Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior Section: Content Category 7B

Social processes that influence human behavior
Many social processes influence human behavior; in fact, the mere presence of other individuals can influence our behavior. Groups and social norms also exert influence over our behavior. Oftentimes, social processes influence our behavior through unwritten rules that define acceptable and unacceptable behavior in society.

Our understanding of groups and social norms is learned through the process of socialization. What we learn about the groups and society to which we belong affects our behavior and influences our perceptions and interactions with others.

The content in this category covers how the presence of others, group decision-making processes, social norms, and socialization shape our behavior.

Topic Level Key:

The abbreviations found in parentheses indicate the course(s) in which undergraduate students at many colleges and universities learn about the topics and associated subtopics. The course abbreviations are:

PSY: one semester of introductory psychology 
SOC: one semester of introductory sociology 

Please note topics that appear on multiple content lists will be treated differently. Questions will focus on the topics as they are described in the narrative for the content category.

How the Presence of Others Affects Individual Behavior (PSY)

  • Social facilitation
  • Deindividuation
  • Bystander effect
  • Social loafing
  • Social control (SOC)
  • Peer pressure (PSY, SOC)
  • Conformity (PSY, SOC)
  • Obedience (PSY, SOC)

Group Decision-making Processes (PSY, SOC)

  • Group polarization (PSY)
  • Groupthink

Normative and Non-normative Behavior (SOC)

  • Social norms (PSY, SOC)
    • Sanctions (SOC)
    • Folkways, mores, and taboos (SOC)
    • Anomie (SOC)
  • Deviance
    • Perspectives on deviance (e.g., differential association, labeling theory, strain theory)
  • Aspects of collective behavior (e.g., fads, mass hysteria, riots)

Socialization (PSY, SOC)

  • Agents of socialization (e.g., the family, mass media, peers, workplace)

To support your studies, see the following video tutorials below from the Khan Academy MCAT Collection. The videos and associated questions were created by the Khan Academy in collaboration with the AAMC and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.