Discuss Two or More Definitions of Abnormality 12 Marks (as Psychology)

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Discuss two or more definitions of abnormality (12 marks) One definition of abnormality is “deviation from social norms” and under this definition a person’s thinking or behaviour is classified as abnormal if it violates the unwritten rules about what is expected or acceptable behaviour in a particular social group. Behaviour may be incomprehensible to others or make others feel threatened or uncomfortable. For example, someone would be classified as being abnormal if they laughed at a funeral, as this is socially unacceptable. A weakness of this definition is that it lacks cultural relativity as social behaviour varies when different cultures are compared. For e.g. it’s common in south Europe to stand much closer to strangers than in the UK. As well as this voice pitch and volume, touching, directions of gaze and acceptable subjects for discussion have all been found to vary between cultures. This means what is considered deviant or abnormal varies considerably across cultures, thus weakening this definition. Another limitation of deviation from social norms is that it lacks time validity. This is because social norms change over time; behaviour that was once seen as abnormal may be acceptable and vice versa. For example, drink driving was once considered acceptable but is now seen as socially unacceptable whereas homosexuality has changed the other way. Until 1980 homosexuality was considered a psychological disorder but is considered acceptable today. This is a weakness because it means abnormality cannot be judged across eras. Another definition is failure to function adequately. Under this definition a person is considered abnormal if they are unable to cope with the demands of everyday life. They may be unable to perform the behaviours necessary for day to day living e.g. self-care, holding down a job, interacting meaningfully with others and making
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