• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

One of the attempts to define abnormality is through the use of statistical infrequency. This is when statistics can be used to define the norm for any group of people.

Extracts from this document...


One of the attempts to define abnormality is through the use of statistical infrequency. This is when statistics can be used to define the norm for any group of people. A norm is something that is regular or typical. If one is bale to define what is common, then one can also get an idea of what is not common i.e. abnormal. For example with a class of 10 students, 9 were right-handed; the one person that left-handed would be defined and classed as abnormal. This can be further illustrated through the use of a graph. In a normal distribution (Symmetrical bell-shaped curve) most people are in the central group clustered around the mean and the fewer people are at either extreme. This model is good as in some situations it is appropriate to use statistical measure to define abnormality. The statistical infrequency model works better for some human behaviours than others. For example, mental retardation is defined in terms of normal distribution. ...read more.


This shows that the statistical infrequency does not seem to be too successful as it is hard to decline cut-of points and identify desirable and undesirable behaviours, which therefore highlights that this may be difficult to use in defining abnormality. Another attempt to define abnormality comes from the deviation from social norms. In all societies there are standards of acceptable behaviour that are set by social groups. These social norms included morals and well as expectations of how one should behave or act. These norms are usually set for good reasons. On such example is politeness. Abnormal behaviour is seen as deviation from implicit rules about how one ought to behave. Anything that violates these rules is considered abnormal. This model does distinguish between desirable and undesirable behaviour, which is a limitation of the statistical infrequency definition. This deviancy model takes account the effect the behaviour has on others as well. This shows further success than that of the first model and identifies that abnormality can be defined using this method to some extent. ...read more.


Therefore failure to function adequately refers to an individual's ability or inability to cope with day-to-day living. This particular model allows us to view mental disorder from the point of view of the person experiencing it. It is quite easy and simple to judge objectively and to see whether treatment is required. However in order for the model to succeed someone needs to decide what is "adequate." Some people may be quite happy with their situation and others may be unaware that they are coping. It is others who take the judgements about abnormal behaviour and may make an individual feel uncomfortable. For example, many schizophrenics do not know or feel as though they have a problem but their behaviour may be distressing. Also, it may be that apparent dysfunctional behaviour is adaptive and functional for the individuals. For example, eating disorders welcome extra attention and individuals such as cross-dressers often make a living out of such acts. This shows that it may hard to determine the extent to which something is "adequate" therefore overriding the success of the model. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level The Psychology of Individual Differences section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level The Psychology of Individual Differences essays

  1. "Outline and evaluate two definitions of abnormality: statistical infrequency and deviation from social norms."

    This definition of abnormality may be considered as slightly more accurate than the aforementioned statistical infrequency since many people who are labelled abnormal do often behave in a socially deviant way. For example, people suffering from an anti-social personality disorder would behave very assertively towards others because they feel no guilt due to their lack of conscience.

  2. Outline and Evaluate the Biological, Psychodynamic and Cognitive Explanations of Abnormality

    The therapist will then use a range of methods such as humour, argument, persuasion and reasoning in order to challenge the negative thoughts. The client ought then to be able to accept that the negative thoughts are irrational and unrealistic, which will give them a more positive self-worth and greater self-esteem.

  1. Psychological Abnormality

    Obviously we have to gain a certain level of body fat to achieve puberty and proof suggests that anorexic patients will eat but only if they do not gain weight. Another account suggests that the disorder prevents a girl from gaining her sexuality.

  2. Define different theoretical perspectives used in counselling. Analyse the advantages and ...

    Erikson states that the degree that each person experiences these qualities in each stage, will determine the kind of person they are. The theorists that contributed to the behavioural approach were John Watson and Ivan Pavlov. Pavlov worked with dogs and from this he knew that they salivated even when they seen their food dish empty.

  1. Consider the Problems Faced by Psychologists in the Definition of Abnormality

    Therefore the statistical infrequency will not be a true image of psychological disorder frequency; however it will represent the likeliness of a person to seek help in a certain culture instead. The use of statistical infrequency as a definition of abnormality is effective when measuring a certain characteristic, however is not applicable to all behaviours.

  2. Describe and evaluate the concepts of abnormal behaviour When we talk about abnormal behaviour ...

    walking around naked is not socially accepted yet entire organisations are dedicated to that vary pursuit and for them walking around with clothes on goes against the social norm. So in this instance who is it that is mentally abnormal, the person who feels confident enough in their own

  1. Defining abnormality

    It is now known that some chemical drugs affect the nervous system which in turn produce the symptoms of certain mental disorders which seems to suggest that a chemical imbalance is at the root of the problem. However, some psychologists disagree, believing that this chemical imbalance is the effect as opposed to the cause of mental problems.


    illness can normally correlate to the causes of the problem known as aetiology. For example measuring blood sugar levels could confirm a diagnosis of diabetes, whilst the causes of many mental illnesses are unknown. This has an important consequence for treatments based on the biological model, as they can be

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work