Abnormality - Definitions

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Abnormality - Definitions

Definitons of Abnormality - Deviation from Social Norms

  • Social Norms are a specific set of unwritten rules set by a particular social group and are expected to be adhered to by members of that social group.
  • Any behaviour that violates these rules is seen as a deviation from these social norms and is therefore considered as abnormal.
  • For example, if a person was to run down the street naked, this would be seen as socially deviant as it is not an acceptable way to behave and would therefore be abnormal accoring to this definition.


  • The level of deviance can alter depending on the degree and context of it. For example, a person wearing a bikini on a beach would be classed as normal but if a person walked down the street wearing a bikini they would be classed as abnormal.
  • The behaviour of the white population in western societies is used as the basis for social norms, where deviation from this is considered abnormal. Someone classified as abnormal in one culture, may not be seen as abnormal in another culture e.g. religious hallucinations may be regarded as normal by some.  
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