MCAT Psychology and Sociology Practice Test 7: social structure

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Historical data on life expectancies for the wealthy show that, since the Sanitary Act in the nineteenth century, mortality rates have decreased. The human life span has continued to increase over time, as countries have modernized. Among all of the age groups, decreases in infant mortality rates are the most dramatic because infant exposure to environmental pathogens is a huge factor affecting their mortality. In recent years, the elderly age group has begun to demonstrate an increase in life expectancy compared to the infant age group, which is beginning to demonstrate little or no change over time. Figure 1 displays the rise of modern life expectancy for the different age groups in the United States from 1900 to 2000.

Figure 1 Life Expectancy in Years for Various Age Groups Between 1900-2000

Generally, females have higher life expectancy rates than males in modern societies. There is biological evidence that shows that women are more impervious to pathogens compared to men. For example, some theorize that the X-chromosome and hormonal mechanisms influence the efficiency of the immune system. There is also psychosocial evidence that supports this finding. Women in pre-modern societies have a higher mortality rate due to sexist practices, which can lead to neglect or even infanticide of female infants. Figure 2 displays the gender mortality ratio of men and women in the United States from 1900 to 2000. Gender mortality ratio is the male to female proportion in death rates.

Figure 2 Gender Mortality Ratio in the United States Between 1900-2000

In pre-modern societies, there are high mortality rates due to poverty and governmental persecution. Most people in pre-modern societies believe that daily oppression is beyond their control, and that they have no choice but to accept their fate. On the other hand, people in modern societies believe that they can proactively strive for change when facing a difficult situation. Alex Inkeles was a sociologist who administered interviews to over 6,000 men from Argentina, Chile, India, Israel, Nigeria, and Pakistan to prove that modernization changes the personality structure of people. Inkeles discovered that during the course of modernization, individuals became more involved with the steps necessary to improve their society.

Source: Adapted from Leonard A. Sagan, The Health of Nations: True Causes of Sickness and Well-Being. ©1987 by Basic Books, Inc.

1. According to Figure 1, what is true about life expectancy in the United States?

  • A. In recent years, the life expectancy for infants has plateaued for both sexes.
  • B. Age 35 is the ideal age to accurately determine the expectancy of life for both sexes.
  • C. In 1980, males at age 55 had a higher life expectancy compared females at age 55.
  • D. At the age of 75, life expectancy consistently increased over time for both sexes.

2. Suppose that in a pre-modernist society, a lower-class woman tries to join a conversation among a group of upper-class men. As a result, the men ridicule the woman. This scenario most accurately portrays:

  • A. prejudice against the in-group.
  • B. prejudice against the out-group.
  • C. discrimination against the in-group.
  • D. discrimination against the out-group.

3. Suppose that a pre-modernist moves up from the lower class to the upper class because the government recognized his skills as a craftsman. Which of the following is true about this pattern of social mobility?

I. The pre-modernist experienced intergenerational mobility.

II. The pre-modernist experienced intragenerational mobility.

III. This pre-modern society practiced meritocracy.

  • A. I only
  • B. II only
  • C. I and III only
  • D. II and III only

4. According to Figure 2, at what age do the mortality rates of males widely differ from the mortality rates of females in 1925?

  • A. 21–30
  • B. 31–40
  • C. 41–50
  • D. 51–60

5. Poor people in pre-modern societies are forced to live in a place where they lack food, water, and shelter for them to survive. Which of the following most closely defines the struggles that lower class pre-modernists faced?

  • A. Absolute poverty
  • B. Social change
  • C. Relative poverty
  • D. Global inequality

6. Which ideology best describes Alex Inkeles's findings?

  • A. Traditional theory, in which society is observed at its current state in order to learn and understand its systems.
  • B. Critical theory, in which people continually evaluate and change society in order to attain progress.
  • C. Functionalism, in which the interdependence of institutions strives to maintain stability in a society.
  • D. Conflict theory, in which the inequality between classes ultimately forces change on a society.