• Julianna Kearney

MCAT Monday: Behavior - Attitudes and Motivation


Biological, psychological, and sociocultural factors influence behavior and behavior change.


Human behavior is complex and often surprising, differing across individuals in the same situation and within an individual across different situations. A full understanding of human behavior requires knowledge of the interplay between psychological, sociocultural, and biological factors that are related to behavior. This interplay has important implications for the way we behave and the likelihood of behavior change.


Foundational Concept 7 focuses on individual and social determinants of behavior and behavior change.


With these building blocks, medical students will be able to learn how behavior can either support health or increase risk for disease. (via AAMC)


The Motivation and Attitudes section cover

Practice Questions:

1. Deviations from homeostasis can create an internal state of biological and psychological tension. What is this best term for this state? Choose 1 answer:

  • A: Drive

  • B: Regulation

  • C: Dissonance

  • D: Equilibrium

2. Which of the following is not a primary component of attitudes? Choose 1 answer:

  • A: Action tendencies

  • B: Cognition

  • C: Affect

  • D: Environment

3. A scientist is studying brain function in rats and destroys the animal’s ventromedial hypothalamus. Which of the following is most likely to occur? Choose 1 answer:

  • A: The rat will eat excessive amounts of food.

  • B: The rat will refuse to eat until it is forced.

  • C: The rat will refuse to drink until it is forced.

  • D: The rat will drink excessive amounts of water.

4. When does intrinsic motivation occur? Choose 1 answer:

  • A: When extrinsic motivation is at its peak

  • B: When the behavior is a required obligation

  • C: When there is an overt external reward for the behavior

  • D: When there is no overt external reward for the behavior

5. A group of employees from a local bakery are hard workers and are able to make delicious food quickly. They hear a rumor that the owner of the store is going to sell the business and that the bakery will close. Since hearing the rumor, the quality of the food and efficiency of the baking process has decreased, and the employees often spend time discussing what they would do if the rumor were true. According to Maslow’s hierarchy, what are these workers currently motivated by? Choose 1 answer:

  • A: Safety needs

  • B: Physiological needs

  • C: Belonging needs

  • D: Actualization needs

6. Which of the following is not associated with attitude change? Choose 1 answer:

  • A: Behavioral compliance

  • B: Social norms

  • C: Cognitive dissonance

  • D: Internalization

7. In which of the following scenarios would it be most difficult to predict behavior from attitudes? Choose 1 answer:

  • A: When the attitude is formed by the individual’s direct experience

  • B: When the attitude is formed by indirect experience

  • C: When the attitude has a great deal of personal relevance for the individual

  • D: When the individual has a lot of knowledge about the attitude object

8. Stacy is a college student who has strong negative feelings about smoking cigarettes. Her grandfather died of lung cancer and she believes smoking is disgusting. One night at a party, Stacy’s friends all go outside for a cigarette and Stacy decides to smoke as well. What will she most likely experience as a result? Choose 1 answer:

  • A: Increased drive to smoke

  • B: Justification of effort

  • C: Cognitive dissonance

  • D: Drive reduction

9. Which of the following statements correctly describes the relationships between operant conditioning and drive theory? Choose 1 answer:

  • A: Drive theory is associated with positive reinforcement.

  • B: Drive theory is associated with positive punishment.

  • C: Drive theory is associated with negative reinforcement.

  • D: Drive theory is associated with negative punishment.

10. Anna is watching television when a commercial for homeless animals airs. The commercial features a sad song, and Anna starts to cry. Which of the following statements would not support external attributions of Anna’s crying behavior during the sad animal commercial? Choose 1 answer:

  • A; Anna cries during every commercial.

  • B: Anna cries every time the commercial airs.

  • C: Anna only cries when she sees this commercial.

  • D: Everyone in the room cries when the commercial airs.

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