Definitions of Abnormality

1) Deviation from Social Norms

Seen as behaviour that deviates from or violates society's implicit or explicit rules/moral standards.

Explicit: clear and obvious

Implicit: hidden meaning

Societies norms are implicit.

e.g. wearing clothes inappropriate to the situation.


- Social Norms are era dependent (vary over time) as attitudes change. E.g. homosexuality was viewed as a disorder until 1960s - attitudes have changed.

- Bound by culture - social normals vary as behviours in one society may appear acceptable in another (funeral behaviour)

2) Failure to function adequately

Failure to experience the normal range of emotions or to engage in normal behaviour.

Function: day to day roles = adaptive

Rosenhan and


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