

Another approach is to analyze the bystander effect in the context of qualitatively new forms of behavior. As an example, a growing number of Internet users engage in online vigilantism, using the Web as a means to investigate and punish perceived or suspected wrongdoers by identifying and posting personal information, such as the person’s home address, phone number, and employer, so that other users can aggressively retaliate. Although most internet users, when asked, condemn online vigilantism, harassment, and cyberbullying, few speak out against internet vigilantes and bullies. Research into online vigilantism and harassment has confirmed that the basic dynamics of the bystander effect also apply in this setting. Novel findings include the possibility that perceiving an online space as well-moderated and highly-regulated might exacerbate the bystander effect, while various accountability cues that highlight a user’s own identity and behavior might reduce it.


Here, you have more factors and more research being done here. And this paragraph is talking about this idea of online vigilantism of posting wrongdoer people’s info online.

[09:57] Question 48

Based on passage information, which of the following strategies would NOT be reasonable for an online community to implement as ways to reduce the bystander effect to instances of online vigilantism and harassment?

A.Preventing anonymous interactions by mandating that users participate under their real names

B.Providing public recognition to users who report online vigilantism and harassment

C.Emphasizing the role of the users themselves in maintaining the community space

D.Rewarding users who report online vigilantism and harassment with small gift cards via email

Thought Process:

If we rephrase the questions, it’s asking what is not a way to reduce the bystander effect in the context of vigilantism and harassment. One strategy to use here is to choose first, which ones tend to reduce the bystander effect. And the one that’s least likely is then the correct answer.

B and D are similar because they’re both recognizing people who report harassment, but one is doing it publicly. The other is doing it by email. But no one else will know that they report it. So it might not encourage that behavior to increase.

Correct Answer: D

[16:08] Question 49

Based on the information from the passage, what conformity process or factor most likely impacts the behavior of Internet users who decide to engage in harassment without examining evidence for themselves?

A.Normative influence

B.Informational influence



Thought Process:

A & B – Normative and informational are both two types of social influences. It’s how we describe how people end up conforming.

Normative social influence is you want to be normal. It’s very much like peer pressure and you’re trying to gain social approval.

Informational social influence is that you are more likely to accept information from other people as real even without you got it for yourself. You want to be correct and it often comes into play when you’re uncertain about something. And someone else seems very certain about it so you believe it and you just go along with that type of information.

C – Compliance is like you’re doing it because you need to do it. So this doesn’t make sense here.

D – Ingratiation is trying to get someone to like you so that they can comply with your request or help you out later on. But that’s not really happening here.

Correct Answer: B

[20:58] Question 50

A group of researchers is interested in learning more about the public’s attitudes toward Internet vigilantes. They organize focus groups for adults who frequently use the Internet and ask them to talk about their experiences online and with Internet vigilantism. What kind of research are they performing?

A.Case studies

B.Quantitative research

C.Qualitative research

D.Naturalistic observational research

Thought Process:

A – Case studies are very specific to one specific person or case. It’s usually a very extensive interview report about that person or group’s experiences.

B – Quantitative is all numbers-based and you can actually measure it concretely.

C – Qualitative is more descriptive. You’re gathering information, in this case, through a focus group or discussion group.

D – The study mentioned above is not observational, so this is out.

Correct Answer: C

[23:15] Question 51

The tendency of bystanders to avoid intervening in conflict, even though they would want others to intervene on their behalf, can be best explained by:

A.opponent-process theory.

B.cognitive dissonance theory. reduction theory.

D.expectancy-value theory.

Thought Process:

A – The opponent-process theory is particular on the MCAT to self-destructive behaviors, like drug addiction. For instance, if you have a certain experience that initially gives you a super intense reaction in one way or another, whether it’s positive or negative. Then as that experience continues over time, the opposite thing might predominate.

This is useful for explaining withdrawal because you have that initial pleasurable experience, which gives way to the negative experiences of withdrawal when you don’t have it.

B – Cognitive dissonance is characterized by any sort of contradiction in thoughts, values, or actions. So the action here is “I’m not going to intervene for you.” But my value is “I want you to intervene for me, though.” And so, the theory itself tries to explain how people justify those two contradicting beliefs.

C – Drive reduction is homeostatic so it looks at the actions we take to fulfill or reduce our basic biological drive. An example is when you’re hungry, you have the drive to reduce that hunger. So you’re going to go eat food.

D – Expectancy-value theory is when you’re viewing motivation as a balance between our expectancies and what we expect to get out of it in the value. Expectancy is the degree to which we think will be successful audit value is how much we think it’s worthwhile. So if you have high levels of expectancy, and it’s a high value that’s going to correspond to high motivation level.

Correct Answer: B

[26:22] Question 52

Laws passed to introduce specific penalties for cyberbullying and online harassment can be described as attempts to transform:

A.informal norms into formal norms.

B.folkways into mores.

C.mores into informal norms.

D.folkways into formal norms.

Thought Process:

A – Informal versus formal is whether they’re enforced or not legally. Formal is enforced and informal is unenforced things. They’re not punished by authority figures and they still occur every day though.

For example, an informal norm is like you shouldn’t tell a joke at a funeral. Or you should be quiet in a movie theater. Those things are unspoken, but kind of expected. They’re not enforced. Formal is you can be punished for that legally.

Folkway is an informal thing. It’s relatively unimportant and not super significant like burping at a dinner table or holding a door open for someone or using your silverware correctly. It’s like right versus rude.

Mores are a little bit more serious. An example is that drug abuse is not socially acceptable. It’s like right versus wrong.

Correct Answer: A

[29:47] Tips When Strapped for Time

Dorothy reminds us that there are three or four more discrete questions at the end of this last passage set. So if you’re really down to the wire, and you have one more passage left and you have your discrete set left as well. Her advice is to not read the passage. If you can eliminate it, great. But choose one answer for all of them. Don’t leave anything blank and skip straight to the discrete questions. Since you don’t have to read a passage so it’s a bit cheaper in terms of time per point.

'If I'm really down to the wire, I'd probably just fill in answers for the passage and go straight to the discrete questions at the end.'Click To Tweet


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