Behavioral Psychology uses the term “behavioral excess” to refer to exaggerated and maladaptive responses or response classes such as aggression or property destruction, or grossly inappropriate behaviors, etc.  Behavioral excesses are roughly equivalent to “behavior problems.”

This is a distinction with a difference.  A behavioral excess may be exaggerated and maladaptive, but the concept focuses properly on the discrepancy between the behavior and what the expectations are for a particular moment or context.

Defining something as a “behavior problem” is too often associated with inappropriate expectations.  For instance, expecting someone who prefers high degrees of activity may only be a “problem” when the environment demands long periods of sitting and listening.  In such a case – the expectation may be the problem.

Behavioral excesses are associated with behavioral deficits, which are appropriate behaviors that are needed, but that are currently not yet or only rarely observed.   Behavioral deficits are the result of atypical pathways of learning and development such as seen in attention deficits; lack of communication skills; poor understandings of social patterns and few or underdeveloped social thinking skills, etc.  Skills learned in these areas become replacements for current patterns of behavioral excess.