Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior Section: Content Category 8B

Social thinking
Social thinking refers to the ways in which we view others and our environment, as well as how we interpret others’ behaviors. A variety of factors―personality, environment, and culture―factor into the beliefs and attitudes we develop.

Our beliefs and attitudes about others and the environment also shape the way we interact with each other. To interact with others, we need to interpret different aspects of a situation, including our perception of ourselves, the behavior of others, and the environment.

The content in this category covers our attitudes about others and how those attitudes develop, including how perceptions of culture and environment affect attributions of behavior. It also covers how our attitudes about different groups―prejudice, stereotypes, stigma, and ethnocentrism― may influence our interactions with group members.

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.

Attributing Behavior to Persons or Situations (PSY)

  • Attributional processes (e.g., fundamental attribution error, role of culture in attributions)
  • How self-perceptions shape our perceptions of others
  • How perceptions of the environment shape our perceptions of others

Prejudice and Bias (PSY, SOC)

  • Processes that contribute to prejudice
    • Power, prestige, and class (SOC)
    • The role of emotion in prejudice (PSY)
    • The role of cognition in prejudice (PSY)
  • Stereotypes
  • Stigma (SOC)
  • Ethnocentrism (SOC)
    • Ethnocentrism vs. cultural relativism

Processes Related to Stereotypes (PSY)

  • Self-fulfilling prophecy
  • Stereotype threat

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.