The Evaluation of the Major
Characteristics and Aspects of the
Procrastination in the Framework
of Psychological Counseling and
Murat BALKIS, Erdinç DURU
It is important to understand causes and consequences of procrastination that is ap-
peared common among general and academic population. Procrastination affects pe-
ople in various domains of life such as academic, professional, social relationships,
and finance management. A person with high procrastination may lose his/her work,
drop out from school, or may endanger his/her marital life. Similarly, High procrasti-
nators might increasingly experience psychological distress related to lack of sense
of personal control, self- worth and lack of sense of self-perceived personal ability as
deadlines approach. The purpose of this study presents theoretical and conceptual
frames of procrastination that is an important variable of individual difference and
common in general and academic population.
Procrastination, Conceptual Framework, Psychological Counseling.
© 2007 E¤itim Dan›ﬂmanl›¤› ve Araﬂt›rmalar› ‹letiﬂim Hizmetleri Tic. Ltd. ﬁti.
*Correspondence: Murat BALKIS, Ph.D., Pamukkale University, Faculty of Education, Department
of Educational Sciences, ‹ncilip›nar 20020 Denizli_ Turkey. E-Mail: email@example.com
** Assit. Prof. Dr., Pamukkale University, Faculty of Education, Department of Educational Scien-
Educational Sciences: Theory & Practice
7(1) • January 2007 • 376-385
Procrastination is a phenomenon in which a person neglects to at-
tend to a necessary responsibility, such as a task or decision, in a ti-
mely fashion, often despite their good intentions or inevitable ne-
gative and unpleasant consequences. It is not unusual for people to
procrastinate occasionally, but for some, procrastination is a chronic
problem that causes considerable psychological discomfort and dis-
tress. Procrastination is especially common in the general and aca-
demic populations. Ellis and Knaus (1977) point out that 95% of
American college students procrastinate. In Solomon and Roth-
blum’s (1984) survey, 46% of students reported that they procrasti-
nate on academic tasks at least half of the time. Harriott and Ferra-
ri (1996) refer to procrastination as one of the least understood mi-
nor human miseries, affecting 15-25% of the population during the-
Procrastination is pervasive, affecting many facets of life. Milgram,
Batori, and Mowrer (1993) identify five categories of procrastinati-
on; (i) life routine procrastination, (ii) decisional procrastination,
(iii) neurotic procrastination, (iv) compulsive procrastination, and
(v) academic procrastination.
Each theory related procrastination tends to address one side of
procrastination problem and not the others. For example, behavio-
ral perspective used to in the reinforcement theory has been the
prevailing explanation of procrastination under the behavioral para-
digm. According to the tenets of behaviorism, procrastination can
be explained in terms of incentives students have for putting off
work and the absence of incentives for effort that contributes to go-
al attainment (Briody, 1980).
Within the psychology literature, earliest theories of procrastinati-
on came from the psychodynamic tradition, a school of psychology
that emphasizes childhood experiences as an influential factor in
adult personality, unconscious mental process as influences on
everyday behavior, and internal conflict as an underlying root of
most behavior (Matlin, 1995). As such, psychodynamic literature
primarily characterizes procrastination as a problematic behavioral
manifestation of underlying internal psychic drama, often involving
feelings about and towards one’s family.
Based on their extensive clinical experience working with procras-
tinators, Ellis and Knaus (1977) emphasized that the irrational na-
BALKIS, DURU / The Evaluation of the Major Characteristics and Aspects of the Procrastination... • 377
ture of procrastination and the ability of the procrastinators to acti-
vely identify, dispute and restructure their irrational beliefs, self
defeating cognitions to bring about desired behavioral and emotio-
nal chances. Although they have defined procrastination in techni-
cal sense as “putting off something until a future time-postponing
or deferring action on something you have decided to do”( p.7).
Ellis and Knaus (1977) characterized procrastination as resulting
from three basic and, often overlapping causes: self- downing (ne-
gative and disparaging self talk), low frustration tolerance, and hos-
tility. These three causes are viewed as manifestations of a cogniti-
ve style that involves unrealistic views about the self, others and
Literature on procrastination has revealed several possible causes.
The first cause is poor time management. If someone procrastina-
tes, it suggests that she/he is unable to manage time wisely. It also
implies an uncertainty of priorities, goals and objectives. It might
cause a person to feel overwhelmed when facing a task. Due to this
feeling, one postpones doing academic assignments until a later da-
te and instead chooses to focus on unproductive activities. The ina-
bility to concentrate on work is the second reason for procrastina-
ting. This difficulty may be due to a distraction in the environment,
such as noise, a cluttered study desk or attempting to do an assign-
ment on a bed. The third factor is fear and anxiety as related to fa-
ilure. A person in this category would spend more time worrying
about the work she/he has to do rather than completing it. Negati-
ve beliefs about one’s capabilities are the fourth reason to procras-
tinate. Personal problems may also hamper one’s progress in comp-
leting a task. In addition, unrealistic expectations and perfectio-
nism may be two other barriers for procrastinators.
Many contributing factors to procrastination have been identified
in the research literature, including feelings of being overwhelmed,
lack of motivation, perfectionism, poor time management, and or-
ganizational skills (Burka, & Yuen, 1990; Milgram, Marshevsky, &
Sadeh, 1995; Rothblum, Solomon, & Murakami, 1986; Solomon, &
Rothblum, 1984). Haycock et al. (1998) found that both low self-ef-
ficacy and high anxiety were the significant predictors of increased
procrastination for everyday, nonacademic activities. In addition,
several cognitive variables have been found to correlate with proc-
378 • EDUCATIONAL SCIENCES: THEORY & PRACTICE
rastination, including irrational beliefs, external attribution styles,
and beliefs regarding time (Haycock, 1993).
Research has revealed that procrastination is related to low grades,
low self-esteem, self-discipline and self-efficacy as well as ineffec-
tive learning skills, boredom, task assertiveness, anxiety, depressi-
on, fear of failure, irrational thinking, cheating, time management
and instant gratification (Chissom & Iran-Nejad, 1992; Ferrari,
Johnson, & McCown, 1995; Ferrari & Beck, 1998; Haycock,
McCarthy, & Skay, 1998; Lay, 1986; Senecal, Koestner, & Valle-
rand, 1995; Solomon, & Rothblum, 1984). In regards to the relati-
onship between procrastination and personality, the literature sug-
gests that procrastination is consistently associated with both ne-
uroticism and conscientiousness of the Five-Factor Model of Per-
sonality. Procrastination is positively correlated with Neuroticism
and has a strong opposite relationship with Conscientiousness
(Johnson, & Bloom, 1995, Lay et al., 1998, Milgram, & Tenne,
2000; Schouwenburg, & Lay, 1995). Other research suggests that
procrastination is positively related to perfectionism (Ferrari, 1992;
Martin et al., 1996).
General counseling and psychotherapy techniques have yielded so-
me improvement with procrastination; however, specific behavioral
and cognitive-behavioral techniques (such as systematic desensiti-
zation, relaxation training, rational emotive therapy, and stres ino-
culation training) appear to be more effective in reducing procras-
tination. Structured goal setting, breaking assignments down, and
changing cognitive styles such as perfectionism and fears of failure
or success are common core strategies used to help students redu-
ce their academic procrastination.
Given that there is such a high occurrence of procrastination in both
the academic and general populations, it is important to understand
its undesirable consequences. People suffer from procrastination in
varying degrees and its negative consequences are felt in many are-
as of their lives, such as academics, work, career, marriage, social re-
lations and financial management.
BALKIS, DURU / The Evaluation of the Major Characteristics and Aspects of the Procrastination... • 379
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