Blueprint Diagnostic Psych/Soc Passage 5

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MP 289: Blueprint Diagnostic Psych/Soc Passage 5

Session 289

Today, we review the Psych/Soc Passage 5 from Blueprint’s FREE half-length diagnostic and share our own testing strategies. We’re joined by Ali from Blueprint MCAT. 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.

[02:54] Passage 5 (Questions 24 – 27)

Paragraph 1

Antisocial personality disorder is a chronic mental condition in which a person’s ways of thinking, perceiving situations and relating to their peers are dysfunctional and destructive. People with antisocial personality disorder typically have no regard for right and wrong and often disregard the rights, wishes and feelings of others. Several traits necessary to assess antisocial personality disorder have been identified.

  • Superficial charm (smooth-talking, engaging and slick)
  • Greatly inflated idea of one’s abilities and self-esteem and a sense of superiority
  • Pathological lying
  • Manipulative (uses deceit to cheat others for personal gain)
  • Lack of remorse or guilt
  • Limited range or depth of feelings
  • Callous/lack of empathy
  • Failure to accept responsibility for own actions


We see a list of symptoms or behaviors that we use to identify the antisocial personality disorder. But it’s part of the background and not of our research. There might be some content connecting to this about self-worth, self-efficacy, or self-esteem. It might come up in question, but dwell on this. Let’s move on as we’re still looking for that hypothesis, or at least the purpose of the experiment.

[04:51] Paragraph 2

Despite their antisocial behavior, many criminals do not fit the description of antisocial personality disorder. The disorder has both biological and psychological roots. No single gene codes for such complex behavior but some studies have detected early signs of antisocial behavior. Figure 1 below shows the results of an experiment performed to measure levels of the hormone adrenaline in 2 groups of boys at age 15.

Figure 1 Levels of adrenaline measured in two groups of boys


It’s worth noting in the paragraph that antisocial personality disorder has both biological and psychological roots. So we’re looking for two factors going forward.

It doesn’t say the purpose of the experiment, but it seems that they want to measure if adrenaline is different in people with criminal records versus no criminal records. And it suggests that

We’re not given a statistical significance in the figure.

[07:44] Paragraph 3

In both stressful and non stressful situations, those who acquired a juvenile criminal record as 12-15-year-olds showed comparatively low arousal. Genetics alone cannot tell the whole story. Relative to 1955, the average American in 2005 was twice as likely to be murdered, four times as likely to be robbed, and five times more likely to be assaulted. Yet the human gene pool had hardly changed.


Whenever we have behaviors, there are two competing hypotheses or reasons for the behavior. It could be genetic and could be environmental. The figure is telling us that the adrenaline level is different. That’s a biological reason. It might not be necessarily genetic, but there’s a biological basis.

'Whenever we have behaviors, there are two competing hypotheses or reasons for the behavior. It could be genetic and could be environmental.'Click To Tweet

The last paragraph is suggesting that our genes did not change in the last 50 years. And yet, the crime rate has increased much. And so, it must be more environmental than genetic.

Ali says that if asked to prove or disprove any of this, just think about twin studies. Whenever they tell you whether it is genetic or an environment, the answer is that it has to deal with twins. If you want to prove it’s genetic, look at the identical twins who grew up apart but ended up with similar outcomes. Both will be criminals or both were non-criminals.

Whereas if you want to say environmental, twins are raised apart with different families. One turned up a criminal and one an Attorney General. So this is the type of proof for these Skill 3 questions proposed as an experiment.

[10:20] Question 24

Which conclusion is supported by Figure 1?

  1. Boys with a criminal record have no autonomic response to stress.
  2. Boys with no criminal record will respond to stress by secreting a lower total level of autonomic hormones than boys with a criminal record.
  3. Boys with no criminal records have lower resting levels of adrenaline.
  4. Boys with a criminal record will secrete a lower total level of autonomic hormones in stressful situations than boys without one.

Thought Process:

The autonomic nervous system is both sympathetic and parasympathetic. That sympathetic response is mediated usually through epinephrine or epinephrine. It’s both in the autonomic nervous system pathway, and it could also be hormonal.

Ali says this is a content you need to know for the MCAT. We have two stress responses. One is chronic and it’s mediated by cortisol secreted by the adrenal cortex, and one is a more acute response to stress. The latter is what’s being tested here or mediated by the autonomic nervous system via adrenaline and noradrenaline or epinephrine and norepinephrine.

Correct Answer: D

[13:17] Question 25

It is found that some people who suffer from antisocial personality disorder had trouble with speech comprehension as children. What brain area is likely associated with this difficulty?

A.Somatosensory cortex

B.Wernicke’s area

C.Occipital lobe

D.Basal ganglia

Thought Process:

Whenever you hear “speech,” you need to think of Wernicke’s area and Broca’s area. Since Broca is not in any of the answer choices, then it’s easy to pick Wernicke’s area.

'Whenever you hear ‘speech,’ you need to think of Broca and Wernicke.' Click To Tweet

Now, if Broca’s area is in the answer choices, then you have to pick Wernicke because Broca is about speech production, while Wernicke is about comprehension.

Correct Answer: B

[14:23] Question 26

A woman walking to work sees a group of people on the street staring at an open manhole. She stops to join them in staring down at the open manhole. Her behavior is an example of:

A.the bystander effect.




Thought Process:

The topic on social actions or social phenomena is tricky. You have to know the differences between terms like conformity, which is more of a general term, and then terms like groupthink, deindividuation, the bystander effect, group polarization, peer pressure, social loafing, etc.

And sometimes, the difference between one or the other is very small. Ali says that a lot of students would fall for groupthink here or deindividuation.

A – The bystander effect is where, in this case, a bunch of people are walking then somebody fell down in the manhole and someone has called 911. The bystander effect is when In a group, people are less likely to act. Especially if the group is big, they’re assuming somebody else will call 911.

B – Deindividuation is when we lose our identity and take on the identity of the group. For instance, you’re leaving a football game, and people are rioting. Your friends are rioting and you take on the identity of the group, and you join the riots. You’re part of the mob instead of you being yourself. In this case, this individual looked at a manhole because other people were looking. They didn’t lose their identity to the group.

D – Groupthink deals with making decisions as a group. And it does not apply to this current situation.

We then arrive at a conclusion where C is the correct answer after ruling out A, B, and D.

Correct Answer: C

[21:13] Question 27

Which organ is associated with the hormone response monitored in the experiment discussed in the passage?


B.Adrenal glands



Thought Process:

Most of our endocrine glands come from the mesoderm. The germ layer origin is the mesoderm. But we talked about the adrenaline response, the sympathetic response as both hormonal and nervous. The adrenal medulla actually evolved from a sympathetic ganglion. So it is actually not derived from the mesoderm.

Looking at the other choices, the kidney contains the angiotensin system. Thymus is where T-cells mature, part of the immune system. Amygdala is part of the brain. It’s involved in the fear response and emotional memory. And so, it’s more on the neurotransmitters than the hormones.

Correct Answer: C


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