Doing it now or later? Correlates, predictors and prevention of academic, decisional and general procrastination among students in Austria  [presentation, pdf, 3035 kB]

Essau C. A., Ederer Fick E., O’Callaghan J., Aschemann B.
First author's affiliation: School of Human and Life Sciences, Roehampton University, Whitelands College, London, United Kingdom

Procrastination has been defined as the tendency to postpone what is necessary to reach some goal. Because of its negative consequences (e.g., poor grades, course withdrawal, engagement in self-handicapping behaviour, low self-confidence and self-esteem), higher education policy is called upon to deal with the problem of procrastination, especially in light of the increasing average duration of studies. This study, in which 480 Austrian students participated, is unique because of its inclusion of a wide range of psychological constructs found to be related to procrastination. The following set of questionnaires was used: Procrastination Assessment Scale-Students (Solomon & Rothblum, 1984), Decisional Procrastination Scale (Mann, 1982), General Procrastination Scale (Lay, 1986), Self-Regulation Questionnaire (Carey et al., 2004), Frost Multidimensional Perfectionism Scale (Frost et al., 1990), Ways of Coping Checklist (Lazarus & Folkman, 1984) and Depression, Anxiety, and Stress Scale (Lovibond & Lovibond, 1995). Academic, decisional and general procrastination was found to be, to a significant degree, negatively correlated with self-regulatory behaviour, organization and problem-focused coping, whereas all three types of procrastination were, to a significant degree, associated positively with emotion-focused coping, depression and anxiety. Furthermore, self-regulation and organization were found to be the outstanding predictors of all three types of procrastination. Consequently, our prevention programme against procrastination is focused on project management tools (time and content planning and monitoring) on the one hand, and the strengthening of intellectual and motivational personal resources on the other hand. A progress plan for a thesis project will be introduced. Dividing the project into subtasks (modules), as it is common practice in project management, supports self-regulation, organization and problem-focused coping, thus facilitating the prevention of procrastination.