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Definitions of Normality

What is ‘normal’?

What do we mean when we say something is ‘normal’?  Reflect on what you think is ‘normal’ for each of the following:

  • women’s height
  • eyesight
  • behavior when waiting for a bus
  • consumption of alcohol

Each of your answers to the above will likely reflect different approaches to defining ‘normality’.

Note that there are single quotation marks around the word ‘normality’. In this instance, they are used to show that we are exploring the meaning of the word, and accept that there is no one unproblematic definition. When exploring the various approaches to the definition of ‘normality’ through the links below, single quotation marks around any word indicates that there are issues or debates about the definition of the word.

Several approaches

There are a number of approaches to defining ‘normality’:


[Information last accessed: 27 July 2017]

This article draws on ‘Understanding dyslexia’. An OpenLearn ( chunk reworked by permission of The Open University copyright © 2016 – made available under the terms of the Creative Commons Licence v4.0 As such, it is also made available under the same licence agreement.