Psych 131 Midterm #1 – Study Guide
A useful model of normal development requires a dynamic appreciation of children's strengths
and weaknesses, advances and retreats, and resolved problems and new challenges. A model
like this takes into account the complexities of individual, familial, ethnic, cultural, and societal
belifs about desirable and undesirable outcomes for children and adolescnets. Against this
multi-layered background of normal child development, we identify children whose distress and
dysfunction are exceptional. Empirically sound and clinically appropriate definitions of disorder
can be provided only if we carefully examine various belifes, as well as the data, about what is
What is Normal?
Common descriptions of normality and pscyhopathology often focus on:
Statistical deviance: the infrequency of certain emotions, cognitions, and/or behaviors. From a
SD perspective, a child who displays too much or too little of any age-expected behavior (i.e.
dependency or assertiveness) might have a disorder. Children of a certain age above the “high
number” cutoff, or below the “low number” cutoff would meet the criterion for disorder.
Relative to other
Sociocultural norms: the beliefs and expectations of certain groups about what kinds of
emotions, cognitions, and/or behaviors are undesirable or unacceptable. From this perspective,
children who fail to conform to expectations that they adopt age- or gender-specific beliefs
about themselves, or who insist that displaying expected age- or gender-based behavior is
upsetting, might have a disorder. Pressure in a particular neighborhood or peer group to prove
onself with belligerent or aggressive behavior, for isnstance, may contribute to the diagnosis of
Mental health definitions: theoretical or clinically based notions of distress and dysfunction.
From this perspepctive, a child's psychology well-being is the key consideration. Children who
have a negative quality of life, or who function poorly, or who exhibit certain kinds of
symptoms, might have a disorder.
The Role of Values
Definitions require several types of value judgments.
One important judgment involves personal or group standards of adequate or average
adaptation, or optimal adaptation.
Average/adequate: It has to do with what is considered okay, acceptable, or good enough.
Optimal: It has to do with what is excellent, superior, or the “best of what's possible.”