The content in this chapter should be relevant to about 10% of all questions about the behavioral sciences on the MCAT.
This chapter covers material from the following AAMC content categories:
8B: Social thinking
8C: Social interactions
Social psychology is concerned with social behavior, including the ways people influence each other’s attitudes and behavior. It looks at the impact that individuals have on one another, that social groups have on individual group members, that individual group members have upon the social group, and that social groups have on other social groups. In this chapter, we will continue our discussion of social psychology, highlighting its close relationship to sociology and the other fields within psychology, theoretical perspectives on human behavior within the social environment, and key concepts and classical studies in the field of social psychology. But whereas the last two chapters focused on how individuals are affected by groups and how individuals interact within groups, we will turn our attention in this chapter to specific behaviors seen across human beings, including attraction, aggression, attachment, and the need for social support. We’ll also take a look at the dark side of social psychology as we look at patterns of blame in attribution theory and the misappropriation of social structure for prejudice and discrimination. This will be highly relevant for you as a physician, as many patients face prejudice based on their diagnoses or are discriminated against because of personal characteristics, including age, sex, race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, sexual orientation, gender identity, and more.