Individual differences. 

HideShow resource information

Deviation from Social Norms

Deviation from Social Norms, suggest that behaviour which is ant-social or undesirable is abnormal. We may notice that someone is behaving differently to the norm, even though they themselves do not notice the change. 

E.G Laughing at a funeral, driving on the wrong side of the road, Paedophilia


  • The role of Context: Context has an effect on behaviour- you would not be thought as abnormal if you were shouting at a football match but you would if you were at a theatre. 
  • Changes with the times: Societies beliefs about what is now deemed acceptable has changed. E.g homosexuality was not socially acceptable 50 years ago. 
  • Eccentric or Abnormal?: Sometimes deviation from social norms is merely eccentrict rather than abnormal. E.g running a marathon as a giant rabbit. 
1 of 3

Failure to Function Adequately

This definition includes bizarre behaviours and/or behaviours that distress a patient or others. Global assessment of functioning was created to clinically asses an individual's daily function levels. Individuals are unable to cope with the requirements of everyday life.

Examples: inability to wash, eat meals and sleep. 


  • Not the whole picture: Some people may avoid eating for another reason such as a hunger strike, this definition does not take into account such alternative reasons.
  • Exceptions to the rule: A student worrying about an exam may not appear to be functioning adequately but this is not abnormal, it is a temporarily state caused by the stress of the exam.
  • Direction of Causality: It may be that a mental disorder is why they are failing to function adequately rather than the result. 
2 of 3

Deviation from ideal mental health

Jahoda (1958)- ideas came from the way physical illnesses are diagnosed- this definition looks for absence of normal mental health. Jahoda identified 6 categories which need to be fulfilled: High self esteem, Self-actualisation, resistance to stress, autonomy, Accurate perception of reality and adapting to the environment. Absence of these criteria indicates abnormality and the absence of normal mental health, such as having high stress.


  • Difficulties of self-actualisation: It is impossible/difficult to fulfill your full potential in life. This means that by this definition most of the population is abnormal
  • Possible benefits of stress: Sometimes people work more efficiently in moderately stressful situation.
  • Cultural Ideas: Jahoda's ideas of ideal mental health are based on western ideals of self-fulfillment and individuality, however these ideals are not appropriate in other cultures where the family or community is more important. 
3 of 3


No comments have yet been made

Similar Psychology resources:

See all Psychology resources »See all Abnormality resources »