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New Perspectives on Procrastination

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Front. Psychol. | doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2018.00327

Examining Procrastination across Multiple Goal Stages: A Longitudinal Study of Temporal Motivation Theory

  • 1University of Calgary, Canada
  • 2UiT The Arctic University of Norway, Norway
  • 3Central Michigan University, United States
  • 4University of Minnesota, United States

Procrastination is among the most common of motivational failures, putting off despite expecting to be worse off. We examine this dynamic phenomenon in a detailed and realistic longitudinal design (Study 1) as well as in a large correlational data set (N = 7400; Study 2). The results are largely consistent with temporal motivation theory. People's pacing style reflects a hyperbolic curve, with the steepness of the curve predicted by self-reported procrastination. Procrastination is related to intention-action gaps, but not intentions. Procrastinators are susceptible to proximity of temptation and to the temporal separation between their intention and the planned act; the more distal, the greater the gap. Critical self-regulatory skills in explaining procrastination are attention control, energy regulation and automaticity, accounting for 74% of the variance. Future research using this design is recommended, as it provides an almost ideal blend of realism and detailed longitudinal assessment.

Keywords: procrastination, Temporal trajectories, Pacing style, Longitudinal study design, Motivation, Self-regulation, conscientiousness, Personality

Received: 20 Jan 2018; Accepted: 26 Feb 2018.

Edited by:

Martin S. Hagger, Curtin University, Australia

Reviewed by:

Catherine Roster, University of New Mexico, United States
Andrew J. Howell, MacEwan University, Canada  

Copyright: © 2018 Steel, Svartdal, Thundiyil and Brothen. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Prof. Piers Steel, University of Calgary, Calgary, Canada,