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  1. Scott O. Lilienfeld

Published Online: 30 JAN 2010

DOI: 10.1002/9780470479216.corpsy0003

Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology

Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology

How to Cite

Lilienfeld, S. O. 2010. Abnormality. Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology. 1–2.

Author Information

  1. Emory University

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 30 JAN 2010


From time immemorial, societies have consistently classified a small minority of people in their midst as psychologically “abnormal.” The classic research of Jane Murphy (1976) demonstrates that people in non-Western cultures, such as the Yorubas of Nigeria and the Yupic-speaking Eskimos of Alaska, readily recognize certain behaviors as abnormal. Moreover, many of these behaviors, such as talking to oneself, are similar to those regarded as abnormal in Western society. Murphy's findings suggest that the concept of abnormality is not entirely culturally relative, and that individuals in disparate cultures often label comparable behaviors as abnormal.