Theories of Abnormal Behavior
Assessment 1 Instructions:
Theories of Abnormal
Write 3–4 pages in which you examine an abnormal behavior through the lens of
a selected biological or psychological theory and compare and contrast the
behavior from the point of view of the selected theory with the sociocultural
There are many origins of abnormal behavior, and the development of abnormal
behavior can be understood differently from different points of view. Theories in
psychology can help us to understand various aspects of how behaviors develop.
For some behaviors there is a great deal of controversy as to whether a behavior
can be defined as abnormal.
In psychology, abnormal is defined by “the four Ds” (Nolen–Hoeksema, 2014, pp.
6–7). If the behavior fits all of the four Ds, it can be categorized as abnormal, or
maladaptive, from a psychological standpoint.
The four Ds are:
1. Dysfunctional – Interferes with daily functioning or the ability to form relationships.
2. Distressing – Causes distress to self or others.
3. Deviant – Far outside of cultural norms or potentially harmful to self or others.
4. Dangerous – Causes harm to self or others.
Various theories in psychology have different views on how abnormal or
maladaptive behavior develops. For psychology professionals, it is important to
have an understanding of how various theories help us to recognize, explain, and
treat the origins of maladaptive behavior. Through this process, we can
recognize our own biases and better explore options for assisting those who
exhibit abnormal behaviors.
Nolen–Hoeksema, S. (2014). Abnormal psychology. McGraw–Hill.
There are a variety of views that postulate the causes of abnormal behavior. To
begin this assessment:
• Select a theory from the biological or psychological point of view and use it to
describe the cause of an abnormal behavior.
• Support your discussion of the theory with at least three resources, two of them
peer–reviewed journal articles.
Potential biological points of view could include:
• Neurotransmitter or hormone imbalance.
• Genetic vulnerabilities.
Potential psychological points of view could include:
• Psychoanalytic theory.
• Ego psychology.
• Objects–relations theory.
• Classical conditioning.
• Instrumental conditioning.
• Humanistic perspective.
• Existential perspective.
• Cognitive–behavioral perspective.
Write a 3–4 page paper that addresses the following:
• Describe your theory in detail and how the theory views behavior in general.
• Explain how your theory describes the cause of your selected abnormal behavior.
• Compare and contrast the point of view you chose with the sociocultural viewpoint.
o How might they view the abnormal behavior similarly?
o How might they view the abnormal behavior differently?
• Describe the benefits or drawbacks to applying multiple theories to defining
References should be included and cited. Review the scoring guide prior to
submission so that you address all required grading criteria.
• Title page: Include your name, course, date, and instructor.
• Reference: Use at least 3 resources, including 2 peer–reviewed journal articles.
Additional references may be used.
• Written communication: Written communication is free of errors that detract from
the overall message.
• APA formatting: Resources and citations are formatted according to APA style and
• Length of paper: 3–4 typed, double–spaced pages.
• Font and font size: Times New Roman, 12 point.
By successfully completing this assessment, you will demonstrate your
proficiency in the following course competencies and assessment criteria:
• Competency 1: Apply relevant theories to issues in mental health.
o Describe how a theory views behavior in general.
o Explain how the theory describes the cause of a selected abnormal behavior.
o Compare and contrast the view point of your theory with the sociocultural
o Describe the benefits or drawbacks to applying multiple theories to defining
• Competency 6: Communicate in a manner that is scholarly, professional, and
consistent with expectations for professionals in the field of psychology.
o Use well–developed written communication by writing in a manner that is generally
concise, logically organized, and utilizes correct punctuation, spelling, grammar, and
o Apply scholarly writing skills and use proper APA formatting and style in all papers
and reference lists.