Ancient Egyptians had two verbs which had the translation of procrastination. The two meanings denoted are: valuable habit of avoiding unnecessary work, or negative habits of laziness in finishing jobs or tasks (Ferrari et al 1995), which in simpler terms could be identified as passive and active procrastination. In this essay I will explore some identified factors which affect procrastinating behaviours such as self-efficacy, motivation and self-esteem.
One factor that affects procrastinating behaviour is perception. Procrastination is most likely to occur based on the perceived difficulty of a task. When a task is perceived to be more difficult e.g. a writing tasks it's more likely to be procrastinated upon. Klassen et al 2010 stated that writing tasks are perceived as having less interest as well as being more challenging than other academic tasks such as researching or reading and are therefore more likely to be procrastinated upon. However, it may not be due to the difficulty of the task but due to self-efficacy. Self-efficacy is a person’s belief in his or her ability to accomplish any given tasks on time (Bandura, 1997) therefore students who have low-self efficacy maybe more likely to procrastinate tasks which are perceived to be difficult and as they do not have strong belief in their ability to accomplish the task and are therefore more likely to avoid it. On the other hand, students which have high levels of self-efficacy maybe overconfident and undermine the difficulty of a task also postponing it to a later date showing how varying levels of self-efficacy influences indulgence of procrastination behaviours.
However self-efficacy is not a lone factor of procrastination despite being a significant predictor, self-regulation accounted for the predictiveness of self-efficacy (Strunk and Steel 2011). Some argue that procrastination is a mere result of lack of self-regulation therefore the definition of procrastination can be described as failure to self-regulate. Tice & Baumeister, 1997 state that procrastinators have much more difficult when it comes to self-regulation which can explain why they are more likely to put off tasks and not being able to meet deadlines on time. Contrastingly Cerino 2014 notes that self-efficacy has a contribution to procrastinating behaviours suggesting that students need to be aware of their own ability as this can influence success in an academic setting. However, as Cerino only studied procrastination in relation to self-efficacy in an academic environment, self-efficacy may not be as an influential factor on procrastination outside such a setting.
Moreover self-esteem as well as self-efficacy and self-regulation plays as a key factor that influences procrastination behaviour, individuals who see themselves as worthy and valuable are far less likely to indulge in procrastinating behaviours (Adu 2014) showing that our own perception of ourselves and one's ability can strongly influence people's choices when approaching and indulging in procrastination behaviours. A strength of Abu’s study is that it builds on the previous mentioned studies as it acknowledges the influences of demographic factors as well as psychological meaning it provides a more whole and holistic view on influences of procrastination behaviours beyond psychological factors. In some instances, procrastination may aid self-esteem as a poor result could potentially be due to lack of effort rather than lack of ability.
Another factor which influences procrastination behaviour according to research is motivation. Motivation is regarded as a force which guides and initiates goal-oriented behaviour which leads it to be a factor that influences procrastinating behaviours. With lack of motivation students may be more inclined to procrastinate as completion of academic work may not be a motivating goal for students. Cerino 2014 acknowledges that motivation has a greater influence on procrastinating behaviours than self-efficacy and suggests that self-efficacy is a mediating factor for motivation. There are two types of motivation extrinsic and intrinsic and much of the research based on procrastination acknowledges that people who are less intrinsically motivated a much more likely to procrastinate as they do not complete tasks based on their own willingness to complete the task which they are faced with. Brownlow and Reasinger 2000 noted that men who procrastinate schoolwork were far less intrinsically motivated and found little to no satisfaction in schoolwork, this highlights the idea that the attitude which people have to complete tasks has a strong influence on procrastinating behaviours. In many instances’ grades are not a substantial or meaningful motivator for many students which can explain the high levels of educational procrastination as there is little intrinsic motivation to start the academic work in the first place. Therefore, it could be suggested that inadequate performance can be a result as well as a cause of low motivation and this means low motivation is more likely to encourage students to procrastinate.
Moreover, certain personality traits may also influence procrastinating behaviour. People who are described as neurotic are more likely to procrastinate (Kim, Fernandez and terrier 2017). Mentally unstable students are associated strongly with procrastination however it is more likely to be passive than active as active procrastination can lead to more stress for people with this personality type. This therefore shows that certain personality traits such as neuroticism can strongly influence procrastinating behaviour.
However demographic factors such as gender and age can have just as much of an effect on procrastination behaviours, academic aged girls are less likely to participate in procrastination behaviour due to a bedroom culture which boys are not as strongly affected by which in turn could highlight why men who are young and single with lower levels of self-discipline are most likely to associate with procrastination behaviours (Steel and Ferrari 2013).
In conclusion there are many psychological factors which may influence procrastinating behaviours researched to a certain degree however other factors such as demographic factors may be more influential than psychological factors alone.
- Adu, R.A (2014) Predictors of Indulgence in Procrastinating Behaviour: Demographic Variables and Self-esteem. The International Journal of Indian Psychology, Volume 2, 41-53
- Bandura, A. (1977) Self-efficacy: Toward a unifying theory of behavioural change. Psychological Review, Volume 84 (2), 191-192.
- Brownlow, S., Reasinger, R.D. (2000) Putting off until tomorrow what is better done today: Academic procrastination as a function of motivation toward college work. Journal of Social Behavior and Personality, volume 15 (5) 15-16
- Cerino, E.S. (2014) Relationships Between Academic Motivation, Self-Efficacy, and Academic Procrastination. Psi Chi Journal of psychological Research, Volume 19(4) 156-163
- Ferrari, J.R., Johnson J.L., McCown, W.G. (1995) Procrastination and Task Avoidance: Theory, Research, and Treatment. (pp. 4) New York, Plenum press.
- Kim, S., Fernandez, S., Terrier, L. (2017) Procrastination, personality traits, and academic performance: When active and passive procrastination tell a different story. Personality and individual differences, volume 108, 154-157.
- Klassen, R., Ang, R., Chong, W., Krawchuk, L., Huan, V., Wong, I., Yeo,L. (2010) Academic Procrastination in Two Settings: Motivation Correlates, Behavioural Patterns, and Negative Impact of Procrastination in Canada and Singapore. Applied Psychology: An International Review, Volume 59 (3), 361-367.
- Steel, P., Ferrari, J. (2013) Sex, education and procrastination: An epidemiological study of procrastinators' characteristics from a global sample. European Journal of Personality, volume 27(1), 51-58.
- Strunk, K.K., Steel, M.R. (2011) Relative Contributions of Self-Efficacy, Self-Regulation, and Self-Handicapping in Predicting Student Procrastination. Psychological Reports, Volume 103(3), 983-989
- Tice, D.M., & Baumeister, R.F. (1997). Longitudinal study of procrastination, performance, stress, and health: The costs and benefits of dawdling. Psychological Science, volume 8(6), 454-458.