Overcorrection is a form of behavior therapy used to reduce or eliminate problem behaviors, such as aggression or self-injurious behavior. It is based on the principles of operant conditioning, which suggest that behaviors can be changed by making and reinforcing desirable actions and discouraging unwanted ones. The goal of overcorrection is to teach an appropriate behavior by providing an immediate consequence for the inappropriate behavior.

Overcorrection involves the individual engaging in a predetermined and agreed-upon activity for a set period of time following the occurrence of the inappropriate behavior. The activity chosen should be long enough to be meaningful, as well as something the individual can complete without assistance. Common activities used in overcorrection include verbal responses (e.g., repeating a phrase), physical activities (e.g., running in place or jumping jacks), and academic tasks (e.g., counting or writing a sentence). Once the activity is completed, the individual is rewarded with praise, a token, or other form of reinforcement.

Overcorrection has been used with a variety of populations, including individuals with autism, intellectual disabilities, developmental disabilities, and behavior disorders. Studies have indicated that overcorrection is an effective intervention for reducing problem behaviors (Dodd, Prater, & Bambara, 2016; Piazza et al., 2017), as well as increasing appropriate academic behaviors (Tawfik & Baker, 2012). Overcorrection has also been used to teach language skills (Irvin et al., 2011) and self-care skills (McClannahan, Krantz, & Poulson, 1995).

Although the research is promising, there are some drawbacks to using overcorrection as an intervention. It can be difficult to implement correctly and may require a significant amount of time and effort to be successful. In addition, it may be difficult to find activities that are meaningful yet do not require assistance. Finally, overcorrection may be difficult for some individuals to tolerate, as the activities required may be physically or mentally challenging.

In conclusion, overcorrection is an effective intervention for reducing problem behaviors and teaching language and self-care skills. While there are some drawbacks to using this intervention, it can be a valuable tool for helping individuals with disabilities and behavior disorders.


Dodd, D. H., Prater, M. A., & Bambara, L. M. (2016). An evaluation of overcorrection with a student with autism and aggressive behavior. Education and Treatment of Children, 39(4), 575–594.

Irvin, L. K., Matson, J. L., Neal, D. W., & Mayville, E. A. (2011). An evaluation of overcorrection to teach functional communication skills to children with autism. Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders, 5(2), 978–986.

McClannahan, L. E., Krantz, P. J., & Poulson, C. L. (1995). A replication and extension of overcorrection in the treatment of problem behaviors. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 28(4), 517–528.

Piazza, C. C., Hanley, G. P., Iwata, B. A., & McCord, B. E. (2017). Overcorrection with brief physical restraint for aggression maintained by automatic reinforcement. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 50(2), 375–387.

Tawfik, L. S., & Baker, B. L. (2012). Overcorrection procedure to increase appropriate academic behaviors of an elementary student with an autism spectrum disorder. Journal of Positive Behavior Interventions, 14(4), 260–270.

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