Models of Abnormality

Psychologists use several different models to explain abnormal behavior. These different models have created shifts in values and beliefs as well as improvements in clinical research. These differences in ideas mean that the different models are sometimes in conflict with one another. People who follow one model often point out where another model fails in its interpretations, investigations, and treatment methods.

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Read the brief profile of Willard and follow the directions to complete the chart:

Willard is an angry man. He often gets his way by bullying and berating others.

The following is a list of proposed causes for Willard’s behavior. Each cause was presented by a psychologist with a different theoretical perspective. Match the psychologist to the cause he or she is likely to present and to the treatment he or she is most likely to recommend.


  • Dr. Smith, Biologist
  • Dr. Mullen, Psychoanalyst
  • Dr. James, Behaviorist
  • Dr. Allen, Cognitivist
  • Dr. Bates, Humanist
  • Dr. Frank, Socioculturist


  • Medication
  • Community treatment
  • Client-centered therapy
  • Challenging dysfunctional thoughts
  • Operant conditioning
  • Free association and catharsis
Proposed Cause Psychologist Treatment
Willard has been rewarded for his bullying behavior. Dr. James, Behaviorist Operant conditioning
Willard is genetically predisposed to bullying others. Dr. Smith, Biologist Medication
Willard’s toilet training was harsh. Dr. Myllen, Psychoanalyst Free association and catharsis
Willard is influenced by the commonly held view that men must be aggressive in order to succeed. Dr. Frank, Socioculturist Community treatment
Willard assumes that if he does not assert himself first, he will appear to be a failure to others. Dr. Bates, Humanist Client-centered therapy
Willard has a low sense of self-worth, probably stemming from conditional love in childhood. Mr. Allen, Cognitivist Challenging dysfunctional thoughts
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Nevid, J.S., & Rathus, S.A. (2005). Psychology and the challenges of life: Adjustment in the new millennium (9th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.


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