Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior Section: Content Category 9B

Demographic characteristics and processes
In order to understand the structure of a society, it is important to understand the demographic characteristics and processes which define it. Knowledge of the demographic structure of societies and an understanding of how societies change helps us to comprehend the distinct processes and mechanisms through which social interaction occurs.

The content in this category covers the important demographic variables at the core of understanding societies, and also includes concepts related to demographic shifts and social change.

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.

Demographic Structure of Society (PSY, SOC)

  • Age
    • Aging and the life course
    • Age cohorts (SOC)
    • Social significance of aging
  • Gender
    • Sex versus gender
    • The social construction of gender (SOC)
    • Gender segregation (SOC)
  • Race and ethnicity (SOC)
    • The social construction of race
    • Racialization
    • Racial formation
  • Immigration status (SOC)
    • Patterns of immigration
    • Intersections with race and ethnicity
  • Sexual orientation

Demographic Shifts and Social Change (SOC)

  • Theories of demographic change (i.e., Malthusian theory and demographic transition)
  • Population growth and decline (e.g., population projections, population pyramids)
  • Fertility, migration, and mortality
    • Fertility and mortality rates (e.g., total, crude, age-specific)
    • Patterns in fertility and mortality
    • Push and pull factors in migration
  • Social movements
    • Relative deprivation
    • Organization of social movements
    • Movement strategies and tactics
  • Globalization
    • Factors contributing to globalization (e.g., communication technology, economic interdependence)
    • Perspectives on globalization
    • Social changes in globalization (e.g., civil unrest, terrorism)
  • Urbanization
    • Industrialization and urban growth
    • Suburbanization and urban decline
    • Gentrification and urban renewal

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.