Social Processes, Attitudes, and Behavior
The content in this chapter should be relevant to about 9% of all questions about the behavioral sciences on the MCAT.
This chapter covers material from the following AAMC content categories:
7A: Individual influences on behavior
7B: Social processes that influence human behavior
7C: Attitude and behavior change
The renowned Italian painter and sculptor Michelangelo Buonarroti stated that a sculptor simply releases and uncovers the ideal figures that are hidden within stone. This idea has led psychologists and sociologists to describe what is known as the Michelangelo phenomenon. The concept of self is made up of both the intrapersonal self, the ideas an individual has regarding his or her own abilities, traits, and beliefs, and the interpersonal self, the manner in which others influence creation of the ideal self. In the Michaelangelo phenomenon, a close relationship between two individuals ’sculpts’ both individuals’ skills and traits. This development occurs because of each individual’s perceptions of the other, and their behaviors in response to one another.
In this chapter, you will learn about the social processes and interactions that develop this self. The behavior and attitudes of individuals are highly influenced by the people with whom they interact, the society in which they live, and the culture in which they are immersed. Humans, being naturally social creatures, learn how to behave and react based on their relationships and experiences. The following pages will give us an in-depth look at the ways behavior is affected by the presence of others, group processes, culture, and socialization, as well as how attitudes are formed and how they impact behavior.