Describe and evaluate the social norms definition of abnormality

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Abnormality arises when a person deviates from the norm, or what is usual. Social norms define accepted, desirable and expected ways in which members of society ought to behave. One approach to identifying abnormality is noticing people who behave in a socially deviant and apparently incomprehensible way. This is therefore regarded as abnormal behaviour because they don’t fit with the expectations of society. For example, a customary behaviour is that people come to work wearing clothes, so if someone then arrives at work naked, they would be seen as abnormal. This is because it is expected in society that people come to work in their clothes, so this particular individual would therefore be in violation of the socially accepted pattern, and therefore be considered as abnormal. Failure to function adequately describes someone who is incapable of living a normal life, and therefore could also be described as abnormal, as they are incapable of keeping up with the social norms that are expected within society. When an individual cannot meet these obligations then both we and they usually feel they are not functioning adequately. Rosenhan and Seligman (1989) suggested that the concept of distress and failure to function can be extended to encompass a number of behaviours. Through this, they identified a set of 7 abnormal characteristics. Each of these on its own may not be sufficient to cause a problem, but when several are present, they are symptomatic of abnormality. These 7 indicators of abnormality include suffering, maladaptiveness, vividness& unconventionality, unpredictability& loss of control, irrationality& incomprehensibility, observer discomfort, and violation of moral& ideal standards. If several of these characteristics are shown through an individual, it is acceptable to say that they are deviating from the social norm, and can therefore be described
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