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MCAT Psychology – Knowledge Transmission

Each of the following is an example of the transmission of knowledge through symbolic culture EXCEPT:

I. A young macaque monkey learning to rinse off food in the ocean from an older monkey, even when the food is not covered in dirt or sand.

II. A child learning the rules of baseball from a parent.

III.  A new group of inductees in a military organization experiencing hazing rituals from older students, which they then later carry out on new recruits.

A) I only

B) III only

C) I and III only

D) II and III only



Answer: A) I only

Symbolic culture is a form of knowledge transmission that only humans possess. It entails beliefs about the world, and behaviors elicited in response to those beliefs, which are symbolic – that is, non-physical. While many animal species may develop a form of culture, such as the macaques mentioned in (I), it is not symbolic culture.

Things like the rules of baseball, or the traditions by which new members are brought into a group relate to non-physical things, and are thus examples of symbolic culture.




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