The Powerful Way “Normalization” Is Shaping Our World (2023)

detailed |Psychology

The Powerful Way “Normalization” Is Shaping Our World (1)

By Jessica BrownMarch 20, 2017

Our perception of what is "normal" can change over time, and this can be a force for good and evil.

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"My campaign will not allow Donald Trump to try to normalize," he said.sworeHillary Clinton, Trump's Democratic opponent in the US presidential campaign, during her campaign. There were special concernsabout your comments about women, for example because they fear it would lead to greater acceptance of misogyny.

But after his election victory, it was the media who were accused of making this behavior appear normal. A writer for the New York Times said on the day of the election results: "all around him were unmistakable signs of progressive normalization' and the editor of the New Yorker commented that he felt he was 'being hallucinated' because everyone was 'I normalize“.

Adam Bear and Joshua Knobe of Yale University, thestudied normalization, recently wrotein New York timesthat people tend to confuse what is "desirable" and what is average in a "single undifferentiated judgment of normality". be regarded as typical, but also as normal. Our perception of the normal does not separate the normal from the ideal. The more familiar Trump becomes, the more acceptable he becomes to those who initially disapproved of his actions.

Research over the past few years has shown that many other behaviors and attitudes can seemingly be easily normalized, and not just in politics. In all areas of our lives, whether at work or at home, normalization can have a complex but hidden impact on our beliefs and choices.

The Powerful Way “Normalization” Is Shaping Our World (2)

President Trump has been a controversial figure, and his critics fear some of his more controversial behaviors may soon become the norm (Credit: Getty Images)

One study suggested that romantic comedy films starring men who behave like stalkers might make women more tolerant of obsessive behavior in real life.

We're quite protective of the concept of normalcy. After a big life event, all we want is to get back to normal. It's our standard, our comfort zone. But our understanding of normal is a tangle of objective and subjective, moral and social judgments that can change for better or worse. Oneto studysuggested that romantic comedy films starring men who act like stalkers might make women more likely to tolerate obsessive behavior in real life.

University of Michigan gender and sexuality expert Julia Lippman asked women about this behavior after watching a series of films. Those who watched films depicting obsessive romantic behavior, including There's Something About Mary, were more likely to accept "persecution-supporting beliefs" than other participants who watched films featuring male aggression or nature documentaries.

In other areas of life, having a firm idea of ​​what is normal can be problematic. The Beauty Demands Network, a group of cultural theorists, historians and sociologists affiliated with the University of Birmingham, wrote an article about itbeauty standardsLast year he called for widespread recognition that normal is a "value judgment and not a neutral or descriptive term" because a regimented notion of what is aesthetically normal is detrimental to women's and girls' self-esteem.

Changes in our collective perception of normality can occur gradually, sometimes due to or aided by language changes. Recently, for example, there have been allegations that the media has replaced the term "extreme right" with "Alternatively right– and that this contributes to the normalization of extreme political views.

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The Powerful Way “Normalization” Is Shaping Our World (3)

Greater presence and awareness can change people's attitudes towards disability (Image credit: Getty Images)

A well-known political theory, elaborated by political scientist Joseph Overton in the mid-1990s, is the Overton Window, which supports the broader idea of ​​normalization within politics. The window is for policies that summarize the current political climate and deemed acceptable by voters. It's usually in the middle of the political spectrum, but can slide left or right as certain politicians, parties, policies, and events affect voters. In 1987, for example, 22% disagreedthe government must spendmore money in social benefits, according to the British Survey of Social Attitudes. In 2009, a year after the financial crisis, it was still 43%.

In addition to politics, a lot has changed with the population's perception of normality in the last century alone, from the words we use in everyday life to the way we dress to gender roles in work and family life. . The general attitude has also changed. An example of this is the general shift towards acceptance and understanding of mental illness. According to the results ofBritish Social Attitudes Survey. In 2015, this proportion rose to 17%. In 2000, 41% said they were much less likely to be promoted, while in 2015 it dropped to 35%.

Cultural normalization can happen organically over time, in a kind of boiling frog. This is the case with adolescents and recreational drug use, according to the authors of theillegal free time. In the book, the researchers describe a five-year longitudinal study of youth and drug use and argue that drugs, particularly cannabis, but also LSD, amphetamines and ecstasy, are now more accepted as a recreational activity than as an act of rebellion. . He says: "The new generation of drug users can no longer be seen as crazy or bad or from subcultural worlds, they are widespread and they are everywhere."

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Another example is when an apparentlya small error in judgment is normalized and then scaled up, which led to a great catastrophe. The Space Shuttle Challenger disaster killed seven astronauts in 1986 when it broke apart just 73 seconds after launch. Experts warned that the freezing temperatures of that particularly cold January in Florida would cause problems with the Challenger's O-rings, and a special commission investigating the disaster said the warnings had been ignored.

Theoretical physicist Richard Feynman, who was the commissioner behind the explosion investigation,said the thought was during the process of working on the busthat after the shuttle was tested even with erosion of the pre-existing seal and nothing happened, "it is suspected ... that the risk for future flights is no longer so high. We could lower our standards a bit because we got away with it last time.”

The Powerful Way “Normalization” Is Shaping Our World (4)

"Deviation normalization" could explain the errors that led to the explosion of NASA's space shuttle Challenger (Credit: Getty Images)

This is referred to as social normalization of deviation, where employees become so accustomed to deviation that they do not consider it a deviation even though it is beyond safety standards. This deviation has become part of the culture, according to Diane Vaughan, sociologist and author of The Challenger Launch Decision.

Normalization is sometimes the goal of conscious attempts to manipulate the norm to change attitudes. One of the best-known examples of this concerns society's perception of people with intellectual disabilities.

The principle of normalization was in this contextDeveloped in Scandinaviaafter it was incorporated into Danish law in 1959 that people with learning disabilities should have living conditions as similar as possible to those of other people in society.

O Dr. Bengt Nirje foi ofirst lawyerIn addition, in the early 1960s he campaigned for the normalization of people with learning disabilities, who were treated very differently at the time. Their efforts led to major changes in the way social care was structured around the world, and the closure of long-term hospitals and institutional facilities, which in turn led to itChanging public perception of people with disabilities.

What purpose should names and designations serve if not to enhance, honor and normalize people's images and expectations? – William Bronson

This idea was exported to the US, but it took decades for attitudes to really change. In 1974, William Bronston spoke at theSecond Down Syndrome Congress, held in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Bronston played aactive role in the movementfor the rights of persons with disabilities in the United States. He told the audience that people with intellectual disabilities are still viewed as "subhumans, like animals, objects or plants." He suggested that normalization could be achieved by replacing stigmatizing words with positive language, such as "we, we, our, me, normal, quite, fine, smarter, fit" instead of "they, they... retarded". "different, minority".

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The Powerful Way “Normalization” Is Shaping Our World (5)

Activists hope to "normalize" recycling habits (Credit: Getty Images)

Another sector where the normalization of attitudes is seen as an effective route to change is human ecology. In a 2011 article entitled “Make the green normalKingston Business School researchers advised positioning pro-environmental behaviors as mainstream rather than niche and unsustainable behaviors as uncommon. So perhaps it's no coincidence that more people are recycling than just a few years ago. 10, 40% of the of UK household waste was recycled, composted or reused, compared with less than 1% in 1983/84Office for National Statistics.

Being labeled “normal” can affect our behavior without us realizing it. We welcome normality, protect it and fall into its traps. We may be busy normalizing one thing while another is slipping in and out of the window of normality right under our noses. Normality permeates our world, but mere prevalence doesn't mean we shouldn't be careful.


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(Video) 31.10.2018 Bank of Finland seminar on Monetary policy normalization in the world of uncertainties



1. Governor Olli Rehn: Monetary policy normalization in the world of uncertainties
(Suomen Pankki)
2. Academic Ramblings: Societal repercussions for the normalization of hate in games
3. Formal Languages and Automata for Reward Function Specification and Efficient Reinforcement Learning
(Simons Institute)
4. Gulf Israeli Relations between Government Normalization and Public Opinion
(Gulf International Forum)
5. Group Normalization (Paper Explained)
(Yannic Kilcher)
6. Normalization of Prevention Principles and Practices: A Research Agenda


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