Treatment of scavenging behavior (coprophagy and pica) by overcorrection

R. M. Foxx, E. D. Martin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

86 Scopus citations


Scavenging behavior such as pica (ingesting non-nutritive substances) and coprophagy (ingesting fecal matter) represents a serious health hazard in the care of the institutionalized retarded. The Overcorrection rationale was used to develop procedures for eliminating scavenging. The procedures were applied to 4 profoundly retarded adults who rumaged for and ate: paper, trash, garbage, cigarette butts, bits of cloth and feces. The 3 residents who habitually ate feces were chronically infested with intestinal parasites (Trichuris trichiura). The procedures emphasized correction of the scavenging act. as well as practice in alternative appropriate behavior in the situations in which scavenging normally occurred. The Overcorrection procedures reduced the scavenging of all 4 retardates to a near zero level within 1 week where it remained for the duration of the study. The results of biweekly stool specimens showed that all three coprophagic residents were free of parasites during the Overcorrection condition. The Overcorrection procedures were rapid, easily implemented, enduring and effective methods of reducing pica and coprophagic behavior.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)153-162
Number of pages10
JournalBehaviour Research and Therapy
Issue number2-3
StatePublished - Jun 1975

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


Dive into the research topics of 'Treatment of scavenging behavior (coprophagy and pica) by overcorrection'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this