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MCAT Psychology – Social Capital

A study examined admissions to exceptionally selective colleges. When examining the correlates of admission acceptance, two obvious factors that strongly correlated with admissions were GPA and standardized test scores, with correlation values of +0.41 and +0.55 respectively. However, the study also demonstrated that those students who had social networks that overlapped with the alumni networks of the selective colleges were even more likely to be admitted, with a correlation between social network and alumni network of +0.61. This correlation demonstrates:

A) the value of cultural capital.

B) a meritocracy.

C) the value of social capital.

D) a false association.





Social capital is the value a person derives from their social networks. In this case, those with a social network that overlaps with a college’s network allows them to achieve admissions into highly selective universities. That admissions has value and thus the situation demonstrated the value of social capital and choice C is the correct answer.


A: Cultural capital refers to assets beyond money that can help lead to social mobility. In this case, having a high GPA thereby gaining admissions to a college when one’s parents did not go to college would be an example of cultural capital.


B: Meritocracy would mean achieving a result based solely on individual merit. The social networking effects discussed here are the opposite.


D: We have no reason to think the positive correlation presented is false.


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