Psychological compensation: a theoretical framework

Psychol Bull. 1992 Sep;112(2):259-83. doi: 10.1037/0033-2909.112.2.259.


The 2 main objectives of this article are to review a variety of literatures in which the concept of compensation is used and to integrate the results of this review into a general framework of compensation. The review focuses on 4 domains of psychological inquiry: compensation for sensory handicaps, cognitive deficits, interpersonal losses, and brain injury. In the proposed framework, underlying dimensions and 4 basic steps in the progression of compensatory behavior are distinguished. The latter include origins, mechanisms, forms, and consequences. Finally, we describe ways in which researchers in particular domains can benefit from the global, process-oriented framework we propose. For most of the areas of compensation research reviewed, investigators can profit from a consideration of a broader selection of dimensions, additional steps in the process, alternative outcomes, and both objective and subjective assessment procedures.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aging / psychology
  • Cognition Disorders / psychology*
  • Disabled Persons / psychology*
  • Female
  • Hearing Disorders / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Learning Disabilities / psychology
  • Male
  • Poisoning / psychology
  • Research Design / trends
  • Vision, Low / psychology*