Normal behavior aligns with societal standards and is generally accepted as the norm, Abnormal behavior deviates from these established norms.

What is Normality?

Normality refers to behavior that aligns with societal expectations and norms. It encompasses a wide range of characteristics and traits that are considered typical or average within a given culture or community.

Normal behavior can vary greatly from one society to another, which means there isn’t a universal definition of what is “normal.” It’s all relative! For example, in some cultures, it may be perfectly acceptable for individuals to express their emotions openly and passionately. However, in other cultures, such emotional displays might be seen as inappropriate or abnormal.

Normality extends beyond just behaviors; it also encompasses thoughts and feelings. Generally speaking, if an individual’s thoughts and emotions fall within the expected range for their cultural context and do not significantly impair their daily functioning or well-being, they would be considered “normal.”

What is Abnormality?

picture of an person dressed abnormally

Abnormality, in the context of psychology, refers to behaviors, thoughts, or feelings that deviate from what is considered typical or expected within a particular society or culture. It involves patterns of behavior that significantly disrupt an individual’s ability to function and maintain healthy relationships.

One aspect of abnormality is the presence of psychological disorders. These disorders are characterized by symptoms such as distress, impairment in functioning, and deviation from cultural norms. Examples include anxiety disorders, mood disorders like depression or bipolar disorder, and personality disorders.

Another perspective on abnormality is the statistical approach. This approach considers behavior that occurs infrequently in a population as abnormal. For instance, if only a small percentage of people experience hallucinations regularly while most do not, those who frequently experience hallucinations would be seen as exhibiting abnormal behavior.

The third perspective focuses on maladaptive behavior – actions that hinder an individual’s ability to adapt effectively to their environment. This could involve detrimental coping mechanisms like substance abuse or self-harm.

Normality Vs. Abnormality – Key differences

One key difference between normality and abnormality lies in their frequency and intensity. Normal behaviors are typically more frequent and less intense compared to abnormal behaviors which tend to occur infrequently but with greater severity.

Another important distinction is the impact on daily functioning. Normal behaviors do not significantly interfere with an individual’s ability to carry out their daily activities whereas abnormal behaviors often disrupt one’s personal life, relationships, work performance, and overall well-being.

Cultural factors influence our understanding of normality and abnormality. What may be perceived as normal in one culture could be considered abnormal in another due to variations in cultural values and expectations.

DefinitionState or condition considered typical, common, or within expected range.Deviation or departure from what is considered typical or expected.
SubjectivityInfluenced by societal, cultural, or contextual norms and expectations.Determined by cultural, societal, or professional perspectives.
Statistical NormsCan be defined statistically based on average or representative ranges.May involve behavior or characteristics falling outside statistical norms.
FunctioningAdaptive, efficient, and enables individuals to meet everyday demands.Impaired, dysfunctional, or maladaptive, causing distress or interference.
ImpairmentGenerally implies the absence of significant impairment or distress.Involves impaired functioning, causing distress or interference.

Causes of Abnormal Psychology

One potential cause is genetics. Research has shown that certain genetic predispositions can make individuals more susceptible to mental health disorders. This means that some people may be inherently more prone to experiencing abnormal psychological symptoms due to their genetic makeup.

They multifaceted and often involve a combination of factors. Here are some common causes:

Biological Factors: Abnormal psychology can be influenced by genetic predispositions, imbalances in brain chemistry, neurological abnormalities, and hormonal imbalances. These biological factors can contribute to the development of mental health disorders.

Environmental Factors: Adverse or stressful life experiences, such as trauma, abuse, neglect, or significant life changes, can contribute to the development of abnormal psychology. Environmental factors also include cultural influences, social support systems, and socioeconomic factors.

Psychological Factors: Individual psychological processes, including cognitive patterns, personality traits, coping mechanisms, and early life experiences, can play a role in abnormal psychology. Factors such as low self-esteem, negative thinking patterns, and maladaptive coping strategies can contribute to the development or exacerbation of psychological disorders.

Developmental Factors: Abnormal psychology can be influenced by disruptions or difficulties in early childhood development, including attachment issues, disruptions in family dynamics, or disruptions in important developmental milestones. Developmental disorders and delays can also contribute to abnormal psychological functioning.

Interactions between Factors: The causes of abnormal psychology often involve complex interactions between biological, environmental, psychological, and developmental factors. The presence of multiple risk factors can increase the likelihood of developing mental health disorders or atypical psychological functioning.


Image Credits

Featured Image By – Possessed Photography on Unsplash 

Image 1 By – gpointstudio on Freepik

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