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  1. William Davidson II,
  2. Eyitayo Onifade

Published Online: 30 JAN 2010

DOI: 10.1002/9780470479216.corpsy0269

Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology

Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology

How to Cite

Davidson, W. and Onifade, E. 2010. Deviancy. Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology. 1.

Author Information

  1. Michigan State University

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 30 JAN 2010


Deviancy is a central concept in the study of human behavior and cognition. It underscores the primary focus of personality theory, clinical psychology, and social psychology. Deviancy in psychology describes behavior and thought patterns that are significantly different from what constitutes the norm in a population. These differences in cognition, behavior, and performance can be consistent and fixed or varying over time and situation. They are generally described as too much of an undesirable behavior or too little of a desired behavior. Alternately, these differences can occur as high-intensity isolated events, as in the cases of violence or mental illness.


  • social norms;
  • nonconforming personality;
  • taboos;
  • reference groups