Overcorrection in Psychology: When Good Intentions Go Too Far

Deborah C. Escalante

Overcorrection in Psychology: When Good Intentions Go Too Far
Overcorrection in Psychology: When Good Intentions Go Too Far

In psychology, the concept of overcorrection refers to an attempt to correct a behavior that has negative consequences by going to the extreme opposite of the behavior. While overcorrection can have positive outcomes when used effectively, it can also lead to unintended negative consequences when taken too far.

What is Overcorrection?

Overcorrection is a type of behavior modification that involves making a person perform an action multiple times to correct undesired behavior. For example, if a child misbehaves, a parent may make them do a task several times, such as cleaning a room or doing extra chores, in order to discourage the bad behavior.

Overcorrection can be an effective way to change a misbehaving child’s actions, but it can also be taken too far and lead to unintended negative outcomes, such as resentment or mistrust.

The Dangers of Overcorrection

When overcorrection is taken too far, it can lead to harmful outcomes. For example, if a parent is trying to teach a child to stop lying, but they are too strict and constantly monitor the child to ensure they are always telling the truth, the child may feel like they are not trusted and could develop resentment towards the parent.

In a therapeutic setting, overcorrection can also be harmful. For example, a therapist may try to correct a patient’s negative behavior by providing positive feedback, but if the positive feedback becomes too extreme, it may come off as insincere or manipulative and undermine the patient’s trust in the therapist.

BACA JUGA:   Central State University Psychology

When is Overcorrection Useful?

Despite the potential dangers of overcorrection, it can be a useful tool when used correctly. One example is when working with patients suffering from phobias. A therapist may use the technique of flooding, which involves exposing the patient to the feared object or situation for an extended period of time. This technique can be considered a form of overcorrection because it aims to address the behavior at the extreme opposite end of the spectrum.

Another example of useful overcorrection is in sports training. Coaches may use the technique of overcorrection to train athletes to avoid certain movements that may cause injury. By making the athlete perform a series of corrective actions, the coach can help them build muscle memory and avoid the undesired movements.


Overcorrection can have both positive and negative consequences, and it’s important for individuals and therapists alike to use the technique with caution. When applied correctly, the technique can yield positive outcomes in behavior modification and sports training. However, when taken too far, overcorrection can lead to resentment or mistrust and undermine the effectiveness of the technique.

As with any psychology technique, overcorrection should only be used with careful consideration and judgement to ensure that it is being applied in the most effective way possible. By balancing the risks and benefits of the technique, individuals and therapists can use overcorrection in a way that maximizes its potential for positive outcomes.

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