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Normalization of deviance

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Normalization of deviance, according to American sociologist Diane Vaughan, is the process in which deviance from correct or proper behavior or rule becomes culturally normalized.[1]

Vaughan defines the process where a clearly unsafe practice becomes considered normal if it does not immediately cause a catastrophe: "a long incubation period [before a final disaster] with early warning signs that were either misinterpreted, ignored or missed completely".[2][3]

The original example cited by Vaughan is the events leading to the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster in 1986, but the concept has also been applied to aviation safety,[4][5] clinical practice in medicine,[6] and the public's deviance from health measures aimed to stop the COVID-19 pandemic.[7]

Normalization of deviance can exist in conjunction with corporate omerta where deviation from rules is held up by a code of silence surrounding the deviations or an unspoken agreement on rhetoric within a group of executives. One of the reasons Lion Air Flight 610 and Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 crashed was normalization of deviance based on a criticism of corporate omerta with a "culture of silence".[8]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Wilcutt, Terry; Bell, Hal (November 3, 2014). "The Cost of Silence: Normalization of Deviance and Groupthink" (PDF). Retrieved February 7, 2020.
  2. ^ Banja, John (March 2010). "The normalization of deviance in healthcare delivery". Business Horizons. 53 (2): 139–148. doi:10.1016/j.bushor.2009.10.006. PMC 2821100. PMID 20161685.
  3. ^ Vaughan, Diane (January 4, 2016). The Challenger Launch Decision: Risky Technology, Culture, and Deviance at NASA, Enlarged Edition. University of Chicago Press. pp. 30–1. ISBN 978-0-226-34696-0.
  4. ^ Rosenkrans, Wayne (June 8, 2015). "Normalization of Deviance". Flight Safety Foundation. Retrieved February 7, 2020.
  5. ^ Albright, James (January 2017). "Normalization of Deviance - SOPs are not a suggestion" (PDF). BSU Aviation.
  6. ^ Price, Mary R.; Williams, Teresa C. (March 2018). "When Doing Wrong Feels So Right: Normalization of Deviance". Journal of Patient Safety. 14 (1): 1–2. doi:10.1097/PTS.0000000000000157. ISSN 1549-8425. PMID 25742063. S2CID 3443064.
  7. ^ Petruzzelli, Emily (2020). "Normalization of Deviance in the Time of COVID-19". Chemical Engineering Progress: 3.
  8. ^ Robison, P., Flying Blind, Doubleday, New York, 2021.