Psychology Unit 2 (aqa A) Individual Differences

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Individual Differences

Key Terms and Concepts: Abnormality, Deviation from ideal mental health (DIMH), Failure to function adequately (FFA), Deviation from social norms (DSN), Statistical infrequency/deviation from statistical norms, DSM-IV, ICD-10, Aversion therapy, Defence mechanisms, Modelling, Systematic desensitisation, Token Economy, ECT.

            When considering statistical infrequency the focus is on rarity.  Given that some psychologists argue that most human traits are distributed along a normal curve, it could be argued that people who are 2 standard deviations above or below the mean (i.e. in the extreme 2.145% of the population) are abnormal. 

Deviations From Social Norms: This suggests people who behave in a socially deviant or incomprehensible way should be regarded as abnormal because they break with conventions. 


•Norms change over time. •Whether behaviour is deemed deviant is context dependent. •At times, breaking with convention is something to be applauded.

Failure To Function Adequately: People who cannot cope with the demands of everyday life. Rosenhan and Seligman (1989) expanded this approach to cover a list of 7 abnormal characteristics: Suffering, maladaptiveness, vividness and unconventionality of behaviour, unpredictability and loss of control, irrationality and incomprehensibility, observer discomfort, and violation of moral and ideal standards.


•It involves making value judgements about others as to what constitutes FFA.  Errors can be made.

•The person may not think they have a problem.  Behaviour may not bother them.

•Suffering is part of human life and this behaviour may be typical after serious LE have occurred.

Deviation From Ideal Mental Health:Looks at problem of defining abnormality by focusing on what we understand by normal/mentally healthy, and working backwards.  Jahoda (1958) suggested normal mental health includes:  •Self-attitudes •Personal growth •Integration •Autonomy •Perception of reality •Environmental mastery


•There is concern that measuring mental health differs markedly from measuring physical


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