Deviant behavior: the concept and features. Types of deviant behavior

Deviant is called such behavior of the person, which deviates from the generally accepted, well-established norms. It can be both positive and negative. In the second case, the individual runs the risk of facing formal and informal sanctions from society. As a social phenomenon, deviance is studied by sociologists, and psychologists are involved in issues of individual deviation. Today we will get acquainted with the main aspects and types of deviant behavior.

Closed-type deviant behavior

Historical reference

Deviant behavior is one of the central questions of sociology since its inception. One of the founders of deviantology is the French scientist Emile Durkheim, who in 1897 published a classic work called "Suicide." He introduced the concept of anomie, meaning social confusion and disorientation in society, arising during radical social changes and crises.Durkheim confirmed his words with statistics indicating an increase in the number of suicides during severe economic downturns or booms. The follower of the scientist was the American Robert King Merton, who created the theory of structural functionalism and was one of the first to classify human behavioral responses from a sociological point of view.

general characteristics

Human behavior is formed as a reaction to a combination of several factors: the social environment, the specific situation and self. The easiest way to describe the compliance of human behavior with generally accepted norms is to use such concepts as “normal” and “abnormal” behavior. "Normal" can be called this behavior, which fully meets the expectations of others. It also illustrates the mental health of a person. Consequently, “abnormal” behavior deviates from generally accepted norms and can be an illustration of mental illness.

Abnormal behavioral reactions have many forms. So, the behavior can be: pathological, delinquent, retrist, non-standard, creative, deviant,deviating and marginal. The rate is determined on the basis of criteria that can be negative and positive. In the first case, the norm is considered as the absence of signs of pathology, and in the second, as the presence of “healthy” symptoms.

From the point of view of social psychology, asocial behavior is a way to behave in a certain way, without taking into account social norms. This formulation links deviation to the process of adaptation to society. Thus, the deviation among adolescents usually comes down to forms of unsuccessful or incomplete adaptation.

Types, forms of deviant behavior

Sociologists use a slightly different definition. They consider a sign normal, if it is common in the society by more than 50 percent. Thus, normal behavioral reactions are those that are typical for most people. Consequently, deviant behavior is manifested in a limited circle of people.

From the point of view of medicine, deviant behavior does not apply to medical terms or forms of pathology. As part of its structure are mental disorders, reactions to situations, developmental disorders and character accentuation.However, not every mental disorder is accompanied by deviating symptoms.

Psychology and pedagogy define deviant behavior as a way of actions that causes personal injury, complicates its development and self-realization. In children, this method of response has age limits, and the concept itself applies to children over 7 years old. The fact is that a young child cannot fully understand and control his actions and reactions.

On the basis of various approaches, we can formulate a general definition of deviance. So, deviance is a sure way of action, which deviates from social standards, causes harm to an individual and is marked by social disadaptation.


The types and forms of deviant behavior are so extensive that the deviation is often intertwined with a number of other terms: asocial, delinquent, antisocial, maladaptive, inadequate, accentuated, self-destructive and psychopathic. It can also be synonymous with a concept such as behavioral pathology.

There are many approaches to the classification of the deviation, which differ from each other both in content and in complexity.Differences in typology are caused by the fact that different sciences (psychology, sociology, criminology, pedagogy, etc.) and scientific schools determine the deviant behavior and distinguish the deviation from the norm in its own way. We will get acquainted with the most famous classifications.

Types of deviant behavior by Merton

Within the framework of the theory of structural functionalism, R. K. Merton was one of the first sociologists to classify human behavioral responses (1938). In his model, he presented 5 ways for an individual to adapt to the conditions created by society. Each of the methods characterizes a person’s approval of the goals of society and the means by which he plans to achieve these goals, or disapproval. Some of the reactions described, in fact, are the types of deviant behavior:

  1. Subordination.The adoption of the goals of society and the means to achieve them.
  2. Innovation.Acceptance of goals, but not the means to achieve them.
  3. Ritualism.The goal is recognized as unattainable, but adherence to traditions continues.
  4. Retretism.Departure from society, complete rejection of its goals and means.
  5. MutinyAn attempt to change the social order, to introduce their goals and means.

Kovalev classification

V. V. Kovalev in his classification (1981) identified three types of deviant behavior:

  1. Socio-psychological(asocial, antidisciplinary, illegal and auto-aggressive behavior).
  2. Clinical and psychological(pathological and non-pathological behavior). Behavior due to pathological changes in the character that were formed in the process of education, called pathocharacterological type of deviant behavior.
  3. Personal dynamic("Reaction", "development" and "state").

Typology of Pataki

F. Pataki in his classification of 1987 highlights:

  1. Core deviation(persistent forms): alcoholism, crime, drug addiction, suicide.
  2. "Pre-deviant syndrome"- a set of symptoms that lead a person to persistent forms of deviation (family conflicts, affective type of behavior, aggressive type of behavior, early asocial forms of behavior, low level of intelligence, negative attitude to study).
Pathocharacteristic type of deviant behavior

Classification Korolenko and Don

In 1990, Ts. P. Korolenko and T. A. Donskikh identified the following types and types of deviant behavior:

  1. Unusual behavior.It includes actions that do not fit into the framework of social behavioral stereotypes, but play a positive role in the development of society.
  2. Destructive behavior.It is divided into external destructive (implies a violation of social norms); addictive (addictive type of deviant behavior involves the use of specific activity or any substance in order to obtain the desired emotions and escape from reality); antisocial (accompanied by violation of the laws and rights of other people); intradestructive (aimed at the disintegration of the personality itself).

Ivanov's classification

In 1995, V.N. Ivanov, from the point of view of danger to society and the man himself, singled out such types of deviant behavior:

  1. Pre-crime- minor misconduct, violation of the rules and norms of morality, the use of alcohol and drugs and other forms of behavior that do not pose a serious threat to society.
  2. Criminogenic- criminal, criminal acts.

Kleiberg typology

Yu. A. Kleiberg in 2001 identified three main types of deviant behavior:

  1. Negative(for example, the use of drugs).
  2. Positive(for example, social creativity).
  3. Socially neutral(for example, begging).

Generalization E. V. Zmanovskaya

In 2009, E.V.Zmanovskaya, generalizing various typologies of behavioral deviations, identified the type of the violated norm and the negative consequences of deviating behavior as the main classification criterion. In her personal classification, she chose three deviations:

  1. Antisocial (delinquent).Delinquent type of deviant behavior involves actions that threaten social order and the welfare of others.
  2. Asocial (immoral).Involves evasion of moral norms, which threatens the well-being of interpersonal relations.
  3. Autodestructive (self-destructive).This type includes suicidal, autistic, fanatical, victimized and risky behavior, food and chemical addiction, and so on.
Delinquent type of deviant behavior

Signs of rejection

The main signs of any behavioral abnormalities are: regular violation of the norms of society and a negative assessment on the part of society, which is usually accompanied by stigmatization (branding, hanging social labels).

Deviation from social standards is an action that does not comply with socially recognized rules, laws, and attitudes.It should be borne in mind that social norms change over time. An illustrative example is the ever-changing attitude of society towards non-traditional sexual orientations.

Social censure and severe stigma always accompany those who show behavioral abnormalities. Here, well-known labels are in service with critics: “alcoholic”, “prostitute”, “gangster”, “convict” and others.

Nevertheless, for rapid diagnosis and correct correction of behavioral abnormalities, two characteristics are not enough. To recognize some types and forms of deviant behavior, you need to recall a number of minor signs:

  1. Destructiveness.It is characterized by the ability to cause significant damage to others or to oneself. Deviant behavior in all cases is destructive. Depending on the form, it acts destructively or autodestructively.
  2. Repeatedly repeated actions.A person may, unwillingly, commit one offense under the influence of any external factors. But if this offense repeats, then there is a deviation.Thus, regular child theft of money from the pocket of the parents is a deviant behavior, while a suicide attempt is not. One of the important signs of deviation is its gradual formation, when minor destructive actions turn into more destructive ones.
  3. Medical standards.Deviations are always considered in terms of clinical norms. When mental disorders are talking about the pathological behavioral reactions of man, and not deviant. Nevertheless, often deviant behavior develops into pathology. So, for example, domestic drunkenness can turn into alcoholism.
  4. Disadaptation in society.Behavior of a person who deviates from the norm always causes or aggravates the state of social maladjustment. And vice versa - the more approval a person receives from society, the better he feels in society.
  5. Pronounced sex and age diversity.Different types and types of deviant behavior are manifested in their own way in people of different gender and age.
Addictive type of deviant behavior

Negative and positive deviations

Social deviation is both negative and positive.In the second case, it helps personal development and social progress. Examples of positive deviation are giftedness, social activity aimed at improving society, and much more. Negative deviation makes a negative contribution to the existence and development of society (vagrancy, suicide, deviant behavior of adolescents, etc.).

In general, deviant behavior can find manifestation in a wide range of social phenomena, therefore the criteria for its negativity or positivity, as a rule, are of a subjective nature. The same type of deviation can receive both positive and negative evaluations from people with different value systems.

Causes of deviations

There are many concepts of deviance, ranging from biogenetic and cultural-historical. One of the main causes of social deviation is the incompatibility of social norms with the requirements put forward by life. The second common reason is the incompatibility of life itself with the ideas and interests of a particular person. In addition, deviant behavior can be caused by factors suchlike family problems, parenting mistakes, heredity, deformation of character, mental illness, the negative impact of the media and much more.

Deviance and delinquency

Depending on what science considers the concept of deviance, it can acquire different colors. Pathological variants of deviant behavior include crimes, suicides, all kinds of anesthesia and sexual deviation, mental disorders and so on. Sometimes an antisocial action is interpreted as a violation of social norms, a deviation from the standards and the pursuit of their goals by illegal means. Often in such a concept as “deviant behavior”, lay the manifestations of various violations of the social regulation of behavior and defectiveness of self-regulation. That is why deviant behavior is often equated with delinquent behavior.

Deviant behavior is called actions or a system of actions that are completely at odds with the moral and legal norms of society. In the meantime, delinquent behavior is a psychological propensity for wrongdoing. Therefore, it is also called criminal.

No matter how strongly the types of deviant behavior and their characteristics differ, they are always interrelated. Many crimes are the result of less significant immoral acts. Thus, the involvement of an individual in a particular type of deviation increases the likelihood of delinquent actions on his part. Delinquent behavior differs from deviant behavior in that it is not so closely related to the violation of mental norms. For society, delinquents, of course, are much more dangerous than deviants.

The main types of deviant behavior

Preventive and therapeutic measures

Since behavioral deviation is one of the most persistent phenomena, its prevention is always relevant. It represents a whole complex of all kinds of events.

There are such types of prevention of deviance:

  1. Primary prevention.It involves the elimination of negative factors and increasing the resistance of the individual to their influence. Primary prevention is aimed mainly at preventing various types of deviant behavior in children and adolescents.
  2. Secondary prophylaxis.It involves the identification and correction of negative conditions and factors that can cause deviant behavior.Such prevention is mainly used in working with groups of adolescents and children who live in difficult conditions.
  3. Late prevention.It is aimed at solving specific problems, preventing relapses and leveling the harmful effects of the already formed deviation. It assumes an active impact on a narrow circle of persons with persistent behavioral deviations.

In general, the plan of preventive measures consists of the following components:

  1. Work in clinics and hospitals.
  2. Prevention in schools and universities.
  3. Work with dysfunctional families.
  4. Prevention through all kinds of media.
  5. Organization of active youth groups.
  6. Work with street children.
  7. Training qualified personnel for high-quality prevention.

Psycho-prophylactic measures are effective in the initial stages of the formation of deviation. They are mainly aimed at combating various types of deviant behavior of adolescents and young people, since it is these periods of personal development that imply active socialization.

Types, types of deviant behavior

Therapy and correction of advanced deviation is carried out by psychiatrists and psychotherapists on an outpatient or inpatient basis.For children and adolescents with a pronounced deviation, there are open and closed institutions. Deviant behavior in the initial stages is eradicated through prevention in open institutions. They provide children and adolescents with all the necessary types of medical, psychological and educational assistance. Children and adolescents with neglected deviation, which require a more thorough approach, end up in closed institutions. Adult deviant behavior is punishable by law.


Acquainted with the concept and types of deviant behavior, we can conclude that this phenomenon is well known not only to psychiatrists, but to lawyers, psychologists, educators, criminologists and doctors. It includes a variety of forms of action not approved by society, ranging from smoking and ending with vagrancy. In most cases, this behavior is not a disease, but a way of external manifestation of the individual characteristics of the individual. Types of deviant behavior are not only negative, but also positive changes in behavior that lead to development. Proof of this is the fact that the way of life of most great scientists was unacceptable to the masses.

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