Page by Sarah Dye

The studying of deviance is important to the field of forensic psychology because of the application of knowledge gained from this field to the world of forensics. As already mentioned forensic psychology, being such a new field, does not have a history that stands alone but is a compilation of histories from other fields.  The study of deviance is one of those fields that has had a strong impact on forensics. Thus, I will explore the development of deviance, and it’s application to forensics.

There are two different ways by which to define deviance, the normative approach and the relativistic. The normative approach is the older the two, it focuses on the person performing the deviant behavior, where as a relativistic view focuses on the reaction of others to the person performing the behavior.  Therefore deviance can be defined as follows-

Odd One Out by Melinda Seyler

  1. A behavior or person that violates social norms
  2. A behavior or person considered by others to be violating social norms

While the study of deviance is generally recognized as being a subject of sociology, the resulting theories can be applied to the world of forensic psychology. This section discusses the development of the study of deviant behavior in America, and the theories that were a result of it as applied to forensic psychology.

The section is organized as follows:

  • The History of Deviance: Social Pathology period, Social Disorganization period, and the Normative (or Functionalist) period
  • Application: Labeling Theory and Profiling


Keel, R. O. (2007, January 29). Introduction to the Sociology of Deviance. Retrieved November 17, 2010, from Introduction to the Sociology of Deviance:

Seyler, M. (2006, June 20). Odd One Out.

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