• Julianna Kearney

MCAT Monday: Individuals and Society - Perception, Prejudice, and Bias



Foundational Concept 8 focuses on the physical, cognitive, and social components of our identity, as well as how these components influence the way we think about and interact with others.


With these building blocks, medical students will be able to learn how to communicate and collaborate with patients and other members of the health care team. (via AAMC)


The content in this category covers the notions of self-concept and identity, along with the role of self-esteem, self-efficacy, and locus of control in the development of self-concept. Identity formation, including developmental stages and the social factors that affect identity formation, is also covered here. Theories are included to provide historical context for the field of identity formation. (via AAMC)


Practice Videos:

Practice Question


1. A person cuts in line at the movie theater. We observe this action, and believe that the person cut in line because he or she is rude, disrespectful, and selfish. This is an example of: Choose 1 answer:

  • A: Internal attribution

  • B: Cultural attribution

  • C: External attribution

  • D: Attribution bias

2. John’s car breaks down in the middle of the highway. He believes that the breakdown of his car can be explained by the fact that his car is old. This is an example of: Choose 1 answer:

  • A: Cultural attribution

  • B: External attribution

  • C: Dispositional attribution

  • D: Internal attribution

3. In one study, researchers compared attributions made by students from an individualist society (valuing individual achievement) and students from a collectivist society (valuing group welfare over individual interests). The researchers hypothesized that individualist cultures focus on the individual, and thus its members are predisposed to use dispositional attribution to explain behavior. The students were asked to assign responsibility for the outcomes of 8 different situations. If the findings were consistent with the hypothesis, which of the following study result is accurate? Choose 1 answer:

  • A: The results showed that across the eight situations, students from the individualist society assigned the same amount of responsibility to internal dispositional factors as students from a collectivist society.

  • B: The results showed that across the eight situations, students from the individualist society assigned less responsibility to internal dispositional factors than did students from a collectivist society.

  • C: The results showed that across the eight situations, students from the individualist society assigned greater responsibility to internal dispositional factors than did students from a collectivist society.

  • D: The results showed that across the eight situations, students from the individualist society assigned greater responsibility to external situational factors than did students from a collectivist society.

4. At work, you witness an employee getting yelled at by the boss. In your mind you come up with at least three potential causes for the yelling: the boss’ (actor) bad temper, the laziness of the employee (object), and the especially hot and humid day (context or setting). This judgment process is referred to as: Choose 1 answer:

  • A: Stereotyping

  • B: Covariation model

  • C: Attribution error

  • D: Cultural attribution

5. An NBA basketball coach expects his rookie players to be unprepared for professional ball, so he does not play them often. When he does they are rusty and do not perform well. This is an example of: Choose 1 answer:

  • A: Attribution theory

  • B: Stereotyping

  • C: Self-fulfilling prophecy

  • D: Biased judgment

6. Which of the following demonstrates a self-fulfilling prophecy? Choose 1 answer:

  • A: Andy went to see a fortune teller, who told him that he might be involved in an automobile accident this month. Andy did not tell anyone, but is worried. A few months later, Andy got into a car accident because he was not paying attention on the street.

  • B: A baseball coach believes that John is a better player than his teammate Tim. John is praised more, and more time is spent with John during practice. At the end of the season, other teammates noticed that John has become a better player than Tim.

  • C: You believe Sarah is an introvert. You ask Sarah whether she has ever felt uncomfortable in big groups. Sarah said “yes”. You therefore conclude that she is indeed an introvert.

  • D: Simon wants to improve his grades this semester. He posts inspirational posters in his dorm room and downloads a work productivity app. He ends up getting straight As.

7. “The labels we learn affect the ways we perceive people”. Such a statement is stressed by the following sociological approach: Choose 1 answer:

  • A: Functionalism

  • B: Conflict theory

  • C: Symbolic interactionism

  • D: Attribution theory

8. “The labels we learn affect the ways we perceive people”. Such a statement is stressed by the following sociological approach: Choose 1 answer:

  • A: Functionalism

  • B: Conflict theory

  • C: Symbolic interactionism

  • D: Attribution theory

9. “What is beautiful is good”. This tendency for our liking of a beautiful person to influence our subsequent assessment of that person--therefore he/she must be good!--is called: Choose 1 answer:

  • A: Halo effect

  • B: Stereotyping

  • C: Stigmatization

  • D: Attribution error

10. Two stories are told to an audience about an interaction between a man and woman. Both stories were exactly the same, except for the final outcome. In Story A, the woman is dumped by the man, and in Story B, the man proposes marriage. In Stories A and B, the audience directly linked the two different outcomes to the woman's good or bad actions. This is an example of: Choose 1 answer:

  • A: Attribution theory

  • B: Halo effect

  • C: Stereotyping

  • D: Just-world hypothesis

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