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Procrastination, defined as the subjectively aversive inability to initiate or complete the pursuit of a given goal, is a common phenomenon in academic contexts. This theoretical paper presents a dynamic model that centers on the role of goal focus in influencing procrastination during goal pursuit. Our central hypothesis is that focusing on the means of goal pursuit (i.e., adopting a process focus) reduces procrastination, particularly when fear of failure is high. Focusing on the means should decrease the salience of performance outcomes and thereby reduce fear of failure. This, in turn, should facilitate the initiation and maintenance of goal pursuit. In contrast, when means are perceived as unpleasant (high task aversiveness), focusing more on the outcome of goal pursuit (i.e., adopting an outcome focus) should reduce procrastination by directing attention away from the means while highlighting the importance of goal achievement. Furthermore, the model takes account of dynamic contextual factors, particularly the distance to a given deadline. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2014 APA, all rights reserved)
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Original Articles and Reviews
How to Beat Procrastination
The Role of Goal Focus
Kathrin Krause and Alexandra M. Freund
Department of Psychology, University of Zurich, Switzerland
Abstract. Procrastination, defined as the subjectively aversive inability to initiate or
complete the pursuit of a given goal, is a common phenomenon in academic
contexts. This theoretical paper presents a dynamic model that centers on the role of
goal focus in influencing procrastination during goal pursuit. Our central hypothesis
is that focusing on the means of goal pursuit (i.e., adopting a process focus) reduces
procrastination, particularly when fear of failure is high. Focusing on the means
should decrease the salience of performance outcomes and thereby reduce fear of
failure. This, in turn, should facilitate the initiation and maintenance of goal pursuit.
In contrast, when means are perceived as unpleasant (high task aversiveness),
focusing more on the outcome of goal pursuit (i.e., adopting an outcome focus)
should reduce procrastination by directing attention away from the means while
highlighting the importance of goal achievement. Furthermore, the model takes
account of dynamic contextual factors, particularly the distance to a given deadline.
Keywords: procrastination, goal focus, self-regulation, fear of failure, motivation
Imagine the predicament of a student facing the typical
course requirement of passing the final exam. She knows
she has to start preparing fairly soon but, for some reason,
she just cannot get started. She tires quickly when trying to
read the textbook and gets distracted by other activities
such as long-neglected household chores or updating her
Facebook page. She feels the pressure to start studying,
but simply cannot bring herself to do so. In other words,
she is procrastinating.
Procrastination is defined as the tendency to delay the
initiation or completion of goal pursuit to the point of dis-
comfort (Howell & Watson, 2007; Solomon & Rothblum,
1984). Procrastination is widespread and, as Schouwenburg
and Groenewoud (2001, p. 238) put it: ‘‘a certain amount of
procrastination belongs to normal behavior.’’ Thus, most
people procrastinate at some point in their lives and do so
more in some contexts than in others. Because of the high
incidence of procrastination in the academic context
(Helmke & Schrader, 2000), the present paper examines
procrastination in the academic domain.
Why should we care about procrastination? The most
compelling reason is probably that procrastination is associ-
ated with a number of negative outcomes such as lower sub-
jective and objective task performance and completion (e.g.,
Beswick, Rothblum, & Mann, 1988; Steel, Brothen, &
Wambach, 2001; Tice & Baumeister, 1997; Vansteenkiste,
Sierens, Soenens, Luyckx, & Lens, 2009). Meta-analyses
demonstrate a negative relationship between procrastination
and grades (Steel, 2007; van Eerde, 2003). Although the asso-
ciation between procrastination and objective performance is
of small to moderate size, subjective evaluations of perfor-
mance might be lowered by procrastination, which, in turn,
might affect self-efficacy and fear of failure. This could result
in a vicious circle by increasing future procrastination (e.g.,
Helmke & Schrader, 2000). With regard to affective conse-
quences, Steel et al. (2001) reported a significant correlation
between self-reported procrastination and negative affect.
Moreover, the definition of procrastination stresses that a
delay of action constitutes a case of procrastination only if
it is accompanied by emotional discomfort. Students know
that they are worse off by not pursuing the goal as planned
but they still cannot bring themselves to do so. This knowl-
edge leads to emotional discomfortand negativeaffect (Steel,
2007; Wolters, 2003). Schraw, Wadkins, and Olafson (2007)
found that students experienced fatigue, stress, guilt, anxiety,
and a lower quality of life as a result of procrastination (see
also Beck, Koons, & Milgrim, 2000; Sirois, Melia-Gordon,
& Pychyl, 2003; Tice & Baumeister, 1997).
How can one overcome procrastination? This theoreti-
cal paper presents a motivational framework centering on
the role of goal focus (process vs. outcome focus) for pro-
crastination. More specifically, we investigate whether it is
more beneficial for overcoming procrastination to focus on
the means of goal pursuit (e.g., review lecture notes, discuss
questions with fellow students), or to focus on the outcome
(e.g., think about the importance and consequences of
Ó2013 Hogrefe Publishing European Psychologist 2013
DOI: 10.1027/1016-9040/a000153
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passing the final exam) in order to initiate and maintain
goal-relevant action. We present a dynamic model that out-
lines the change in adaptiveness of process and outcome
focus for overcoming procrastination over the course of
goal pursuit. Although our model is proposed to hold across
different goal domains, in this article we focus primarily on
the academic context, as procrastination is a very prevalent
phenomenon in this domain.
Previous research on procrastination has identified fear
of failure, task aversiveness, and self-efficacy as central
predictors of procrastination (e.g., van Eerde, 2000;
Wolters, 2003), and has focused on individual differences
in these variables for predicting procrastination (Ferrari,
Johnson, & McCown, 1995; Helmke & Schrader, 2000;
van Eerde, 2003). Less is known about the processes that
link individual differences to procrastination and their inter-
action with contextual variables such as task characteristics
(van Eerde, 2000) or temporal distance to the goal (Moon
& Illingworth, 2005). The central aim of this theoretical
paper is to address this gap in the literature by proposing
a dynamic model that relates procrastination to goal focus
and includes antecedents of procrastination affecting this
relationship as well as consequences of procrastination.
The model is dynamic in that it considers the development
of procrastination and its changes over time and across con-
texts. For excellent reviews of current state of the literature
on procrastination we refer the reader to Klingsieck (2013),
Schouwenburg (1995), van Eerde (2000), or Flett,
Blankstein, and Martin (1995).
Defining Procrastination From
a Dynamic Perspective
The definition of procrastination as the tendency to delay
initiation or completion of goal pursuit implies that procras-
tination can occur in different phases of goal pursuit. Helm-
ke and Schrader (2000; Schraw et al., 2007) integrated
procrastination in the academic context into the Rubicon
model of action phases by H. Heckhausen (1989).
Heckhausens model contains four distinct phases: (1) the
pre-decisional phase (deciding on whether or not to adopt
a goal), (2) the pre-actional phase (planning goal-relevant
action by formulating implementation intentions), (3) the
actional phase (initiating and maintaining goal-relevant
action), and, after having reached the goal, (4) the post-
actional phase (evaluating the means and the results of
the action). Helmke and Schrader assume that procrastina-
tion is the result of failures in self-regulatory processes (see
Table 1). Thus, in the pre-decisional phase, low self-
efficacy beliefs, fear of failure, and self-handicapping can
undermine learning efforts. Self-efficacy beliefs are
peoples beliefs about their capabilities to produce effects
(Bandura, 1997). First, these low self-efficacy beliefs may
prevent students from evaluating their learning attempts
as effective. Second, looming exams may evoke fear of
failure and result in delaying the decision to start studying.
Third, as a means of protecting their self-esteem, students
might postpone the decision to start studying in order to
be able to blame a low grade on external factors such as
lack of time (i.e., self-handicapping).
The factors contributing to procrastination in the pre-
actional and the actional phase are very similar. In the
pre-actional phase people plan the ‘‘how,’’ ‘‘when,’’ and
‘‘why’’ of an action. During the actional phase, these plans
are implemented and, if necessary, reviewed and revised.
Hence, procrastination can be a result of inadequate plan-
ning (Schwarzer, 1999). However, planning is a double-
edged sword: Although making concrete plans has been
shown to enhance subsequent action implementation (e.g.,
Gollwitzer & Brandsttter, 1997; Schmitz & Wiese,
1999), making excessive plans can be used as a strategy
2000). In the actional phase, procrastination also refers to
problems of maintaining goal-relevant actions.
During the course of action, people may interrupt or
even stop their goal-relevant activities. Schwarzer (1996)
proposes that this might be due to coping doubts. Coping
doubts are self-doubts about ones ability to cope with chal-
lenges and setbacks during goal pursuit. Coping doubts can
lead to a lack of persistence and an engagement in more
pleasant or less difficult alternative activities. According
to Frank (1989), the feeling of guilt that usually accompa-
nies procrastination helps to compete with falling for these
Table 1. Incorporation of procrastination into Heckhausens Rubicon Model (1989) according to Helmke and Schrader
Decision Action initiation Deadline
Pre-decisional phase Pre-actional phase Actional phase Post-actional phase
Contributors to procrastination
Low self-efficacy beliefs Inefficient time
management strategies
Lack of control processes Negative evaluation has
consequences on subsequent
learning process
Fear of failure Fear of failure Self-doubt
Self-handicapping State orientation Fear of failure
Poor goal setting Excessive planning Lack of persistence
Attractive alternatives
Coping doubts
2 K. Krause & A. M. Freund: Goal Focus and Procrastination
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attractive alternatives. Wanting to stop this feeling might be
the reason why students start to reengage in goal pursuit.
Difficulties in maintaining goal-relevant actions might also
be due to interference through fear of failure. As will be
explained in more detail below, we posit that focusing on
the means rather than the outcome of goal pursuit might
help to overcome fear of failure.
In the post-actional phase, ones evaluation of the course
of goal-relevant actions and their consequences (i.e., goal
achievement or failure) as well as a cost-benefit analysis
are important for future goal setting and goal pursuit and
will thus also influence future procrastination. For instance,
if students repeatedly experience a lack of self-efficacy as a
consequence of previous procrastination, subsequent goal
setting and goal pursuit are likely to be influenced nega-
tively, especially with regard to self-efficacy beliefs, self-
esteem, fear of failure, and coping doubts. Taken together,
Helmke and Schraders model demonstrates which of the
key self-regulatory processes might be disturbed when pro-
crastination occurs during goal setting and goal pursuit.
Goal Focus
The definition of procrastination outlined above includes
the presence of a goal. However, the literature on procras-
tination has focused primarily on person characteristics or
situational factors. In contrast, the question of which cogni-
tive goal characteristics might be related to procrastination
has been largely neglected (for exceptions see, e.g., Blunt &
Pychyl, 2005). We propose that, in addition to person and
situational characteristics, goal-related constructs such as
the cognitive representation of goals primarily in terms of
the means (process focus) or the outcome (outcome focus)
might play an important role for procrastination.
Goals can be conceptualized as cognitive representa-
tions linking means to desired ends (e.g., Kruglanski,
1996). In other words, goal representations always com-
prise both means and ends. These two components of goals,
however, are not necessarily equally salient for each given
goal and at each given point in time (e.g., Freund,
Hennecke, & Riediger, 2010; Freund, Hennecke, &
Mustafic, 2012). People might focus primarily on the ends
or the outcome of goal pursuit (e.g., to receive a good grade
on the final exam) (Sansone & Thoman, 2005), or focus
primarily on the means or the process of goal pursuit
(e.g., reading a textbook or joining a study group). Process
focus denotes a stronger cognitive salience of the ‘‘how’’ or
means of goal pursuit (e.g., ‘‘How can I get a good grade on
the final?’’); outcome focus relates to the ‘‘why’’ or conse-
quences of goal pursuit (e.g., ‘‘Why do I want to get a good
grade on the final exam?’’) (Pham & Taylor, 1999). Thus,
goal focus refers to the relative salience of the outcome
compared to the process of goal pursuit. We can imagine
the persons goal focus as beaming a flashlight on either
the means or the end of goal pursuit (Freund et al.,
2012). Conceptually, then, goal focus constitutes one
dimension with the two poles of a predominant focus on
the outcome or the process of goal pursuit. A person might
have a very balanced representation of a given goal in terms
of its means and its consequences, not adopting a focus on
either of two goal components. Note, that even if a person
might habitually tend to adopt one of the two foci when
pursuing a goal, goal focus can change depending on such
factors as motivational phase, goal orientation towards
change versus stability, or age (Freund et al., 2012).
the next section, we elaborate on the theoretical role of goal
focus for procrastination.
A Dynamic Model of Procrastination
and Goal Focus
Our model centers on the question which of the two goal
foci is more beneficial for the initiation and maintenance
of goal-relevant actions, for goal achievement, and for sub-
jective well-being. Research concerning the pursuit of dif-
ficult goals such as losing weight or starting with regular
exercise points to the adaptiveness of adopting a process
focus to maintain goal pursuit over time (Freund &
Hennecke, 2012; Freund et al., 2010). Similarly, when pre-
paring for an exam, mentally simulating the process of goal
pursuit rather than focusing on the outcome is related to
better performance on the exam (Pham & Taylor, 1999).
However, studies by Zimmerman and Kitsantas (1997,
1999) suggest that the adaptiveness of goal focus for the
acquisition and mastery of skills depends on the learning
phase. In line with a dynamic view of motivational and
action phases, we expect the adaptiveness of process and
outcome focus to change over the course of goal pursuit.
We will elaborate on the dynamic aspect later.
Let us start with a static ‘‘snapshot’’ of the underlying
mechanisms of the relationship between goal focus and pro-
crastination in the actional phase. The main hypothesis of
the model is that a process focus is negatively related to
procrastination during the nonurgent actional phase (see
Figure 1). Picture again the student who wants to start
studying for an exam. There are several reasons why a pro-
First, a process focus provides guidelines for concrete
means of action (Carver & Scheier, 1998). McCrea,
Liberman, Trope, and Sherman (2008) showed that
people are less likely to procrastinate when a more concrete
There are a number of psychological constructs – most notably intrinsic versus extrinsic motivation (e.g., Deci & Ryan, 2000) and mastery
versus performance motivation (e.g., Dweck, Chiu, & Hong, 1995) – that have some conceptual relationship with goal focus. For a detailed
elaboration of the differentiation of goal focus from these constructs see Freund et al. (2012).
K. Krause & A. M. Freund: Goal Focus and Procrastination 3
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cognitive representation of a given task is induced. One
explanation for this finding is that more abstract or
higher-level construals of a task are related to a greater psy-
chological as well as temporal distance (Trope & Liberman,
2003). A greater perceived distance might, in turn, induce
people to locate the timing for acting on a goal in the distant
future. In other words, when students perceive a goal as
temporally distant, procrastination is more likely than when
students perceive the goal as proximal and requiring imme-
diate action. As proposed by construal-level theory (Trope
& Liberman, 2010), representations of a goal in the near
future lead to a more concrete cognitive construal involving
actions (i.e., process focus) rather than outcomes. If a goal
is construed more concretely, and it is highly structured, its
perceived proximity increases (Liberman, Trope, McCrea,
& Sherman, 2007). In other words, a concrete representa-
tion of a goal in terms of the required means rather than
its outcomes should increase performance and decrease
procrastination (Locke & Latham, 2002; McCrea et al.,
When focusing on the present or the immediate future,
the context as well as the actions necessary to reach a goal
are at the center of attention, making it more likely that a
person will engage in action planning and in forming
implementation intentions (e.g., Gollwitzer, 1999), which
increases the likelihood of action initiation. For example,
creating a schedule that specifies what to study when and
how should make it easier for a person to actually engage
in these behaviors as well as to accurately monitor the
learning process. This kind of planning is often regarded
as a learning strategy that is negatively related to procrasti-
nation (Howell & Buro, 2009; Wolters, 2003).
Standard of Comparison
An outcome focus provides a clear standard for comparing
the current with the desired state. According to Carver and
Scheier (1998), this should help to keep goal-relevant
actions ‘‘on track’’ and, hence, should be adaptive for goal
pursuit and achievement. We do not disagree with this
important function of adopting an outcome focus but pro-
pose a more differentiated perspective regarding the rela-
tionship between outcome focus and procrastination: An
outcome focus and a comparison of the actual and desired
state might come at an emotional and motivational cost
when the discrepancy between the current and desired state
is large. This is particularly true in the early phases of goal
pursuit, for example when a student experiences the differ-
ence between not having started to study for an exam as the
current state and having a good command of the knowledge
summarized in the textbook as a desired state. Focusing on
the desired end state (i.e., adopting an outcome focus)
draws attention to the negative discrepancy between the
current and the desired state (Freund et al., 2010). This
might lead to negative affect, especially when goal progress
is slow (Carver & Scheier, 1998). Negative affect, in turn,
might undermine motivation (Custers & Aarts, 2005).
Affect During Goal Pursuit
If pursuing a given goal is associated with negative affect, it
is necessary to delay gratification until the goal is attained
(e.g., Mischel & Ayduk, 2004). For instance, for many stu-
dents, studying for an exam is less pleasant than going out
with friends. In addition, partying offers immediate rewards
whereas the – albeit maybe much greater – fruits of
studying might lie in the far future. As pointed out by
Howell and Watson (2007, p. 168) ‘‘procrastinators reveal
a tendency toward temporal discounting, wherein the value
of distant, large rewards is downplayed relative to more
immediately available, smaller rewards.’’
In some cases, procrastination may function as a tool for
mood repair. Tice and Bratslavsky (2000) showed that,
compared to participants in a neutral or positive mood,
Figure 1. Dynamic model:
The relation between pro-
crastination and goal focus
during the actional phase.
4 K. Krause & A. M. Freund: Goal Focus and Procrastination
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participants in a sad mood spent less time practicing for an
upcoming math test and more time procrastinating by
engaging in other activities. In other words, sad participants
attempted repairing their sad mood by engaging in other
activities at the expense of working on a less pleasant but
more important task (i.e., preparing for an exam).
Focusing on the means of goal pursuit facilitates the
planning of the specific steps necessary to achieve the goal
and should thereby increase the utility of goal-relevant
action by reducing the delay of rewards (Steel & Kçnig,
2006). Not surprisingly, then, a study by Freund et al.
(2010) showed that focusing on the means rather than the
outcome of goal pursuit was positively related to increases
in subjective well-being over time. In addition, enjoying the
means of goal pursuit (i.e., a ‘‘the way is the goal’’ attitude)
should reduce procrastination, as it renders the task more
pleasurable and hence more likely to be carried out
(Harackiewicz, Manderlink, & Sansone, 1984; Locke &
Latham, 2002). We assume that a process focus offers more
opportunities for positive reinforcement than an outcome
focus if goal pursuit itself is perceived as rewarding.
Flexibility After Failure
Process focus also offers more opportunities to get back on
the wagon after failure (Freund & Hennecke, 2012). More
specifically, we propose, that process focus helps to main-
tain motivation in the face of setbacks such as getting dis-
tracted from work. Think again of the students preparing
for an exam. As mentioned above, attractive alternatives
to studying such as meeting with friends, going to a party,
or watching a favorite TV show might lure students away
from their desks. Procrastination, a form of giving in to
such temptations, might be considered a failure concerning
the goal of studying. Adopting a process focus can help
mastering such failures during goal pursuit by keeping
attention on the means rather than on ones lack of progress
towards the outcome. In fact, Hennecke and Freund (2010)
showed that a process focus led to better self-regulation and
continued goal pursuit when participants experienced fail-
ures and problems during goal pursuit. If students fail in
employing a specific means, process focus should increase
the likelihood of substituting it with another means instead
of procrastinating, thereby offering more flexibility in over-
coming obstacles. For example, instead of procrastinating
by employing the means of reading a textbook alone at
home, the student can replace it by the means of studying
in a group together with peers.
Moderating Conditions and Influencing
Based on previous research, we take a number of moderat-
ing factors into account to understand the relationship
between goal focus and procrastination. The literature on
procrastination agrees that the main antecedents of procras-
tination are fear of failure, task aversiveness, and low
self-efficacy (e.g., Ferrari, 1991; Rothblum, Solomon, &
Murakami, 1986; Schraw et al., 2007; Steel, 2007; van
Eerde, 2000). As task aversiveness should be more strongly
related to the means of goal pursuit, and fear of failure more
strongly related to the outcome, we suggest that the rela-
tionship between process focus and procrastination is mod-
erated by task aversiveness and fear of failure (see
Figure 1). Furthermore, we include self-efficacy because
it refers to the persons evaluation of the means. We
hypothesize that process focus is positively related to
Fear of Failure and Procrastination
A number of studies have shown that fear of failure is pos-
itively related to procrastination (e.g., Haycock, McCarthy,
& Skay, 1998; Lay, Edwards, Parker, & Endler, 1989;
Solomon & Rothblum, 1984). For example, in a study with
a group of college students, Helmke and Schrader (2000)
found that trait as well as state procrastination was substan-
tially correlated with state fear of failure (for further find-
ings, see Ferrari & Tice, 2000; Flett, Blankstein, Hewitt,
& Koledin, 1992; Vansteenkiste et al., 2009). Haghbin,
McCaffrey, and Pychyl (2012) found that the relation
between fear of failure and procrastination was positive
only for students who perceived their levels of competence
as low.
There is some empirical evidence for both causal direc-
tions of the relationship between procrastination and fear of
failure. On the one hand, procrastination has been found to
increase anxiety and depression (Flett, Blankstein, &
Martin, 1995; McCown & Johnson, 1991; Milgram &
Toubiana, 1999). On the other hand, procrastination can
also serve as a technique to avoid a fear-inducing stimulus
such as studying for a challenging exam (Milgram,
Mey-Tal, & Levison, 1998). When one fears the task at
hand, procrastinating results in relief from anxiety, which
negatively reinforces procrastination behavior (Solomon
& Rothblum, 1984). Fear of failure may thus lead to task
avoidance (van Eerde, 2000), resulting in a cyclical behav-
ioral pattern in which task avoidance becomes habitual
(Brownlow & Reasinger, 2000). Accordingly, Schraw and
colleagues (2007) refer to procrastination as a coping
In general, the empirical evidence suggests a moderate
effect size for the impact of fear of failure on procrastina-
tion (e.g., Schouwenburg, 1992; van Eerde, 2003; see also
Senecal, Koestner, & Vallerand, 1995). In the following,
we propose that fear of failure might interact with process
focus in models predicting procrastination.
Fear of Failure Moderates the Relationship
Between Process Focus and Procrastination
We propose that process focus might help to reduce pro-
crastination when fear of failure is high. Outcomes are
higher than means in the goal hierarchy (e.g., Austin &
K. Krause & A. M. Freund: Goal Focus and Procrastination 5
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Vancouver, 1996; Vallacher & Wegner, 1987). The higher
a goal is in the hierarchy, the more likely it is that events
threatening goal achievement elicit rumination (Martin &
Tesser, 1989). Focusing on the outcome of a goal, such
as passing an exam, also makes the possible consequences
of failing more accessible and, thereby, intensifies fear of
failure. In contrast, focusing on the actions required for
passing the exam should bring the means to the foreground
and push the possible consequences into the background of
attention. By focusing on the means, the goal might seem
more manageable. In line with this perspective, Pham and
Taylor (1999) showed that adopting a process focus
reduced anxiety about failure in students preparing for an
exam, which in turn enhanced exam performance. On the
basis of these findings, we suggest that process focus is par-
ticularly beneficial in reducing procrastination for students
high in fear of failure.
Task Aversiveness Predicts Procrastination
The aversiveness of a task, which refers to how unpleasant
people consider a task, is positively related to procrastina-
tion (e.g., Blunt & Pychyl, 2000). Senecal, Lavoie, and
Koestner (1997) found that task aversiveness was associ-
ated with procrastination when participants expected their
performance to be evaluated, as is typically the case in aca-
demic settings. Blunt and Pychyl (2000) suggest that the
anticipated consequences or incentives associated with a
particular task also determine how aversive a person con-
siders a task. Hence, task aversiveness can refer to the pro-
cess of goal pursuing or to the anticipated consequences
(e.g., performance evaluation). In our model, fear of failure
refers to the aversiveness of the anticipated consequences
of an action (e.g., failing an exam), whereas task aversive-
ness refers to the aversiveness of the means to accomplish a
given task (e.g., dislike of studying for an exam). Steel
(2007) concluded from his meta-analysis that people pro-
crastinate more often when performing unpleasant than
pleasant tasks. Blunt and Pychyl (2000) identified boredom,
frustration, and resentment as relatively stable components
of task aversiveness. In their study, they found a significant
correlation between task aversiveness and procrastination
during the actional phase (referring to the Rubicon model
by Heckhausen & Gollwitzer, 1987).
Task Aversiveness Moderates the
Relationship Between Process Focus
and Procrastination
If a student perceives the means to achieve a goal as aver-
sive, focusing on them should increase the likelihood of
procrastination in order to avoid engaging in unpleasant
behaviors. Hence, we assume that process focus increases
procrastination when the means are perceived as aversive.
When the process of goal pursuit (but not the outcome) is
experienced as aversive, it might actually help to focus
on the outcome of goal pursuit. This might increase the
perceived importance of achieving the goal and hence
motivate a student to swallow the bitter pill of engaging
in the unpleasant task to attain the outcome. Consequently,
changing from a process to an outcome focus might be
more adaptive in certain situations, for example, when the
means are perceived as highly aversive and motivation
evolves mainly from the outcome (Freund et al., 2012).
In other words, the higher a student values the outcome,
the more likely s/he engages in the task even if the means
are aversive (Eccles, 1983).
Linking Self-Efficacy, Procrastination,
and Process Focus
The literature suggests that self-efficacy is strongly related
to procrastination (Ferrari, Parker, & Ware, 1992; Haycock
et al., 1998; Klassen, Krawchuk, & Rajani, 2008; Wolters,
2004). Self-efficacy plays an important role in procrastina-
tion in at least three ways: First, self-efficacy influences the
perception of a goal or task. A student with high self-effi-
cacy believes that s/he has the capacity, the competence,
and the resources to manage the task. Schwarzer, Mller,
and Greenglass (1999) refer to this as ‘‘can-do’’ cognitions.
Second, after engaging in a task, highly self-efficacious
people persist longer, recover more quickly from setbacks,
and invest more effort in the task (Schwarzer et al., 1999;
Schwarzer & Jerusalem, 1995). Third, the experience of
being able to ward off distractions and attractive alterna-
tives strengthens a persons self-efficacy (Schunk & Swartz,
1993). As depicted in Figure 1, we suggest that there is a
transfer effect: The experience of being able to manage
the task by employing one means might increase the per-
sons expectation in being able to successfully employ
another means (Bandura, 1977). Adopting a process focus
can strengthen self-efficacy by focusing ones attention on
the means and thereby making a task seem more manage-
able than when one focuses on the outcome. Compatible
with results from Haghbin et al. (2012), procrastination
should decrease as the pursuit of the goal and its completion
become even more likely.
Dynamics of Goal Focus and
Procrastination During Goal Pursuit
Until now, we have focused on the mechanisms underlying
the relationship between goal focus and procrastination. As
was elaborated in the context of Helmke and Schraders
(2000) dynamic model of procrastination, H. Heckhausens
Rubicon model of action phases (1989; Heckhausen &
Gollwitzer, 1987) is particularly well suited for conceptual-
izing the process of goal setting and goal pursuit over time.
Integrating goal focus into the Rubicon model, Freund et al.
(2012) provided a dynamic model of goal focus. Following
this approach, we take a dynamic perspective on the rela-
tionship of goal focus and procrastination over the course
of goal pursuit.
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In the pre-decisional phase, a student has to decide
whether or not s/he wants to adopt a goal. In order to decide
if a goal is worth pursuing, the student analyzes the whole
situation including the consequences of goal achievement.
Blunt and Pychyl (2000) found that in the pre-decisional
phase a lack of personal meaning of a project is associated
with higher task aversiveness and higher procrastination in
the decision to engage in the project. The more the student
values the outcome the more likely s/he will engage in goal
pursuit (Eccles, 1983). Therefore, Freund et al. (2012) pro-
pose that an outcome focus is most likely in this phase.
However, as most goals are predefined in the academic
context (e.g., as class requirements), we do not elaborate
in more detail about procrastination in this phase.
During the pre-actional phase, that is, after having set a
goal and before engaging in goal-relevant action, people
plan the implementation of intentions in terms of how,
when, and where to start (i.e., implementation intentions,
Gollwitzer, 1999). Gollwitzer and colleagues (for an over-
view, see Gollwitzer, 1996) demonstrated in a series of
studies that implementation intentions contributed to actu-
ally engaging in goal pursuit and increased actual rates of
goal completion (e.g., Brandsttter, Heimbeck, Malzacher,
& Frese, 2003; Koole & Vant Spijker, 2000). Adopting a
process focus, i.e., focusing on the goal-related means
and actions during the pre-actional phase, should decrease
procrastination (Gollwitzer & Brandsttter, 1997).
In the actional phase, people engage in goal pursuit
to achieve their goal. According to Heckhausen and
Gollwitzer (1987), this phase is associated with a predom-
inant focus on the outcome on a rather abstract level of rep-
resentation. In contrast, Freund and colleagues (2012) posit
that focusing on the outcome might cause a person to
overlook good opportunities to implement goal-relevant
plans and thus delay goal pursuit. Moreover, based on
J. Heckhausens (1999) distinction between a non-urgent
and an urgent actional phase, we consider that the adaptive-
ness of goal focus might change over the course of the
actional phase (see Figure 2).
When pursuing a long-term goal like writing a compre-
hensive term paper (compared to a short-term goal like
reading a paper for the next class), focusing on the activities
related to goal pursuit (process focus) might help a person
remain motivated more than focusing on the distant out-
come (outcome focus) during the non-urgent phase. As
elaborated in more detail by Freund and colleagues
(2012), the hypothesis of a predominant process focus dur-
ing the actional phase is consistent with the automotive
model by Bargh and Gollwitzer (1994). According to the
automotive model, the repeated activation of a goal in a
certain situation leads to an association between the goal
and situational cues. Subsequently, the situational cues
can automatically trigger goal-relevant actions without the
person being consciously aware of the respective goal. Goal
pursuit, then, does not require conscious awareness of the
outcome in order to initiate and maintain goal-relevant
actions. This suggests that procrastination is less likely
working on the term paper at the same time and place so
as to increase the number of situational cues that automat-
ically trigger goal-relevant actions. Nevertheless, during the
pursuit of long-term goals, one is likely to encounter
unplanned situations and new opportunities. As adopting
a process focus makes other means more cognitively acces-
sible, it should help a person to react flexibly to new cir-
cumstances (Freund et al., 2012). For instance, if meeting
with fellow students in a study group is not possible, a stu-
dent with a process focus should be able to switch to other
means more easily, such as using flash cards or practicing
multiple-choice questions. Thus, in the non-urgent phase,
adopting a process focus should help to counteract procras-
tination by maintaining goal pursuit even when encounter-
ing problems or new situations during goal pursuit (this
phase is depicted in Figure 1). However, this might change
during the urgent phase, that is, when the deadline for goal
achievement (e.g., a final exam) is very near. Deadlines
increase a persons effort in goal pursuit. Several longitudi-
nal studies have shown that procrastination decreases when
a deadline approaches (Moon & Illingworth, 2005; Pychyl,
Lee, Thibodeau, & Blunt, 2000; Schouwenburg, 1995). As
Schraw and colleagues (2007) pointed out, people who pro-
crastinate also tend to organize their academic life around
Figure 2. The shift: The
dynamics of goal focus and
procrastination during goal
K. Krause & A. M. Freund: Goal Focus and Procrastination 7
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The focus on an approaching deadline means constantly
comparing the current state with the distant goal. This
might increase fear of failure and, thereby, procrastination.
Furthermore, if students who still have a lot of time to study
focus on the deadline too early, they might perceive goal
pursuit as exhausting (after all, one still has a long time
to go), which might also result in procrastination. In con-
trast, concentrating on the means of goal pursuit should
reduce fear of failure and, thereby, procrastination (Pham
& Taylor, 1999). In the urgent phase, however, the negative
consequences of missing a deadline might function as an
incentive to organize action in a timely manner (Ariely &
Wertenbroch, 2002). Here, approaching a deadline should
increase the likelihood that one closely monitors the dis-
tance to the goal (J. Heckhausen, 1999), which, in turn, pro-
vides a clear comparison standard and thereby increases the
likelihood of goal achievement (e.g., Locke & Latham,
2002). In other words, approaching a deadline should
increase the salience of the outcome when actual goal
attainment becomes more and more proximal. One of the
processes contributing to the differences between the two
phases might be temporal discounting. Temporal discount-
ing refers to the observation that large rewards in the distant
future are valued less than smaller but immediate rewards
(Frederick, Loewenstein, & ODonoghue, 2002). Thus, if
in the non-urgent phase more immediate rewards are pres-
ent while studying for a distant exam, procrastination is
likely to occur. As elaborated above, a process focus damp-
ens this effect because it offers more opportunities for posi-
tive reinforcement along the way. In the urgent phase,
however, an approaching deadline makes the positive con-
sequences of attaining the goal (and the negative conse-
quences of failing to attain it) more salient, thereby
decreasing procrastination. In fact, in one study conducted
in our group, we found that deadlines induced a shift from
process to outcome focus in university students writing a
term paper (Walter, 2009). When a deadline is very close,
a person has to overcome all factors contributing to procras-
tination (e.g., task aversiveness) by focusing his/her atten-
tion on the outcome and, thereby, increasing its
subjective importance. The perceived or actual negative
consequences of missing a deadline may function as a
strong incentive to engage in goal pursuit and thereby
decrease procrastination (Schraw et al., 2007). This should
be even more the case when focusing on the outcome dur-
ing the urgent phase. As a consequence, adopting an out-
come focus when approaching a deadline should increase
the monitoring of closing the gap between the actual and
the desired state (see Figure 2). Moreover, one could argue
that that the goal pursuer can now profit from the self-effi-
cacy s/he has built during the non-urgent phase and is better
able to master this last phase of goal pursuit. Hence, the
anticipated negative consequences of failing to reach the
goal might dominate over all other concerns or task aver-
siveness and, as a consequence, reduce procrastination.
Taken together, with respect to procrastination, our
model assumes that a process focus is more adaptive than
an outcome focus in the non-urgent part of the actional
phase. A process focus allows a person to be flexible with
regard to new opportunities or situational changes
(Zimmerman & Kitsantas, 1997). When a deadline
approaches and a person enters the urgent phase, the out-
come might become more salient (Freund et al., 2012). In
sum, with respect to procrastination, it might be most ben-
eficial to shift from process focus to outcome focus when
the urgent part of the action phase begins.
Finally, in the post-actional phase, the focus lies on the
outcome, as it centers on goal evaluation. Here, procrastina-
tion might affect the persons reflection processes and their
future decisions. For example, students could procrastinate
on checking their grade online or they could delay the deci-
sion to sign up for a repetition class to take an exam for the
second time. In a study with psychology students, Sirois
(2004) showed that procrastination was related to down-
ward counterfactual thinking. Students who found them-
selves in an anxiety-provoking situation were more likely
to procrastinate and, moreover, to avoid thoughts about
ways in which things could have been better. Focusing
on the outcome in the post-actional phase opens up the pos-
sibility to either acknowledge goal success and boost self-
efficacy for the next goal pursuit or to disengage from
the current goal by engaging in the pursuit of new goals.
Taken together, both procrastination and goal focus are
dynamic constructs that depend on the motivational phase.
However, the dynamics are not only of a temporal nature
but also concern the role of the context in procrastination.
Dynamics of Procrastination as Action
in Context
The context and conditions of studying for an exam are
highly relevant for the development of procrastination in
general (Senecal et al., 1997) and for the relationship
between procrastination and goal focus in particular (see
Figure 1). As Wolters (2003) pointed out, ‘‘procrastination
may be fostered by context-specific factors that promote
studentsfear of failure, evaluation anxiety, feelings of
incompetence, or task aversiveness’’ (p. 179). Context-spe-
cific factors that help a student to deal with procrastination
are, for example, the absence of distractors, social control
(by peers, parents, or teachers), daily routines, the amount
of detailed planning, and a reward system (e.g., Dietz,
Hofer, & Fries, 2007; Schraw et al., 2007; van Eerde,
2000). The degree to which a task is externally structured
seems to play a particularly important role. Pychyl (2011)
suggested that research on procrastination should take into
account notions of responsibility and autonomy. Thus, we
(as a guide for actions) and the degree of autonomy in pur-
suing a given task (as an indicator of the lack of external
structure), and their relation to goal focus. Using the exam-
ple of a students transition from high school to college, we
will compare some of the characteristics of high school
and college, two learning environments in which
8 K. Krause & A. M. Freund: Goal Focus and Procrastination
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procrastination occurs frequently, with respect to academic
Feedback Frequency and Autonomy
At high school, the degrees of freedom regarding studying
are much more constrained compared to college (Wild,
2000). These constraints are partly due to a much more reg-
ulated study schedule at high school. In Europe, high-
school students usually attend classes in the morning and
in the early afternoon and are expected to do their home-
work in the late afternoon or evening. The homework is
often due the next day, leading to a highly regulated study
schedule that helps students to structure their day and to
implement daily study routines. Daily routines can enhance
goal pursuit and decrease procrastination (Dietz et al.,
2007). Furthermore, high-school students typically receive
frequent and relatively prompt feedback. Latham and Seijts
(1999) claim that ‘‘feedback functions as a moderator of
goal effects because the combination of goals plus feedback
is more effective than goals only’’ (p. 708). According to
goal setting theory (Locke & Latham, 2002), goal-progress
feedback informs people about how to best pursue their
goals. It motivates them to work on the goal by monitoring
their progress and by showing them that sub-goals can be
achieved (Schunk & Swartz, 1993). Additionally, tempo-
rally close feedback minimizes the requirement for delay
of gratification (Howell & Watson, 2007). We assume that
the highly structured context of high-school students simu-
lates a constant urgent phase. Thus, the high-school context
makes the adoption of an outcome focus more likely and
Van Eerde (2000) notes that a certain amount of auton-
omy is a necessary precondition for procrastination. One
significant change in study contexts when transitioning
from high school to college is that the frequency of feed-
back decreases substantially while autonomy with respect
to how, when, and what to study increases (Raymore,
Barber, Eccles, & Godbey, 1999). College students have
to attend classes but they might be spread out across the
day, sometimes with a number of hours of unstructured
time between classes. Moreover, course requirements are
due with more time between receiving the task and having
to hand it in. This places higher demands on self-regulation
(van Eerde, 2000). Moreover, feedback is typically more
delayed, which necessitates greater ability to persist in a
task without immediate gratification (Mischel & Ayduk,
2004). During the study process, college students have to
maintain their learning motivation over a longer period of
time, which requires a number of self-regulatory skills, such
as solving problems on their own, persisting in the face of
setbacks, and, importantly, warding off possible distrac-
tions. In contexts like these, that offer high degrees of free-
dom and only infrequent external feedback, it might be
particularly beneficial for college students to adopt a pro-
cess focus to counteract procrastination.
Thus, the specific study context plays an important role
for the adaptiveness of goal focus in reducing procrastina-
tion. In particular, the structuredness of the study context,
the degrees of freedom or autonomy, and the frequency
of feedback are likely to influence procrastination.
Summary, Empirical Implications,
and Conclusion
This article introduced the concept of goal focus to the
investigation of procrastination by presenting a dynamic
model of goal focus and procrastination. Our model pro-
poses that goal focus interacts with well-known antecedents
of procrastination, namely fear of failure, task aversiveness,
and self-efficacy. More specifically, we suggest that a pro-
cess focus might help by reducing the negative effect of
fear of failure during the initiation and maintenance of goal
pursuit. Furthermore, we propose that a process focus might
increase self-efficacy, which, in turn, is negatively related
to procrastination. However, adopting an outcome focus
might help coping with task aversiveness and reduce pro-
crastination when the very process of goal pursuit is per-
ceived as aversive. The model currently awaits direct
empirical tests. It is our hope that this article will stimulate
such empirical research. Although we have focused on pro-
crastination in the academic domain as a prototypical sam-
ple case in this article, the model is designed to be general
and can be applied to nonacademic contexts such as health
behaviors or work. Taking an ideographic approach, one
could also investigate procrastination regarding peoples
personal goals, for instance using Littles Personal Projects
Analysis (for a similar approach see Blunt & Pychyl, 2005).
In the following, we mention the main three empirical
hypotheses that can be derived from our model.
First, the model postulates that the cognitive representa-
tion of the goal primarily in terms of its process or its out-
come could either increase or decrease procrastination
depending on the motivational phase, fear of failure, and
task aversiveness. Thus, empirical research needs to go
beyond person-related variables such as self-efficacy and
fear of failure and include the cognitive representation of
the goal. Second, the study of procrastination requires a
dynamic perspective on procrastination as changing over
the course of goal pursuit (Helmke & Schrader, 2000).
Likewise, we posit that the adaptiveness of goal focus var-
ies by motivational phase. A process focus is hypothesized
to be more beneficial than an outcome focus when one is
attempting to overcome procrastination during the non-
urgent actional phase. During the urgent phase (i.e., when
a deadline is very close), an outcome focus should increase
the importance goal achievement and thereby decrease pro-
crastination irrespective of task aversiveness. To test these
hypotheses, research needs to include multiple measure-
ment occasions that repeatedly assess procrastination and
its antecedents over time and motivational phases. One pos-
sible study that is currently undertaken entails a field study
repeatedly assessing students` goal focus, fear of failure,
task aversiveness, procrastination, and study behavior when
they study for an exam over a longer time period (i.e., from
the beginning of the study phase until after the exam).
K. Krause & A. M. Freund: Goal Focus and Procrastination 9
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In another approach, we will manipulate studentsgoal
focus to be able to make better inferences about the causal
associations between goal focus and procrastination. A
third important implication of our model is that the context
needs to be considered as well. One very promising way of
studying the role of context might be a comparison of the
setting of high schools with that of colleges, as they differ
systematically on important dimensions (frequency of feed-
back, autonomy) that might contribute to procrastination.
This paper introduced a theoretical framework focusing
on the mechanisms underlying individual differences in
procrastination and their interaction with contextual vari-
ables. We emphasized the role of the cognitive representa-
tion of a goal more in terms of its means (process focus) or
its consequences (outcome focus) for procrastination.
Moreover, we have stressed the dynamic changes of the
role of goal focus for procrastination over the course of
the motivational process. Finally and importantly, the
model stresses the characteristics of the means (i.e., task
aversiveness) and the outcome (i.e., fear of failure) as mod-
erators for the impact of goal focus on procrastination.
Thus, our model integrates individual differences, motiva-
tional aspects as well as contextual influences. We maintain
that such a complex model is necessary when dealing with
such a complex phenomenon as procrastination. With the
exception of goal focus, these factors have been considered
in previous research on procrastination. However, none of
the existing research integrates the construct of goal focus
and the interactions of goal focus with task aversiveness
and fear of failure into a dynamic model considering the
different phases of goal setting and pursuit. Thus, the model
offers the possibility to make specific predictions for the
likelihood of procrastinating for each point in time during
goal pursuit depending on the goal focus, fear of failure,
and task aversiveness. This should also help in designing
interventions how to beat procrastination.
This research was supported by a grant from the Swiss
National Science Foundation (Project ‘‘Process and out-
comefocus–Theroleofage,’’ ID: 100014-116528; PI:
Alexandra M. Freund). The authors would like to thank
the Life-Management team at the University of Zurich
for helpful discussions of the work reported in this paper
and Kai Cortina, Jacquelynne Eccles, and Ralf Schwarzer
for their valuable input. Kathrin Krause is a fellow of the
International Max Planck Research School on the Life
Course (LIFE).
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Received June 14, 2012
Accepted March 22, 2013
Published online August 6, 2013
About the authors
Kathrin Krause is a PhD student in the
Department of Psychology of the Uni-
versity of Zurich, Switzerland. Her re-
search interests include motivational
aspects of learning and training, self-reg-
ulation changes across the life span, and
life-long learning. She is a fellow of the
International Max Planck Research
School ‘‘LIFE’’ and has received funding
from the Bisch Foundation and the Swiss
National Science Foundation (SNSF).
Alexandra M. Freund is Professor of
Psychology in the Department of Psy-
chology of the University of Zurich,
Switzerland. She is the Zurich speaker of
the International Max Planck Research
School ‘‘The Life Course: Evolutionary
and Ontogenetic Dynamics (LIFE).’’ Her
main research area is the development of
motivation across the life span and the
role of motivation for successful devel-
opment. Her recent publications revolve
around the topics of the adaptiveness of
goal orientation toward gains or losses
depending on life-span changes in the
availability of resources and the role of
goal focus on means or ends (i.e., process
vs. outcome focus) for adaptive develop-
ment. Her current research projects are
funded by the Swiss National Science
Foundation (SNSF).
Kathrin Krause, Alexandra M. Freund
Department of Psychology
University of Zurich
Binzmuehlestrasse 14/11
8050 Zurich
Tel. +41 44 635-7206
Fax +41 44 635-7209
K. Krause & A. M. Freund: Goal Focus and Procrastination 13
Author’s personal copy (e-offprint)
Ó2013 Hogrefe Publishing European Psychologist 2013
... We aimed to extend previous research in three ways. First, previous research has either captured students' procrastination behavior by retrospective questionnaires or by the observation of temporal discrepancies (e.g., delayed submissions or differences between time planned and spent on learning) that were only weakly or moderately related to their general procrastination tendencies (e.g., Dewitte & Schouwenburg, 2002;Krause & Freund, 2014;Steel et al., 2001). The present study implemented an experience sampling approach that captured students' procrastination behavior using an adaptive e-diary six times a day for seven days while studying for an exam. ...
... Our study further contributes to the limited number of studies that have examined relations between students' general procrastination tendencies and their actual procrastination behavior. Indicators of behavioral delay (i.e., delays in task submission or the difference between planned and actual time spent studying) that have been used in previous studies were weakly or at best moderately related to students' self-reported procrastination tendencies (Dewitte & Schouwenburg, 2002;Krause & Freund, 2014;Moon & Illingworth, 2005;Steel et al., 2001). These findings point to some weaknesses in the measures that have been previously used to capture students' procrastination behavior. ...
... These findings point to some weaknesses in the measures that have been previously used to capture students' procrastination behavior. The temporal discrepancy between the availability of a weekly online test and its actual completion (e.g., Moon & Illingworth, 2005;Steel et al., 2001) has the disadvantage that later completion does not necessarily reflect procrastination behavior, as it is not known whether students intended to take the test immediately (see, Klingsieck, 2013;Krause & Freund, 2014;Wieland et al., 2018). Studies that recorded the weekly or semi-weekly deviation between the time students intended to study and the time they spent studying (e.g., Dewitte & Schouwenburg, 2002;Krause & Freund, 2014) consider that an intention must be present to qualify a deviation as procrastination. ...
Procrastination is thought to be affected by trait-based and by situational, or task-specific determinants. Situational and task-specific influences on students' procrastination behavior have rarely been studied. Most research has examined trait-based individual differences in students' general procrastination tendencies. This study used an adaptive experience sampling approach to assess students' (N = 88) task-related perceptions of ambiguity and their situation-specific procrastination behavior during exam preparation six times a day for seven days (n = 3581 measurements). Results revealed that 30% of all intended study sessions were procrastinated. The risk that study sessions were procrastinated increased with students' task-related ambiguity perceptions. Individuals' average risk of procrastinating study sessions was further predicted by their procrastination tendency and conscientiousness assessed at baseline. The findings suggest interventions that promote students’ ability to self-regulate but also modify tasks and instructions. Further implications and suggestions for future research are discussed.
... On the other hand, daily monitoring encouraged the students to focus more on the process and less on the outcome; therefore, they experienced daily success instead of feeling a failure when the goals were not achievable. Krause and Freund [50] believed that being process-focused was more helpful in reducing the fear of failure and keeping students in pursuit of their goals rather than being outcome-focused. ...
... Due to the limited sample size, caution must be applied, as the findings might not apply to broader population. Generalization should be limited to the participant, treatment, output, and setting that similar to this study [50]. To conclude, the present study demonstrated that a writing group could potentially reduce academic procrastination. ...
Full-text available
Background Procrastination is a common problem in higher education. It leads to negative consequences on students’ health and academic achievement. Nevertheless, research concerning interventions has not yet produced consistent results. This study aims to examine the effectiveness of a writing group program on reducing academic procrastination. Methods This study was a quasi-experimental study with a one-group pretest-posttest design using double pretests. A double pretest design was used to ensure the internal validity of the experiment. Twenty graduate students followed a 15-days writing group program consisted of a training session and four sessions of writing groups. A thesis procrastination scale was used to measure the intervention’s effects. Results The writing group program helped students to set a writing target, discussed writing progress, and provided social support to their colleagues. The results showed that the intervention program could significantly decrease academic procrastination. Conclusion The present study demonstrated that a writing group could potentially reduce academic procrastination. Thus, students could benefit from a writing group when working on their master thesis. A thesis preparation course that provides information about goal-setting strategy and the principles of effective writing habits (i.e., behavioral, artisanal, social and emotional habits), might also assist students in writing their thesis. Further research is needed, preferably through the provision of a control group, a randomized assignment and a larger sample.
... So far, the majority of the studies exploring how personality traits influence procrastination have been conducted in developed countries (e.g., Kim & Seo, 2015;Steel, 2007;Steel & Klingsieck, 2016). Further, there is also considerable literature on how to overcome procrastination (Glick & Orsillo, 2015;Krause & Freund, 2014;Owens et al., 2008). Anecdotal evidence shows that procrastination is a social issue affecting academic performance and excellence among students (Ghana News Agency, 2018). ...
... The negative predictive effect of openness to experience on academic procrastination is not surprising (Krause & Freund, 2014;Rastegar et al., 2016). The literature suggests that individuals with high levels of openness are more adaptable to changing circumstances and are more willing and innovative and likely to think about new ideas (McCrae & Costa, 1997). ...
Procrastination on academic tasks is a common problem affecting learning and achievement of university students globally. In Western and developed countries, personality types have been implicated in academic procrastination, but such evidence has not been adduced within the Ghanaian context. This study was therefore conducted to explore the possible role of personality types on academic procrastination among undergraduate students. Two hundred (200) students (Mean age = 20.78 years; SD = 2.27) conveniently sampled completed the Academic Procrastination Scale and the Big Five Personality Inventory. Correlational analysis showed that academic procrastination was negatively associated with openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, and agreeableness but positively related to neuroticism. Further standard multiple regression analysis showed only two dimensions of the personality traits: Neuroticism and openness made significant prediction of academic procrastination. Neuroticism made the strongest unique predictor of academic procrastination (β = 0.23; t = 2.74; p < .01) followed by openness (β = – 0.20; t = −2.18; p < .05). The current study provides important information needed for the development of intervention programs that will help reduce academic procrastination among students, with specific emphasis on implicated personality traits.
... Studies have found that academic procrastination is widespread among university students, with 70-95% reporting such behavior [1]. It has been suggested that academic procrastination is associated with poor academic performance [3] and higher levels of emotional problems, such as stress, depression, and anxiety [4][5][6][7][8]. ...
Full-text available
Previous studies have suggested that physical activity may decrease academic procrastination; however, few studies have explored the underlying mechanisms of how physical activity exerts an effect on academic procrastination. This study aimed to examine the mediating effects of self-control and self-efficacy in the relationship between physical activity and academic procrastination among Chinese university students. Methods: A cross-sectional design was used in this study. The sample comprised 564 university students from a university in Zhejiang, China. The physical activity rating scale-3 (PARS-3), self-control scale (SCS), generalized self-efficacy scale (GSES), and procrastination assessment scale-students (PASS) were used to investigate university students' physical activity, self-control, self-efficacy, and academic procrastination respectively. The Percentile-Bootstrap technique was performed to examine the mediating effects of self-control and self-efficacy on the association between physical activity and academic procrastination. Results: Physical activity significantly predicted higher levels of self-control and self-efficacy, as well as lower levels of academic procrastination. Self-control and self-efficacy were significant mediators between physical activity and academic procrastination. Conclusion: This study indicated that physical activity interventions targeting the improvement of self-control and self-efficacy may reduce academic procrastination in university students.
... In such workshops, teachers might be divided into smaller groups (e.g., a group for assessment and evaluation, another for program and materials design, etc.) to increase productivity. If tasks become easier to handle, this then reduces their aversiveness thus procrastination (Krause & Freund, 2014). ...
... Wanneer gekeken wordt naar de verschillende definiëringen van uitstelgedrag, komen twee hoofdcomponenten naar voren, namelijk het uitstellen zelf en de mate van ongemak die daardoor wordt ervaren (Freund & Krause, 2014). Steel (2007) beschrijft uitstelgedrag als 'het vrijwillig uitstellen van een taak, waarbij het individu zich bewust is dat het door het uitstellen van de taak, een lagere kans heeft om dit succesvol te voltooien'. ...
Full-text available
Academic procrastination as a predictor of study success (Mulder, 2018) To limit study delay and dropout rates, the Saxion procrastination research group is developing a screening instrument that can identify students at an early stage on risk and success factors for study success. Building on the results Van de Bilt (2016) and Koopmans (2017) is also recommended to combine the 12 items originating from the SBS/PASS that are (negatively) related to study success, with items that assess active procrastination.
... Participants in Group 3 were provided information about the value of interim goals and were instructed to formulate six such goals for their New Year's resolutions. Focusing on a distant future enables people to postpone their efforts, which is yet again a phenomenon often described in the literature on procrastination (e.g., [26]); conversely, interim goals that are temporally closer effectively mobilize our efforts and thereby determine to what we devote ourselves here and now [27]. ...
Full-text available
Despite the popularity of New Year’s resolutions, current knowledge about them is limited. We investigated what resolutions people make when they are free to formulate them, whether different resolutions reach differing success rates, and whether it is possible to increase the likelihood of a resolution’s success by administering information and exercises on effective goal setting. Participants (N = 1066) from the general public were randomized into three groups: active control, some support, and extended support. The most popular resolutions regarded physical health, weight loss, and eating habits. At a one-year follow-up, 55% of responders considered themselves successful in sustaining their resolutions. Participants with approach-oriented goals were significantly more successful than those with avoidance-oriented goals (58.9% vs. 47.1%). The group that received some support was exclusively and significantly more successful compared to the other two. This study reveals that New Year’s resolutions can have lasting effects, even at a one-year follow-up.
Intentional self-regulation (ISR), defined as actions to set, strive for, and maximize the chances to achieve goals, is linked to positive outcomes in adolescence. Underlying ISR is the goal focus, which refers to framing a goal in terms of its means (process focus) or its ends (outcome focus). A process focus is consistently linked to more positive results than an outcome focus in adult samples, but process and outcome foci are understudied in adolescence. This paper illuminates the benefits of a process focus for adolescent goal pursuit in three points. First, ISR is critical during adolescence and has been linked to lifelong outcomes. Second, while a process focus is beneficial in adulthood and this is likely similar in adolescence, developmental and contextual factors push adolescents towards adopting an outcome focus. Third, developing a process or outcome focus has significant implications for the selection, optimization, and compensation model. Implications and future directions are discussed.
Full-text available
Αcademic procrastination, characterized by self-regulation difficulties in delaying the start or completion of academic tasks (Ferrari, 2010), is widespread among university students. One of the most widely used measures of academic procrastination is Procrastination Assessment Scale Students (PASS, Solomon &Rotblum, 1984). However, there is adearth of research investigating its factorial structure using confirmatory factor analysis. Greek studies on academic procrastination are also scarce. The present study investigated academic procrastination among Greek university students (n = 865),as well as the factorial structure of PΑSS. Results from a CFA supported a one factor solution. Moreover, 40.5% of students were characterized as frequent procrastinators, towards reading for the exams, writing essays or attending classes. The reasons students gave for procrastinating were “fear of failure”, “task aversion”, “fear of success /peer pressure” and “lack of assertiveness/ time management skills”. No major, age, or gender differences in academic procrastination were detected. Finally, most students wished to participate in a future anti-procrastination program. Findings increase the ecological validity of current literature and could be potentially useful for counselors and researchers
The purpose of this research was to determine the effects of attachment styles and academic procrastination on subjective well-being in university students. In line with the causal research design, the study group consisted of 733 university students, 513 female and 220 male. The Subjective Well-Being Scale, the Academic Procrastination Scale, the Relationship Scales Questionnaire and a Personal Information Form were used for data collection. Data were subjected to path analysis. The findings from the study show that a preoccupied attachment style has a direct, positive effect on academic procrastination, while academic procrastination has a direct, negative effect on subjective well-being. We concluded that a preoccupied attachment style has an indirect effect on subjective well-being.
Das Lehrbuch "Motivation und Handeln" gilt als Standardwerk der Motivationspsychologie. Die 3. Auflage wurde komplett überarbeitet und um einige Kapitel ergänzt. Dabei wurden die Modelle, Theorien und die Übersicht über empirische Arbeiten aktualisiert; integrative Modelle und viele Querverweise zielen auf die im Fach wichtige Integration von volitionaler und motivationaler Perspektive ab. Auch die neuen evolutions- und biopsychologischen Perspektiven werden ausführlich behandelt. Neu in der 3. Auflage ist auch die lernfreundliche Didaktik: Hervorgehobene Schlüsselbegriffe und Kapitelzusammenfassungen, Anwendungsbeispiele aus Schule, Arbeitsleben, Familie und Freizeit, Boxen mit klassischen oder originellen Studien sowie Fragen und Antworten zur Wissensüberprüfung. "Motivation und Handeln" liefert somit in der Neuauflage einen umfassenden und lebendigen Überblick über den derzeitigen Stand der Motivationsforschung. Für den Psychologie-Studenten im Grundstudium ist dieses Lehrbuch ein Studienbegleiter; für Fortgeschrittene, Lehrende und Forscher hat es sich als Handbuch und Nachschlagewerk bewährt.
Presents an integrative theoretical framework to explain and to predict psychological changes achieved by different modes of treatment. This theory states that psychological procedures, whatever their form, alter the level and strength of self-efficacy. It is hypothesized that expectations of personal efficacy determine whether coping behavior will be initiated, how much effort will be expended, and how long it will be sustained in the face of obstacles and aversive experiences. Persistence in activities that are subjectively threatening but in fact relatively safe produces, through experiences of mastery, further enhancement of self-efficacy and corresponding reductions in defensive behavior. In the proposed model, expectations of personal efficacy are derived from 4 principal sources of information: performance accomplishments, vicarious experience, verbal persuasion, and physiological states. Factors influencing the cognitive processing of efficacy information arise from enactive, vicarious, exhortative, and emotive sources. The differential power of diverse therapeutic procedures is analyzed in terms of the postulated cognitive mechanism of operation. Findings are reported from microanalyses of enactive, vicarious, and emotive modes of treatment that support the hypothesized relationship between perceived self-efficacy and behavioral changes. (21/2 p ref)
Conference Paper
The effect of a proximal plus a distal goal was investigated relative to setting only a distal goal or urging participants to do their best. Young adults (N = 39) were paid on a piece rate basis to make toys. An analysis of variance revealed that the amount of money earned by the participants who were urged to 'do your best' was significantly greater than the amount of money earned by the participants who were assigned a distal goal. However, the amount of money earned by the participants who were assigned proximal goals, in addition to a distal goal, was significantly greater than the amount of money earned by the participants in the 'do your best' condition. The correlation between perceived self-efficacy and the amount of money earned was 0.45 (p < 0.01). Perceived self-efficacy significantly increased only for those participants in the proximal plus distal goal condition. Proximal goals, through self-efficacy and performance feedback, appear to have focused attention on task appropriate strategies. The results suggest an informational explanation of proximal goals as opposed to a motivational one through goal commitment. Implications of these findings for mentoring and training are discussed. Copyright (C) 1999 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
The effects of goal setting and self-monitoring during self-regulated practice on the acquisition of a complex motoric skill were studied with 90 high school girls. It was hypothesized that girls who shifted goals developmentally from process to outcome goals would surpass classmates who adhered to only process goals who, in turn, would exceed classmates who used only outcome goals in posttest dart-throwing skill, self-reactions, self-efficacy perceptions, and intrinsic interest in the game. Support for all hypotheses derived from the developmental model was found. The girls' self-reactions to dart-throwing outcomes and self-efficacy perceptions about dart skill were highly correlated with their intrinsic interest in the game. It was also found that self-recording, a formal form of self-monitoring, enhanced dart-throwing skill, self-efficacy, and self-reaction beliefs. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
It has been estimated that over 70% of college students engage in procrastination (Ellis & Knaus, 1977). Solomon and Rothblum (1984) concluded that academic procrastination may depend on the task: Among university students in an introductory psychology course, 46% of students reported procrastination when writing a term paper, 30% when reading weekly assignments, 28% when studying for exams, 23% on attendance tasks, and 11% on administrative tasks. In addition, they examined possible causes of academic procrastination, as perceived by students. Results indicated that fear of failure and task aversiveness were the primary motives reported. These motives have been replicated with Dutch university students as well (Schouwenburg, 1992a).