Psychology Grab Bag of Discrete Questions for the MCAT

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Session 96

Psychology is one of the newer subjects on the MCAT. Bryan from Blueprint MCAT (formerly Next Step Test Prep) and I cover the topic to help you learn how to answer the questions.

The Premed Playbook: Guide to the MCAT is now available on Amazon, Kindle, and Paperback. Just a reminder, you don’t have to have a Kindle device to read a Kindle eBook. You can use a Kindle app on every device you have. It’s $4.99 for the Kindle at this point and $9.99 for Paperback.

If you’re just starting out on your MCAT journey and trying to figure things out, then this is the book for you. It will give you the ins and outs of the MCAT. It’s not a content review book but it will help you choose one if that is something you’re looking for.

Next week, we begin to deep dive into the full length exam and break it own question by question. So be sure to stay tuned!

[02:15] Why Psychology is on the MCAT

Psychology is a section included in the MCAT as a reminder that we’re not just treating machines or robots, but we’re treating human beings. So the psychological context in which we treat those illnesses matters tremendously.

[02:35] Universal Emotions

Question 28: Which of the following emotions is considered a universal emotion?

  1. Disgust
  2. Contempt

III. Love

  • (A) I only
  • (B) II only
  • (C) I and II only
  • (D) I, II, and III

Bryan’s Insights:

The method you can do here is to do whatever Roman numeral is the easiest for you. You can read 10 different MCAT books and get ten different supposed tricks for Roman numeral questions.

At Next Step, Bryan says they’re not big fans of the idea that the MCAT is a magic trick. But there are rhythms you can use and real, simple techniques.

If you read (C) and think III is obviously wrong, then don’t try to figure out the other two Roman numerals. Just use that for process of elimination before considering the other remaining Roman numerals.

In this case, it pretty strongly suggests that it’s one of those I and II since III only shows up in a single answer choice. But if III is a correct answer, then you’re done.

But did you know that C is not the right answer here? Bryan explains that there’s an important subtext to this question that only comes out if you really know your Psych backwards and forward.

If you’ve ever seen the phrase, “universal emotion” on the MCAT, they’re talking about a very particular phenomenon. The psychologist Paul Ekman had what he called as the universal emotions, specifically referring to one phenomenon. This involved emotions that are reflected universally in facial expressions. So he studied people in wester society and went to Papua New Guinea and investigated tribes. He basically traveled all around the world and examined facial expressions for different emotions. He developed this list of seven emotions that every society everywhere had these emotions and had the same facial expressions for them.

Every society everywhere has happy and sad and shows them in the same way on the face. Then surprise and fear are the next two. Contempt and disgust are very strongly negative emotions. And the final one is anger. A good example is the movie Inside Out where love is not part of the emotions there, right?

[08:00] Types of Therapy

Question 30: To foster the use of problem-oriented strategies, with a minimum number of patient-doctor sessions, a clinician would most likely use what modality of therapy:

  • (A) Psychodynamic therapy
  • (B) Systems therapy
  • (C) Cognitive behavioral therapy
  • (D) Humanistic existential therapy

Bryan’s Insights:

There’s a giveaway here according to Bryan in that the “problem oriented” phrase suggests something behavioral. Cognitive behavioral therapy is problem-focused, specifically centered around solving very solvable problems in the person’s life. Examples include addiction problems, food disorders, depressive disorders, where it teaches the patients to recognize their cognition. Then recognize the behaviors that come from those cognitions. Then you disrupt that so you get away from those maladaptive behaviors.

[10:00] Bias Types

Question 45: A board of trustees investigated the rising cost of hospital and found that employee turnover was rising, causing deficient unskilled care and leading to increased cost and lower revenue. The hospital board is setting a hospital’s tradition of excellent care and happy employees decided to ignore this report’s recommendations in favor of those given by an outside consulting group who said the cost rise was due to local economic conditions. This choice exemplifies what kind of bias.

  • (A) Ingroup bias
  • (B) Confirmation bias
  • (C) Outgroup bias
  • (D) Attribution bias

Bryan’s Insights:

It said here that they went with an outside consulting group so that tells you it’s not an ingroup or outgroup bias. Ingroup bias is when you think better of them. And outgroup says you look down or biased against the outgroup. But in this case, they went with the outside consultant.

An attribution bias doesn’t even fit the description which is a systems level problem. Attribution bias is how you attribute certain behaviors to people. You watch a person do a thing and then the researcher asks why he did that thing. And then how you answer that question or how you attribute the behavior can be biased. And there’s no individual referenced to in this question so it’s not relevant. Hence, the right answer here is B.

[12:45] Blueprint MCAT (formerly Next Step Test Prep)

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Blueprint MCAT (formerly Next Step Test Prep)

The Premed Playbook: Guide to the MCAT