defining abnormality n.
Skip this Video
Download Presentation
Defining Abnormality

Loading in 2 Seconds...

play fullscreen
1 / 34

Defining Abnormality - PowerPoint PPT Presentation

  • Uploaded on

Defining Abnormality. How would you define normal and abnormal?. Map to Spec – Page 58. 1. Definition of the application b) Define and use psychological terminology accurately and appropriately including : i. statistical definition of abnormality

I am the owner, or an agent authorized to act on behalf of the owner, of the copyrighted work described.
Download Presentation

PowerPoint Slideshow about 'Defining Abnormality' - brooklyn

Download Now An Image/Link below is provided (as is) to download presentation

Download Policy: Content on the Website is provided to you AS IS for your information and personal use and may not be sold / licensed / shared on other websites without getting consent from its author.While downloading, if for some reason you are not able to download a presentation, the publisher may have deleted the file from their server.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - E N D - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Presentation Transcript
map to spec page 58
Map to Spec – Page 58

1. Definition of the application

b)Defineand use psychological terminology accurately and appropriately including:

i. statistical definition of abnormality

ii. social norm definition of abnormality

map to spec page 59
Map to Spec – Page 59

3. Content

  • Describe both the statistical definition of abnormality and the ‘social norms’ definition of abnormality.
  • Evaluatethe statistical definition of abnormality and the ‘social norms’ definition of abnormality
definitions what is normal abnormal
Definitions – What is normal/abnormal?
  • Statistical Infrequency
  • Deviation from social Norm’s
  • Failure to Function Adequately
  • Deviation from Ideal Mental Health
statistical infrequency1
Statistical Infrequency

By definition abnormality means differing from the norm or average.

Statistically infrequent behaviour is regarded as abnormal, whereas frequent behaviour is normal.

Individual characteristics can be measured (e.g., mood, intelligence, etc…) and the distribution of these characteristics within the population can be graphed. The normal distribution curve shows the majority of people as being in the middle. These people are defined as ‘normal’. Relatively few people fall at either end. However, if they are then they are defined as ‘abnormal’.

For example, most “normal” people eat an

average of between 1500 to 3000 calories a day.

However, anorexics consume very few calories,

and bulimics consume lots

– which makes their behaviour “abnormal”


The statistical definition

The spread is measured by standard deviation68% of the population fall between 1 SD either side of the mean and 95% fall between 2 SD. Thus, scores outside this range are unusual, therefore 2.5% fall below it and 2.5% above it.

The IQ intelligence quotient is often given as an example of the working of this definition.

IQ is normally distributed across the population and anyone outside the normal limits is said to have an abnormal IQ.

IQ has a standard deviation of 15 and a mean of 100. One standard deviation either side would be from 85 to 115, two standard deviations either side is from 70-130, this is where normal ends.

An IQ score of 130 and above is abnormally high IQ score, and the same for an IQ score of 70 and below

  • Only 2.2% of the IQ score is above 130 and below 70.
  • This is further illustrated by the fact that having an IQ below 70 is one of the criteria's for mental disorder.

Normal Distribution

  • Abnormality is seen as anything that is

statistically infrequent

  • It helps to know about normal distribution, a characteristic of behaviour is seen as normally distributed if the mean average, mode and median all fall in the same place
  • In the middle of the scores this simply means that there are roughly the same number of scores on each side of the average - the scores are normally distributed around the average
  • Any score that is two standard deviations or more away from the mean denotes abnormality
  • This is not only applied to IQ but to other mental health criteria

For example: -

DASS (depression, anxiety, and stress scale) uses a questionnaire to measure depression, anxiety and stress, a very high score would be considered abnormal and in need for treatment, the DASS score would be expected to fall in the middle to be considered normal.


Knowing that the data is normally distributed means that anyone a long way away outside the average could be regards as abnormal.

can you
Can you?

Have a go at describing the statistical infrequency definition in your own words


Lets have a discussion!

Is this definition of abnormality suitable in terms of diagnosis?

People who are extremes either end – are they abnormal?

What might the limitations of this definition be?

  • It gives a quantitative measure that is objective.
  • On a practical level - can be useful as evidence in support of requests for assistance and funding for those identified
  • Having a number is not only useful because it is seen as objective but also because it is accepted as more scientific.
w eaknesses
  • Abnormal in both a statistical and a mental health sense may not be undesirable - an IQ score of 130+ is likely to be seen as desirable
  • BUT… IQ scores of 130+ are infrequent but you wouldn’t call these people abnormal:
  • Albert Einstein
  • Sharon Stone
  • Charles Darwin
  • Bill Gates
  • Abraham Lincoln
  • Hillary Clinton
  • Sir Isaac Newton

There are statistically frequent behaviours which are considered as abnormal

  • What about left-handedness?
  • Abnormal behaviour is not rare, most people are likely to show abnormal behaviour some time in their life.

An Example

  • Some one who fits the criteria for mental retardation but are living happy and independent lives
  • Sarah and Michelle are both sisters, Sarah has an IQ of 69 and Michelle has an IQ of 70, both work on a full time basis at their Local Tesco’s, Sarah is thinking of going back to college and do an NVQ qualification, whilst Michelle is expecting her first child and wants to become a full-time mum.
  • Cut off point is an IQ score of 70, how can we justify someone as being abnormal if they have a score of 69?

What are social norms?

Queuing for one hour in the Post Office

Hearing voices in our head

Having big holes in your earlobes

Being covered head to toe in tattoos

Wearing appropriate clothes when its cold.

Stealing from the local shop

Being part of a gay community

Saying please and thank you

Not standing too close to someone when you speak

Being a member of a church group that meets daily

Wearing a diving suit when walking down the road

Counting the number of times you chew your food


Deviation from social norms

  • Every society has accepted standards of behaviour – can be based on law, or just generally accepted by society
  • Social norms allow for the regulation of normal behaviour.
  • One approach to defining abnormality is to consider deviations from the social norm as an indicator of abnormal behaviour.
written social norms
Written social norms
  • People who commit crimes are considered abnormal, because they are breaking the rules of the legal system
  • All people who are in prison are considered abnormal by this definition e.g. murderers, fraudsters, paedophiles, robbers, burglars and drunk drivers.
unwritten social norms
Unwritten Social Norms
  • E.g. holding doors open for people rather than letting it slam into their face

Can you think of any others?

unwritten social norms1
Unwritten social norms

Being polite

Opening doors for people

Not hearing voices

Not washing your hands 50 times a day

Queuing in shops

Not standing too close to people when talking

Wearing clothes when walking around outside

These are just a few examples which give an indication of normal/abnormal behaviour

what is considered a deviation from a social norm
What is considered a deviation from a social norm?

can you1
Can you?

Have a go at describing the social norms definition of abnormality in your own words…

the effect of culture
The effect of culture
  • Different cultures/societies will have different social norms – would define abnormality differently
  • For example, hearing voices in one culture would be seen as being connected to spirits, whereas in another – schizophrenia
  • In the Chippewa culture, a native American culture, visions of Thunderbirds - a great bird, are regarded as a great honour.  However, western psychiatry would view  these visions as a symptom of schizophrenia (hallucinations).
genital retraction syndrome koro
Genital Retraction Syndrome (Koro)
  • A condition in which an individual is overcome with the belief that his/her external genitals are retracting into the body, shrinking, or in some male cases, may be imminently removed or disappear. Beliefs in many instances assert such a physical change to the individual that the result is often fatal.
  • Culturally specific (East Asia) – how would we diagnose this here?
the effect of context
The effect of context
  • The situation and context for the behaviour are both important, a behaviour might be abnormal in one context but normal in another
  • When would these instances be considered to be normal/abnormal?
the effect of historical context
The effect of historical context
  • What was considered as the norm many years ago might have changed
  • E.G - becoming pregnant outside wedlock was considered evidence as a mental health problem 100 years ago, women could have been put into an institution because of it
  • Homosexuality in 1980 DSM


  • Drapetomania Slaves experienced an irrational desire to run away
  • Nymphomania Middle class women were sexually attracted to working class men
  • Moral insanity Women who inherited money spent it on themselves rather than male relatives

Deviation from social norms

  • Two disorders that can be classified using the Deviation from Social Norms definition are:
  • Schizophrenia
  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
  • Pick one of these and discuss with your partner how they relate to the definition of abnormality.
  • Then join with another pair and share your ideas about your disorder.

Strengths and Weaknesses

Using the cards, decide which of the points are related to which definition of abnormality

Then decide on which are strengths and which are weaknesses of each definition

Copy the points into the table provided


Exam Question

Have a go at structuring an answer for a 12 mark exam question on the two definitions of abnormality