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Psychopathology – Contextualising Abnormality

1. Abnormality

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About this Lecture


In this first module, we think about how we define abnormality, focusing in particular on: (i) how social norms influence our perception of what is and is not normal; (ii) how we can use adequate functioning as an alternative method of gauging abnormality, as well as considering how behaviours might cause harm and/or distress to the individual expressing them, or to others; (iii) the role of statistical prevalence of behaviours and attributes in deciding abnormality, and how this ties into our perception of phobias.


This course, by Dr Ayoub Bouguettaya (University of Birmingham), explores the concepts of abnormality, phobias, and psychopathy. In the first module, we define abnormality and discuss how social norms, adequate functioning, harm to others, and statistical prevalence play a role in understanding it as a concept. In the second module, we consider the characteristics of phobias and how we define them as abnormal. We then look at learning explanations for the acquisition of phobias, before moving on to think about behavioural explanations and treatments. In the fifth module, we discuss how psychopathy presents itself as an expression of abnormality across a breadth of social interactions, and how that can be reflected in language. The sixth and final module summarises the content from the course and reflects on how this can inform our understanding of these concepts going forward.


Dr Ayoub Bouguettaya is a lecturer in the School of Psychology at the University of Birmingham. His research centres around social psychology and how knowledge from that field can be applied to others, particularly health. Dr Bouguettaya is interested in how we can apply social identity theory to societal problems, as well as investigating the different perspectives one might taken on those issues. His recent publications have spanned a breadth of topics including social identification, eating behaviours, conspiracy theories, and behavioural economics.

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APA style

Bouguettaya, A. (2022, February 16). Psychopathology – Contextualising Abnormality - Abnormality [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Bouguettaya, Ayoub. "Psychopathology – Contextualising Abnormality – Abnormality." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 16 Feb 2022,

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