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Background and objectives: Procrastination is a common problem among college students. Negative affect associated with stress and anxiety is linked to higher levels of procrastination. Although there is a relationship between procrastination and affect, little is known about the direction of this relationship. The current study explored whether changes in daily negative affect (NA) or positive affect (PA) preceded procrastination or whether procrastination preceded changes in affect. Method and design: The current study is a secondary data analysis of a larger study. After completing an initial survey assessing students' emotional well-being, students were asked to participate in a follow-up daily diary survey. Participants in the daily diary (N = 53) completed a brief survey each weekday evening for two weeks that assessed daily affect and events. Multilevel regression tested whether NA and PA predicted next-day procrastination and vice versa. Results: Cross-lag panel analysis demonstrated that students reported more procrastination following days they experienced higher levels of NA. However, procrastination did not predict changes in NA. PA was not associated with prior day or next day procrastination experiences when controlling for NA. Conclusions: These findings demonstrate that negative emotions motivate procrastination behavior. Implications for helping students cope with and regulate NA are discussed.
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Anxiety, Stress, & Coping
An International Journal
ISSN: 1061-5806 (Print) 1477-2205 (Online) Journal homepage:
Prior Day Negative Affect Influences Current Day
Procrastination: A Lagged Daily Diary Analysis
Shira Pollack & Joanna Herres
To cite this article: Shira Pollack & Joanna Herres (2020): Prior Day Negative Affect Influences
Current Day Procrastination: A Lagged Daily Diary Analysis, Anxiety, Stress, & Coping, DOI:
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Published online: 03 Feb 2020.
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Prior Day Negative Aect Inuences Current Day Procrastination:
A Lagged Daily Diary Analysis
Shira Pollack and Joanna Herres
Psychology Department, The College of New Jersey, Ewing, New Jersey, USA
Background and objectives: Procrastination is a common problem
among college students. Negative aect associated with stress and
anxiety is linked to higher levels of procrastination. Although there is a
relationship between procrastination and aect, little is known about the
direction of this relationship. The current study explored whether
changes in daily negative aect (NA) or positive aect (PA) preceded
procrastination or whether procrastination preceded changes in aect.
Method and design: The current study is a secondary data analysis of a
larger study. After completing an initial survey assessing students
emotional well-being, students were asked to participate in a follow-up
daily diary survey. Participants in the daily diary (N= 53) completed a
brief survey each weekday evening for two weeks that assessed daily
aect and events. Multilevel regression tested whether NA and PA
predicted next-day procrastination and vice versa. Results: Cross-lag
panel analysis demonstrated that students reported more
procrastination following days they experienced higher levels of NA.
However, procrastination did not predict changes in NA. PA was not
associated with prior day or next day procrastination experiences when
controlling for NA. Conclusions: These ndings demonstrate that
negative emotions motivate procrastination behavior. Implications for
helping students cope with and regulate NA are discussed.
Received 14 March 2019
Revised 24 January 2020
Accepted 24 January 2020
Procrastination; emotion
regulation; negative aect;
college students; avoidance
Ill do it tomorrowis a common phrase expressed by college students. Between 80 and 95% of
college students procrastinate in their daily work (Steel, 2007). Procrastination, or voluntary delaying
of tasks and responsibilities despite being worse obecause of the delay (Sirois & Pychyl, 2013), inter-
feres with studentsability to accomplish tasks in a timely manner and achieve long-term goals. The
degree to which people generally procrastinate (i.e., trait procrastination) is associated with worse
academic performance including lower assignment grades, course grades, and grade point averages
(Kljajic & Gaudreau, 2018; Steel, 2007). A study that analyzed factors aecting retention in community
college courses found that procrastination and poor time management are the primary reasons for
college student failure or drop out (Doherty, 2006).
College students often procrastinate even when they are aware of the pressure to complete cour-
sework on time and balance responsibilities. Chronic procrastinators tend to attribute their procras-
tination to individual characteristics, such as laziness, a lack of motivation, and poor time
management skills (Senecal, Koestner, & Vallerand, 2010). However, procrastination is more than
just a self-sabotaging personality trait. Rather, it is a state-like behavior related to uctuating
emotional experiences (Steel, 2007). While the link between emotions and procrastination is clear,
there are varying interpretations regarding whether emotions precede procrastination or
© 2020 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group
CONTACT Joanna Herres
procrastination precedes emotions. This lack of clarity regarding the direction of eects makes it
dicult to identify which behavior to target when working with students to increase their pro-
ductivity and improve their emotional well-being. In the current study, we examined the direction
of eects between daily procrastination and aect in liberal arts college students. This was a second-
ary analysis of daily diary data from a larger survey study investigating aspects of campus emotional
NA precedes procrastination
Results of several studies indicate that negative aect (NA) precedes procrastination. Schoolwork is
often perceived as unpleasant, frustrating, boring, and anxiety-provoking (e.g., Kaftan & Freund,
2019). The theory of virtuous and vicious circles illustrates how when students perceive a task as aver-
sive or experience low self-ecacy towards completing a task, they tend to procrastinate (Wäschle,
Allgaier, Lachner, Fink, & Nückles, 2014). Their negative perception of tackling the task creates a ten-
dency for them to delay completing it altogether. Furthermore, students who experience negative
emotions in response to schoolwork may develop poor impulse control, the inability to resist
urges and immediate desires (Tice, Bratslavsky, & Baumeister, 2001). For example, distress caused
by approaching assignment deadlines and exams can interfere with a students ability to exercise
self-control and resist procrastination. When distressed or anxious, many students give in to short-
term mood repair in order to feel better in the moment, rather than choosing behavior that will
help them to achieve long-term goals (Sirois & Pychyl, 2013). In other words, negative emotions
associated with schoolwork may prompt students to engage in other, more pleasant activities in
order to improve their mood. Avoiding unpleasant tasks through procrastination improves mood
temporarily; however, giving in to feel goodand prioritizing immediate impulses can interfere
with meeting long-term goals, such as achieving a high GPA, landing a preferred career, or living
a healthy lifestyle (Tice & Bratslavsky, 2000). Similar to the urge to procrastinate, individuals
consume alcohol, drugs, and high calorie foods in an attempt to improve mood; however, while
these substances may improve mood temporarily, they may also result in serious negative conse-
quences (Tice & Bratslavsky, 2000). When distressed, students may experience diculty controlling
the impulse to engage in activities that provide immediate relief, prioritizing the present self over
the future self (Ferrari & Díaz-Morales, 2007; Sirois & Pychyl, 2013). Thus, students may satisfy
current emotional desires at the expense of future goals (Sirois & Pychyl, 2013).
PA precedes procrastination
The majority of research on the link between aect and procrastination focuses on NA. However, low
positive aect (PA) may also precede procrastination. Positive emotions feel good in the present
moment and increase the likelihood that one will continue to feel good in the future (Fredrickson
& Joiner, 2002). According to the broaden and build theory, positive emotions broaden peoples atten-
tion and cognition, while negative emotions narrow these thought processes (Garland et al., 2010). In
an application of this theory to the workplace, positive emotions enhanced productivity and motiv-
ation, increasing likelihood of success (Martin, 2008). Furthermore, greater positive psychological
resources, including positive emotions such as hope and optimism, are related to better academic
performance (Carmona-Halty, Salanova, Llorens, & Schaufeli, 2018). Positive emotions, such as joy,
motivate individuals to expand physical, intellectual, and social resources (Garland et al., 2010).
According to the broaden-and-build theory, positive emotions help students accomplish academic
tasks by focusing attention and improving motivation and desire for new inquiry. Moreover, positive
emotions help people mindfully attend to the present moment (Fredrickson, Cohn, Coey, Pek, &
Finkel, 2008), and mindfulness is associated with more persistence on a dicult task (Evans, Baer,
& Segerstrom, 2009). Thus, while negative emotions make it dicult to resist procrastination, positive
emotions may reduce the urge to procrastinate (Tice, Baumeister, & Zhang, 2004).
Procrastination precedes NA
While prior research shows that more NA and less PA precede procrastination, other research shows
that changes in aect follow procrastination. In their theory of virtuous and vicious circles, Wäschle
et al. (2014) explains how procrastination leads to the perception that goal achievement is not poss-
ible, which stirs up negative emotions, such as disappointment, and creates a tendency for students
to anticipate failure the next time a similar task comes along. Consequently, students may not be able
to resist avoiding the task completely as to avoid this failure, thus allowing for a negative feedback
loop with amplied procrastination, the perception of low goal achievement, and negative emotions.
Students frequently reach out to university counselors for help decreasing their level of procras-
tination because of the emotional distress caused by this behavior (Schowuenburg, Lay, Pychyl, &
Ferrari, 2004). Trait procrastination is positively related to stress, depressiveness, anxiety, fatigue,
and reduced life satisfaction (Beutel et al., 2016). In one study, researchers found that avoidant pro-
crastination was associated with guilt and stress ratings over a 14-week time period (Kaftan & Freund,
2019). Thus, prior research shows that greater procrastination is associated with more negative
emotions such as guilt, shame, stress, regret, self-blame, anxiety, and despair (Blunt & Pychyl,
2005; van Eerde, 2003; Zeenath & Orcullo, 2012). Flett, Haghbin, and Pychyl (2016) discovered that
individuals who engaged in academic procrastination and procrastinatory cognitions had higher
levels of depression. Avoiding an undesirable task provides short-term momentary relief from nega-
tive emotions (Pychyl, Lee, Thibodeau, & Blunt, 2000), but it may lead to increased NA over time
(Ferrari, 2010).
Procrastination precedes PA
Little research has been conducted to examine aective consequences following more productive
days in which procrastination is relatively low. According to Wäschle et al. (2014), higher goal achieve-
ment is associated with higher self-ecacy. The theory of vicious and virtuous circles can be applied
to the current study by comparing high goal achievement to lower procrastination and higher self-
ecacy with positive aect that comes along with it. For example, the more students accomplish
their goals in a timely manner, the better othey are going to feel about themselves and their aca-
demic capabilities. In a recent study, researchers found that trait procrastination was associated with
lower levels of next-day positive aect among college students (Sirois & Giguére, 2018). Another
recent study showed that a productive work environment increases overall emotional well-being
(Rivkin, Diestel, & Schmidt, 2018). Furthermore, motivation, persistence, and engagement in
school-related activities and tasks is related to enjoyment of schoolwork and general positive
emotions (Hagenauer & Hascher, 2014). A daily diary study showed that productivity led to increased
positive mood the following day (Lavy & Littman-Ovadia, 2017; Lavy, Littman-Ovadia, & Bareli, 2014).
More specically, work engagement and productivity triggered desirable outcomes such as positive
emotions and work satisfaction. Overall, evidence from these prior studies shows support for the idea
that procrastination leads to lower levels of PA.
The Current Study
Despite evidence indicating a bidirectional relationship between aect and procrastination, no study
has tested the direction of eects between these factors. Additionally, research has not assessed the
relationship between daily aect and daily procrastination, as opposed to trait levels of these con-
structs. Intensive longitudinal designs enable tests of direction of eects using cross-lag panel analy-
sis (Bolger & Laurenceau, 2013). We utilized an intensive longitudinal design that included daily
surveys administered weekday evenings over the course of two weeks. The purpose of this study
was to investigate the bidirectional relationship between college studentsdaily aect and the
extent to which they procrastinate each day. We hypothesized that students who reported more
NA and less PA on weekday evenings would report increases in procrastination the following day. We
also hypothesized that procrastination would lead to more NA and less PA the following day. Thus,
we expected to nd a bidirectional relationship between aect and procrastination. Results of this
study would inform counselors as to which target of change would yield the best outcomes for stu-
dents, the problematic behavior of procrastination itself or the emotions that drive this behavior.
Participants and Procedure
A random selection of 1,200 undergraduate students (ages 18 years and older) currently attending
classes at a public liberal arts college in the Eastern United States were recruited for a web-based
survey study measuring studentsemotional well-being. Of 184 students who participated in the
initial survey, 57 agreed to participate in a follow up daily diary survey measuring participants
daily mood and daily events (86.3% cisgender female, 9.8% cisgender male, 2% transgender male;
70.2% non-Hispanic White; 19.6% freshmen, 23.5% sophomores, 33.5% juniors, and 23.5% seniors).
Fifty-three of the participants who agreed to participate in the daily diary (93%) completed more
than one daily survey and were included in the cross-lag analyses. On average, there were 34
fewer participants in the daily survey each day with 24 participants completing all 10 daily
surveys. Participants needed to complete at least two daily surveys in order to assess their change
in aect and procrastination over time. Participants who reported more procrastination, on
average, completed fewer daily surveys (r=.29, p= .032). Average amount of NA (r=.11, p
= .418) and PA (r=.09, p= .497) did not correlate with the number of surveys completed.
The study protocol was approved by the Institutional Review Board at The College of New Jersey. A
random selection of 1,200 students were emailed a link to an online survey assessing psychological
constructs related to campus sexual assault, such as depression and posttraumatic stress disorder
symptoms (manuscripts in preparation, author names have been removed for blind review). The
survey rst displayed an informed consent form and participants indicated their consent by clicking
yesto continue to the survey. At the end of the survey, participants were provided with a second
informed consent form describing follow-up daily diary surveys. Participants indicated their consent
to participate in the daily diary by entering an email address at the end of the consent form. They
were encouraged to use a non-college aliated email or to use a new email account with non-iden-
tifying information in order to maintain anonymity. Participants who agreed to participate in the
follow-up daily diary were emailed a link to the survey each weekday evening (Monday-Friday) for
two weeks (10 days total). Those who consented to participate in the daily diary were sent a link
to the diary survey each weekday evening at 6:00pm. A reminder email was sent at 10:00pm, and
participants were told that they had until 2:00am to complete the survey. Responses outside of
that time frame (i.e., before 6:00pm or after 2:00am) were discarded from the dataset. The diary
survey, which took approximately 510 min to complete each evening, was sent only on weekday
evenings to allow participants to report on events that occurred over typical class days and to maxi-
mize the likelihood of participants completing the survey at a consistent time each day. Participants
in the daily diary received a $20 gift card for completing all 10 daily surveys (n= 24), a $15 gift card for
completing 89 daily surveys (n= 14), and a $10 gift card for completing 57 daily surveys (n= 11).
Survey responses were downloaded from Qualtrics and stored as deidentied data in SPSS.
Daily mood
The Positive and Negative Aect Schedule (PANAS; Watson, Clark, & Tellegen, 1988) measured par-
ticipantsaect each weekday evening over a two-week period. The PANAS includes 20-items asses-
sing dierent types of emotions on a 1 (very slightly or not at all)to5(extremely) scale. Emotions
included interested, distressed, excited, and upset. Items were summed to create scores for two sub-
scales: PA and NA. Scores for each subscale could range from 10 to 50, with higher scores indicating
higher levels of that type of aect. Using the method described by Cranford et al. (2006), the current
sample showed good within-person internal consistency, calculated as the proportion of variability
due to change in aect ratings over time (NA = .84; PA = .90) and good between-person internal con-
sistency in the daily diary context, calculated across persons and times (NA = .98; PA = .98).
Daily procrastination
Participants completed a 42-item Diary of Events Scale (Herres & Kobak, 2015) in which participants
indicated the extent to which they experienced dierent interpersonal (e.g., Had a disagreement
with a friend.) and noninterpersonal events (e.g., Did poorly on a school or work task.). Items
were rated on a 1 (Not at all true) to 4 scale (Very true). The scale also included the following
seven items adapted from Lays Procrastination Inventory (Lay, 1986): (1) In preparing for some dead-
line, I often wasted time by doing other things; (2) I did an assignment just before it should be
handed in; (3) I most often got right out of bed when it was time to get up in the morning; (4)
Even with jobs that require little else except sitting down and doing them, I found that they
seldom got done for days; (5) I generally delayed before starting on work I have to do; (6) I
found myself saying, Ill do it tomorrow;and (7) Inished a task sooner than necessary.”–
reverse coded. A multilevel CFA showed that the seventh item from the procrastination scale had
a low factor loading (b= 0.002, p= 0.98). With this item removed, t statistics showed that a one-
factor model for procrastination t the data well (Х
(7) = 8.48, p= .293; RMSEA = 0.022; SRMR
Within = 0.024; SRMR Between = 0.000; CFI = 0.997). The six remaining procrastination items were
averaged to create a procrastination scale that had good between-subject reliability (.95), as well
as good reliability of change in procrastination ratings over time (.97).
Preliminary analyses included descriptive statistics and zero-order correlations among study vari-
ables. A single multilevel model conducted in MPlus version 8 (Muthén & Muthén, 1998-2017)
tested the within-subject relationship between daily aect (both NA and PA) and next day procras-
tination (cross-lagged eect), controlling for prior levels of procrastination (autoregressive eect). The
model also included the reverse eect of procrastination on daily aect, controlling for prior levels of
NA and PA. Level one predictors were grand mean-centered and intercepts were free to vary at the
between-subject level. MPlus uses full information maximum likelihood estimation to account for
missing data and maximum likelihood estimation with robust standard errors (MLR), which is
robust to nonnormality.
First, descriptive statistics and zero-order correlations were calculated for our study variables (see
Table 1). There was signicant variance in NA, PA, and procrastination at both the within- and
between-subjects levels. According to within-subject correlations, participants reported more NA
and less PA on days in which they reported more procrastination. Daily NA and PA were negatively
Table 1. Descriptive statistics, between-subject correlations (Below Diagonal), and within-subject correlations (Above Diagonal)
among study variables.
M SD ICC 1. 2. 3.
1. Negative Aect 1.81 0.51 .37 0.22** 0.26**
2. Positive Aect 2.31 0.61 .34 0.33* 0.12*
3. Procrastination 2.41 0.46 .38 0.62** 0.06
Note. *p < .05, **p< .01. Between-subject, N= 57 participants. Within-subject, N= 432 observations.
correlated; however, according to the between-subject correlations, average levels of NA across the
diary days positively correlated with average levels of PA. Dierent PA-NA correlations at the within-
person vs. the between-person levels are consistent with prior research (Rush & Hofer, 2014; Steven-
son et al., 2019). Participants who reported higher average levels of NA across the diary days also
reported higher average levels of procrastination. Average PA was not signicantly correlated with
average levels of procrastination (see Table 1). Results of the multilevel regression examining the
direction of eects between aect and procrastination showed that NA predicted next-day procras-
tination (b= 0.12, p< .05). However, PA did not predict next day procrastination (b= .07, p= .07), and
procrastination did not predict next-day NA (b= .06, p= .25) or PA (b= .03, p= .67). The autoregres-
sive eects were all signicant, showing relative stability in daily aect and procrastination (see Figure
1). The model explained 40% of the variance in daily procrastination, 36% of the variance in daily NA,
and 35% of the variance in daily PA.
The current study tested the direction of the eects between daily aect and procrastination. More
specically, we examined whether aect preceded procrastination or vice versa in a sample of liberal
arts college students. The results supported the hypothesis that NA preceded increases in procrasti-
nation the next day. However, results did not support the eect for PA. In addition, our hypothesis
that procrastination would precede changes in daily NA and PA was not supported. Thus, ndings
indicate that the relationship between aect and procrastination is not bidirectional; procrastination
occurs more frequently following days in which students experience more NA, but it does not precede
changes in NA or PA.
Our nding that NA precedes procrastination is consistent with prior research and theory (Sirois &
Pychyl, 2013; Tice & Bratslavsky, 2000). For example, Sirois and Pychyl (2013) theorized that when
individuals are faced with a task that they view as aversive or anxiety-provoking, they experience
a failure in emotion regulation. Unable to healthily manage negative emotions, individuals give in
Figure 1. Cross-lag model of within-subject regression paths between variables measured across two consecutive time points.
Coecients are unstandardized. *p< .05, **p< .01, ***p< .001
to a desire for quick mood repair by engaging in procrastination behavior. This is consistent with prior
ndings that college students procrastinate as a result of prioritizing current and immediate
emotional needs over meeting long term goals (Tice & Bratslavsky, 2000). Tice et al. (2001) theorized
that NA interferes with motivation and drive to complete tasks. In other words, when upset, people
are less likely to prioritize activities that would help them achieve long term goals. Self-ecacy theory
(Bandura, 1986) provides another possible explanation for this eect. Per the self-ecacy theory, indi-
viduals avoid tasks when they lack condence in their abilities due to either high anxiety or weak self-
ecacy. Thus, procrastination may be an avoidance response to anxiety, weak self-ecacy, or both.
Future research should explore potential mechanisms that explain the eect of NA on procrastina-
tion, such as a lack of self-control, low energy, or poor self-ecacy. Per the theory of virtuous and
vicious circles (Wäschle et al., 2014), there may be a negative cycle of low self-ecacy and procras-
tination. Avoidance of anxiety-provoking tasks through procrastination only momentarily relieves NA,
as the task remains incomplete (Sirois & Pychyl, 2013; Tice & Bratslavsky, 2000).
While negative emotions preceded next-day procrastination, positive emotions did not. Our
second hypothesis that more PA would precede less next-day procrastination was in response to
the broaden-and-build theory, which states that positive emotions increase motivation and attention
(Fredrickson & Joiner, 2002). The non-signicant ndings suggest that positive emotions may not
have as strong of an inuence on behavior as negative experiences (Fredrickson et al., 2008),
perhaps because individuals tend to place a higher emphasis on negative experiences over positive
or neutral ones (Rozin & Royzman, 2001). In addition, college students report more negative emotions
than positive ones due to the fact that negative emotions require more attention and eort to regu-
late and result in greater physiological arousal (Rozin & Royzman, 2001). Due to the daily format of our
study design, PA may not have had as salient and lasting of an eect on procrastination as NA. These
reasons may explain why our study does not support the inuence of PA on studentsproclivity to
procrastinate the next day.
Although NA predicted increases in procrastination, the opposite direction of eects was not sup-
ported: procrastination did not precede changes in aect. Prior research showed that procrastination
was associated with depressiveness, anxiety, and fatigue, and reduced life satisfaction across the life-
span (Beutel et al., 2016). In another study, researchers found that avoidant procrastination resulted in
changes in guilt and stress rates over a 14-week time period (Kaftan & Freund, 2019). Given the dier-
ences in the time frames between these prior studies and our own, it is possible that our null ndings
for the eect of procrastination on NA may be because it takes longer than a single day for changes in
aect to occur following procrastination. Future research should examine the relationship between
aect and procrastination over varying time frames to determine whether eects observed in this
study are specic to day-to-day changes in these variables. If negative emotional consequences of
procrastination do not develop immediately, students may not attribute gradual worsening of
mood to their unproductive behavior and continue to procrastinate. Conversely, if eects of procras-
tination on aect are only immediate and eeting, students may develop a habit of procrastinating in
an attempt to prolong the relief it provides.
While we were unable to measure concurrent associations between momentary procrastination and
aect, we did nd that participants reported more NA and less PA on the same day they experienced
more procrastination (Flett et al., 2016). However, participants who reported higher levels of average
NA across the daily surveys also reported higher levels of average PA. This may be because positive
correlations among self-report measures at least partly reect a reporting bias resulting from method
invariance: participants tend to endorse similar levels across survey items (Kline, Sulsky, & Rever-Mor-
iyama, 2000). Thus, the fact that participants who endorsed extreme ratings for NA tended to endorse
extreme ratings for PA may not reect a true positive association among these constructs. Further-
more, the current study focused on day-to-day relationships among aect and procrastination and
did not allow these relationships to vary at the between-subject level. The study did not have enough
power to t a random slopes model, and the cross-lagged eects were no longer signicant when
slopes were free to vary between subjects. Thus, future research with a larger sample should
explore between-person dierences in the relationships between aect and procrastination.
Additionally, given that past research suggests that men self-report higher procrastination levels
than women (Beutel et al., 2016), future research should consider potential gender dierences in
the eects of aect on procrastination. Future research should also examine dierences across
other student characteristics, such as race/ethnicity, to determine whether ndings would generalize
to all students.
Moreover, the initial survey assessed campus sexual assault and related psychological factors
(PTSD symptoms, perceived stress, coping, and alcohol use), while the follow-up daily diary measured
studentsdaily experiences and aect. In addition to measuring procrastination, the diary of events
scale included positive and negative interpersonal, work/school, and personal well-being events. Pro-
crastination was the primary focus of the current study; however, assessing the other variables in the
initial survey and in the daily survey could have potentially inuenced procrastination or aect scores.
Further, given the observational nature of the study, it is important to identify potential third vari-
ables that may explain or enhance the relationship between NA and next-day procrastination. For
example, rumination and mindfulness have also been linked to procrastination (Evans et al., 2009).
Perhaps these variables could serve as targets of intervention for students hoping to increase their
productivity and improve their overall emotional well-being. In addition to the need to consider
other variables that contribute to ones daily aect and procrastination, it would be benecial for
future research to examine specic negative emotions that have the strongest impact on procrasti-
nation behavior, such as shame, guilt, fear, or sadness. With this information, counselors could target
specic emotions that are likely to interfere most with studentsproductivity.
Current interventions for procrastination emphasize the development of behavioral skills such as self-
monitoring and self-reward, self-control techniques, and stress and time-management (Haycock,
McCarthy, & Skay, 1998). However, the current ndings suggest a need for interventions that focus
on emotion regulation strategies that help to reduce NA. Teaching students that procrastination
may occur in response to distress places an emphasis on aect regulation over other behavioral
changes that may not get to the heart of the problem, such as learning good study habits. Fostering
acceptance and tolerance of negative emotions among college students could help students better
regulate NA (Berking et al., 2012), and, in turn, improve their productivity. Acceptance-based thera-
peutic interventions such as Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (Hayes, Strosahl, & Wilson, 1999),
Aect Regulation Training (ART; Berking, Meier, & Wupperman, 2010), Emotion Focused Therapy (EFT;
Greenberg, 2002), and mindfulness-based treatments (e.g., Hofmann, Sawyer, Witt, & Oh, 2010) facili-
tate a positive, non-judgmental attitude toward aversive emotional experiences, while increasing tol-
erance for negative aective states (Berking et al., 2012). Acceptance strategies could help improve
studentsproductivity by shifting their frame of mind away from their distress, while energizing and
motivating them to focus on meeting long term goals (Boland, Riggs, & Anderson, 2018). While cog-
nitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is eective at reducing procrastination (Van Eerde & Klingsieck, 2018),
acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) may be better than CBT at reducing procrastination and
negative aect in the long term (Wang et al., 2017).
Sirois and Pychyl (2013) explained that in order to be more productive, one must nd something
positive or worthwhile about a task, even if that task also provokes anxiety. Finding deeper personal
meaning in academic work may help reduce associated NA and decrease the desire for students to
seek short-term relief through procrastination. Thus, future research should examine whether chan-
ging cognitive thought processes (Rozental, Forsell, Svensson, Andersson, & Carlbring, 2015), accept-
ing negative emotions, and being more mindful when it comes to school work would improve
studentsmood and decrease the amount in which they procrastinate. The current study emphasizes
the powerful role emotions play in the everyday lives of college students. Though further research is
needed on the relationship between aect and procrastination, ndings suggest that adaptive
coping and emotion regulation strategies could help increase studentsproductivity so that they
may make progress toward achieving long-term goals.
Disclosure statement
No potential conict of interest was reported by the author(s).
Joanna Herres
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... One prominent explanation conceptualizes procrastination as a dysfunctional form of mood regulation with the purpose to escape negative emotions associated with the intended activity by pursuing an alternative activity instead of the intended activity (e.g., Sirois & Pychyl, 2013). Indeed, procrastination episodes are preceded by lower positive affect (Sirois & Giguère, 2018), higher negative affect (Pollack & Herres, 2020), or a failure to modify negative affect (e.g., Eckert et al., 2016). However, empirical evidence also shows that the attempt to regulate negative emotions by procrastinating is ineffective, as indicated by unchanged or even higher negative affect during procrastination episodes (e.g., Gadosey et al., 2021;Gort et al., 2021). ...
... Because procrastination episodes are often preceded by negative task-related affect (Pollack & Herres, 2020;Sirois & Pychyl, 2013), consideration of negative affect is important. When a group member's relative ability was low, negative affect was higher in conjunctive group work as compared to individual work; and when a group member's relative ability was high, negative affect was higher in additive group work as compared to individual work. ...
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Group work can increase individual effort, performance, and positive affect, if group members perceive their own contribution as indispensable for the group product. A vignette methodology was applied to investigate whether group work may also reduce procrastination. The vignettes described a typical academic assignment, while varying the task structure (individual work vs. conjunctive group work vs. additive group work) and group member ability (high vs. low). For each vignette, student participants (N = 443) provided ratings on their perceived indispensability, procrastination of the assignment, and affect. When group member ability was high, procrastination was lower in additive group work as compared to individual work. When group member ability was low, procrastination was lower in conjunctive group work as compared to both individual work and additive group work. As predicted, perceived indispensability mediated the difference in procrastination between conjunctive and additive group work. Moderation analyses further revealed that the effects were more pronounced for high trait procrastinators. Further, both types of group work led to increases in task-related positive affect as compared to individual work. By demonstrating the relevance of group work as a social factor, the results should be useful for the extension of existing programs targeting procrastination, and may inspire measures for preventing procrastination by changes in the study environment.
... At the same time, they frequently report experiencing feelings of guilt , worry, and shame (Fee & Tangney, 2000;Wohl et al., 2010) during and after a procrastination episode. This subjective discomfort also leads to increased negative affect over time (Sirois & Giguère, 2018), further maladaptive dynamics, and even enhances future procrastination (Pollack & Herres, 2020;Wäschle et al., 2014). ...
... So far, time-based analyses have found mixed results concerning subjective discomfort, with neither positive nor negative effects during a procrastination episode , higher levels of anxiety, and lower levels of hope during a procrastination episode (Gadosey et al., 2021), an increased task aversiveness in the moment of intended action increasing the likelihood to procrastinate (Wieland et al., 2021), or increased thoughts about life deprivation and a lower frustration tolerance for habitual procrastinator during a delay (McCown et al., 2012). For a 2-day period, low positive affect was found to increase the likelihood of actual procrastination (Sirois & Giguère, 2018) and prior day negative emotions to enhance next day procrastination (Pollack & Herres, 2020). However, the retrospective approach used with regard to the BEPS, although not free of problems in itself, might be potentially less influenced by the positive effect induced by the alternative task during a procrastination episode. ...
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Procrastination is the irrational delay of an intended task and is common among students. A delay can only be defined as procrastination when it is voluntary, the action was intended but not implemented, and the delay is accompanied by subjective discomfort. Established scales of procrastination cover mainly behavioral aspects but have neglected the emotional aspect. This inaccuracy concerning the construct validity might entail misconceptions of procrastination. Accordingly, we developed and validated the Behavioral and Emotional Academic Procrastination Scale (BEPS), which covers all aspects of the definition of procrastination. The 6-item scale measuring self-reported academic procrastination was tested in three studies. Study 1 ( N = 239) evaluated the psychometric qualities of the BEPS, indicating good item characteristics and internal consistency. Study 2 ( N = 1,441) used confirmatory factor analysis and revealed two correlated factors: one covering the behavioral aspect and the other reflecting the emotional aspect. Measurement invariance was shown through longitudinal and multigroup confirmatory factor analyses. Study 3 ( N = 234) provided evidence for the scale’s convergent validity through correlations with established procrastination scales, self-efficacy, and neuroticism. The BEPS thus economically operationalizes all characteristics of academic procrastination and appears to be a reliable and valid self-report measure.
... In recent years, an increasing number of researchers have used dynamic structural equation modeling (DSEM; Asparouhov et al., 2018;Hamaker et al., 2018) to decompose the between-person and within-person variabilities and thus better understand the dynamic processes within individuals (Hamaker & Wichers, 2017). Researchers noted that both mindfulness (Blanke & Brose, 2017) and procrastination (Bäulke et al., 2021) had state components that changed over time, and some studies have used daily diaries (Isham et al., 2022;Pollack & Herres, 2020) or experience sampling methods (Blanke & Brose, 2017;Gadosey et al., 2021) to investigate individuals' mindfulness and procrastination in everyday contexts. However, there is still a lack of research using dynamic structural equation models to explore how the relation between mindfulness and procrastination unfolds over time within individuals. ...
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Objectives Procrastination is a common behavior in our daily life that can lead to detrimental consequences, and previous studies have shown that female college students are more vulnerable to procrastination. Mindfulness-based interventions have been used to reduce procrastination; however, little is known about how mindfulness and procrastination interplay in everyday contexts. Therefore, the main purpose of this study was to explore the dynamic and bidirectional relation between mindfulness and procrastination from a multidimensional perspective. Methods A total of 252 female college students participated in a 34-day diary study, during which they completed daily measures of procrastination and three dimensions of state mindfulness (i.e., acting with awareness, nonjudgmental acceptance, and present-moment attention). Dynamic structural equation modeling was used to analyze the data. Results We found a bidirectional association of daily procrastination with one dimension of state mindfulness (i.e., acting with awareness), but not with the other two dimensions (i.e., nonjudgmental acceptance, and present-moment attention). Specifically, higher levels of acting with awareness predicted individuals’ lower levels of procrastination the next day (β = -0.042, 95% CI [-0.070, -0.019]), which enhanced their subsequent levels of acting with awareness (β = -0.087, 95% CI [-0.113, -0.058]). This indicated a self-perpetuating virtuous cycle between acting with awareness and daily procrastination. Conclusions Our findings provided valuable insights into mindfulness-based preventions and interventions. This study not only supported the role of mindfulness in reducing procrastination, but more importantly, highlighted the importance of targeting particular dimensions of mindfulness, rather than considering it as a whole, to enhance the effectiveness of mindfulness practices.
... For example, students' emotional reactions to failure may play a role. Students have been shown to report higher levels of procrastination following days in which they experienced higher levels of negative affect (Pollack & Herres, 2020). In addition, students who have a general tendency to procrastinate, such as less conscientious students (Steel, 2007), may be more likely to report increased procrastination following failure. ...
... One strategy to escape negative feelings associated with an aversive task is to avoid the task and instead engage in other activities that would be more pleasant. Consistent with this perspective, relation between academic procrastination and inability to regulate negative affects has been observed (e.g., Pollack & Herres, 2020;Rebetez et al., 2015). ...
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Procrastination could be conceptualized as a self-regulation failure. However, it is still not clear what type of self-regulation processes are precisely underlying the students’ tendency to procrastinate. The main objective of our study was therefore to predict variations in academic procrastination by considering two constructs related to self-regulation: motivational factors (i.e., achievement goals), and learning strategies: deep learning cognitive strategies -Elaboration and Critical thinking-, effort regulation management. The results of an online study on 249 first-year humanities and social sciences French students showed that 30% of the variance in procrastination was predicted positively by avoidance goals and negatively by effort regulation management. The effort regulation management strategy alone contributed to 24% of the variance in procrastination. Furthermore, the results confirmed the negative relationship between academic performance and procrastination tendency. Added together, these results support the conceptualization of procrastination as a self-regulation failure and specially of learning such as effort regulation management. Results are discussed in relation to possible interventions that aim to reduce procrastination in order to promote academic success and students’ well-being.
... Clearly, interventions may also apply other strategies to supplement FA. As an important mechanism involved in procrastination seems to be related to dysfunctional emotional regulation, especially of negative emotions (e.g., Tice and Baumeister, 1997;Tice and Bratslavsky, 2000;Pychyl, 2013, 2016;Pollack and Herres, 2020), interventions that focus on emotion regulation skills are indicated. Indeed, using the Adaptive Coping with Emotions Model (ACE Model; Berking and Whitley, 2014), Schuenemann et al. (2022) demonstrated that an intervention to train emotion regulation skills can reduce procrastination. ...
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Academic procrastination – habitually delaying work with academic tasks to the extent that the delays become detrimental to performance, wellbeing, and health – represents a substantial personal, systemic, and societal problem. Still, efforts to prevent and reduce it are surprisingly scarce and often offered as treatment regimens rather than preventive efforts. Based on the principles of functional analysis and a broad examination of factors that are important for academic procrastinatory behaviors, this paper aims to describe a strategy for analyzing individual controlling conditions for procrastination and give parallel advice on how to change those controlling conditions. Both are ideographic, allowing for individual and dynamic analyses of factors responsible for instigating and maintaining procrastination, as well as tailor-made remedies that address controlling conditions in preventive and curative efforts to reduce procrastination. Although functional analysis integrates well with important research findings in the procrastination field, this approach suggests new criteria for identifying procrastinatory behaviors and an alternative model for analyzing their control conditions. We conclude that a functional approach may supplement procrastination research and efforts to prevent and alleviate this detrimental habit.
... ( ‫اإلاسخلت‬ Sirois andPychyl, 2013, 2016;Eckert et al., 2016 ‫طىء‬ ‫عً‬ ‫الىاججت‬ ) ( ‫الاهفعاٌ‬ ‫جىـُم‬ Sirois and Pychyl,2013 ‫أن‬ ‫على‬ ‫الظىء‬ ‫حظلُؽ‬ ‫جم‬ ‫ذلً،‬ ‫على‬ ‫عالوة‬ .) ( ‫للدظىٍف‬ ‫السئِظُت‬ ‫الظىابم‬ ‫جمثل‬ ‫البغُظت‬ ‫الاهفعاالث‬ Steel, 2007;Eckert et al., 2016;Pollack and Herres, 2020 ...
... Students with good adversity have a positive perception as they regard difficulties as opportunities (Stoltz, 2006). On the other hand, negative perception in handling tasks will cause students to be inclined toward delaying task completion (Pollack and Herres, 2020). Therefore, the adversity quotient reduces the tendency to put off starting or completing a task. ...
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The COVID-19 has had a widespread impact on all aspects of life. The government has undertaken numerous restrictive attempts to sever the virus transmission chain. In the education sector, one of the attempts is to apply certain learning models. For instance, the online model has been used in place of the face-to-face one across all academic and non-academic services. Educators have faced several obstacles, including academic procrastination. Academic procrastination refers to intentionally putting off working on an assignment, which negatively influences academic achievement. This study aimed to examine the role of parental social support in academic procrastination with the mediation of the adversity quotient. The subjects consisted of 256 state Madrasah Aliyah students in Magelang aged 15–18 years ( M = 16.53, SD = 1.009). Data collection employed the academic procrastination scale, parental social support scale, and adversity quotient scale. Data analysis used descriptive statistics and structural equation modeling (SEM) with the aid of the IBM SPSS 23 and AMOS Graphics 26. The research results showed that all variables fell into the medium category. Parental social support had a negative role on academic procrastination and a positive one on adversity quotient. Meanwhile, the adversity quotient had a negative role in academic procrastination and a significant role as a mediator in the relationship between parental social support and academic procrastination. Therefore, parental social support is required to increase students’ adversity quotient in suppressing academic procrastination. Special attention from parents to students is thus critical during the COVID-19 pandemic, with the mediation of adversity quotient.
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Background: Emotion regulation involves the modulation of emotional experiences to facilitate goal attainment. Conversely, emotional difficulties are a pattern of emotional experiences and expressions that interfere with goal-directed behavior. Objectives: Our aim was to determine the relationship between emotional regulation difficulties with procrastination, life satisfaction, and resilience to distress. Methods: The sample consisted of 366 individuals from the general population, with a mean age of 33 years (SD=15) and 62.1% female. Results: Procrastination was positively related to the six emotional distress regulation strategies and negative affect (NA), and negatively related to positive affect (PA). Life satisfaction and distress endurance are negatively related to the identified regulation strategies and NA, and positively related to PA. Procrastination, once NA and PA are controlled is predicted by lack of clarity and lack of goals. Satisfaction with life and resistance to distress are predicted by less lack of strategies. Conclusions: It is concluded that of the sociodemographic variables only age is relevant to procrastination, given that people younger than 21 years score higher on this construct. Procrastination is positively related to the six dimensions of difficulties in emotion regulation, where it is predicted by lack of goals and lack of clarity, however, satisfaction with life and resistance to discomfort by less lack of strategies.
Procrastination is regarded as a prevalent problematic behavior that impairs people’s physical and mental health. Although previous studies have indicated that trait rumination is robustly positively correlated with procrastination, it remains unknown about the neural substrates underlying the relationship between trait rumination and procrastination. To address this issue, we used voxel-based morphometry (VBM) and resting-state functional connectivity (RSFC) approaches to explore the neural basis of the relationship between trait rumination and procrastination. Our behavior results found that trait rumination was significantly positively correlated to procrastination, while the VBM analysis showed that trait rumination was negatively correlated with gray matter volume of the insula. Furthermore, the RSFC results revealed a negative association of the left insula-lmSFG (left medial superior frontal gyrus) functional connectivity with trait rumination. More importantly, the mediation analysis showed that trait rumination could completely mediate the relationship between left insula-lmSFG functional connectivity and procrastination. These results suggest that the left insula-lmSFG functional connectivity involved in emotion regulation modulates the association between trait rumination and procrastination, which provides neural evidence for the relationship between trait rumination and procrastination.
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Between-subjects literature has established that trait-like negative mood predicts coping motives, which predict alcohol-related problems and that trait-like positive mood predicts mood enhancement motives, which then predict alcohol consumption. However, there is considerable within-person variation in drinking motives, and the relationship between mood, motives, and alcohol outcomes must be more closely examined at a daily level. The current study used ecological momentary assessment (EMA) to measure mood, motives, alcohol use, and alcohol consequences in 101 college drinkers over a 15-day period. At the between-subjects level, positive mood predicted enhancement motives, which in turn predicted alcohol consumption and consequences. Negative mood predicted coping motives, which were associated with only alcohol-related consequences. At the within-subjects level, daily anxious and depressed mood were associated with endorsing coping motives, but coping motives were not associated with alcohol consumption or problems. Positive mood was associated with enhancement motives, which was associated with both daily alcohol consumption and problems. These results corroborate previous findings that enhancement motives are most predictive of outcomes in the college population and highlight the importance of considering within-subject variance in drinking motives. The relationships between mood, motives, and alcohol outcomes differ when examined as between-subjects versus within-subject constructs. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved).
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This 14-week longitudinal study with weekly real-time reports investigated if goal focus (i.e., a focus on the process vs. the outcome of goal pursuit) is associated with students’ ( N = 105) perceptions of the activities in which they were engaged while procrastinating ( alternative activities ). We compared perceptions of the alternative activities with the focal activity (here: working on a bachelor’s thesis) as well as with a baseline perception of the alternative activity. More specifically, we considered the perceptions of the alternative activities regarding their importance, pleasantness, guilt, stressfulness, delay of gratification, and the motivation to engage in them. Multilevel analyses differentiating between relationships at the within- and between-person level showed that process and outcome focus exert distinct influences on the perceptions of activities and that outcome focus is a stronger predictor than process focus . Outcome focus was positively related to importance and stress, and negatively to pleasantness, guilt, and motivation. In contrast, process focus was positively associated with pleasantness and motivation, and negatively with guilt. While students perceived alternative activities as rewarding at a later point in time when they focused more on the outcome, they perceived these activities as more immediately gratifying when they focused more on the process.
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The present study, based on broaden–and–build theory, examines the relationship between study–related positive emotions and academic performance, and the mediating role of psychological capital in this relationship. A sample of 639 Chilean high school students between 14 and 17 years old was used. Through structural equation modelling (SEM), –as hypothesized– a statistically significant indirect effect was found between study–related positive emotions and academic performance via psychological capital. Students’ study– related positive emotions were related to better academic performance through positive relationships with their levels of psychological capital (i.e., efficacy, hope, optimism, and resilience). Theoretical and practical implications of the results are discussed, limitations are mentioned, and future research directions are proposed.
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Previous research has provided strong evidence for affective commitment as a direct predictor of employees' psychological well-being and as a resource that buffers the adverse effects of self-control demands as a stressor. However, the mechanisms that underlie the beneficial effects of affective commitment have not been examined yet. Drawing on the self-determination theory, we propose day-specific flow experiences as the mechanism that underlies the beneficial effects of affective commitment, because flow experiences as peaks of intrinsic motivation constitute manifestations of autonomous regulation. In a diary study covering 10 working days with N = 90 employees, we examine day-specific flow experiences as a mediator of the beneficial effects of interindividual affective commitment and a buffering moderator of the adverse day-specific effects of self-control demands on indicators of well-being (ego depletion, need for recovery, work engagement, and subjective vitality). Our results provide strong support for our predictions that day-specific flow experiences a) mediate the beneficial effects of affective commitment on employees' day-specific well-being and b) moderate (buffer) the adverse day-specific effects of self-control demands on well-being. That is, on days with high levels of flow experiences, employees were better able to cope with self-control demands whereas self-control demands translated into impaired well-being when employees experienced lower levels of day-specific flow experiences. We then discuss our findings and suggest practical implications. (PsycINFO Database Record
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Character strengths are hypothesized to contribute to human thriving. However, the effects of their use on individuals’ behaviors and attitudes at work, an important domain of modern life, have rarely been studied. In the present study, we examined associations of employees’ use of character strengths at work with productivity, organizational citizenship behavior (OCB), and job satisfaction. Based on the broaden-and-build theory of positive emotions, we suggested a multiple mediation model demonstrating how these associations are mediated by positive affect and engagement. Participants (N = 1,095) completed measures of strengths use, work productivity, OCB, job satisfaction, positive affect, and work engagement. As hypothesized, using strengths at work was associated with productivity, OCB, and job satisfaction, and these associations were mediated by higher positive emotions and engagement. The findings highlight the potential benefits of encouraging employees to use their strengths and point to positive affect and work engagement as mediating these effects.
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Extensive research indicates that procrastination is associated with many maladaptive outcomes including diminished performance and greater psychological distress, but the specific factors and mechanisms associated with the vulnerability of procrastinators still need to be identified. The current study examined the associations among procrastination, ruminative brooding, mindfulness, and self-compassion. Procrastination was measured in terms of academic procrastination as well as a cognitive measure of procrastination examining the frequency of procrastination-related automatic thoughts. In addition to the main focus on the vulnerability of procrastinators, the question of whether students with multiple vulnerabilities would be particularly at risk for depression was also assessed. A sample of 214 undergraduate students completed measures of academic procrastination, procrastination-related automatic thoughts, rumination, mindfulness, self-compassion, and depression. Correlational analyses showed that both procrastination measures were associated with ruminative brooding as well as reduced mindfulness and self-compassion. Moderator-effect tests yielded no significant interactions. Overall, our findings highlight the relevance of cognitive factors in explaining procrastination and depression. Elevated levels on measures tapping cognitive risk factors (ruminative brooding and procrastination-related automatic thoughts) or a low level of protective, self-relevant cognitive factors associated with resilience (mindfulness and self-compassion) were related to a high level of procrastination and depression. These results imply that procrastinators might be vulnerable to depression due to the joint presence of these cognitive risk and resilience factors.
We proposed and tested a novel multilevel perspective on procrastination by examining the prospective relation between procrastination and grades across students (i.e., between-person level) and across the courses taken by each student (i.e., within-person level). A sample of 208 university students completed repeated measures of procrastination for each of their courses during the semester and the official final grades were obtained at the end of the semester. The results of multilevel modeling revealed that students who procrastinated more than other students received lower grades than these students (i.e., between-person level). Moreover, the results revealed that in the courses in which students procrastinated more than their own average, they received lower grades than their own average (i.e., within-person level). These findings build upon past findings on procrastination across students while also moving this research field forward by offering a new understanding of procrastination as a within-person risk factor for academic difficulties.
We present a meta-analysis of 24 studies on procrastination interventions (total k = 44, N = 1173) in order to find out 1) whether people can reduce their level of procrastination, and 2) if so, which type of intervention leads to the strongest reduction. We compared four different types of interventions: Self-regulation, cognitive behavioral therapy, other therapeutic approaches, and interventions focusing on individuals’ strengths and resources. A large reduction in procrastination after the interventions was found, and the effects remained stable in follow-up assessments. The findings so far suggest that cognitive behavioral therapy reduced procrastination more strongly than the other types of interventions. Other moderator variables, such as the duration of the intervention, had no significant effects. We propose future research that may help to build stronger evidence for the effects of interventions, as well as some guidelines for interventions.
Emotion-regulation perspectives on procrastination highlighting the primacy of short-term mood-regulation focus mainly on negative affect. Positive affect, however, has received much less attention, and has not been considered with respect to social temptations. To address this issue we examined how trait procrastination was linked to positive and negative affect in the context of social temptations across two prospective studies. Action Control Theory, Personality Systems Interactions Theory, and a mood-regulation theory of procrastination served as guiding conceptual frameworks. In Study 1, moderated mediation analyses revealed that low positive affect explained the link between trait procrastination and time spent procrastinating on academic tasks over a 48-hour period in a student sample (N = 142), and this effect was moderated by the presence of social temptations. Parallel results for goal enjoyment assessed at Time 2 were found in Study 2 with a community sample (N = 94) attempting to make intended health behaviour changes over a six-month period. Our findings indicate that procrastinators are at risk for disengaging from intended tasks when social temptations are present and positive task-related affect is low.
Previous research suggests depressed individuals have difficulties with future directed cognitions. For instance, compared with non-depressed individuals, they predict positive events are less likely to occur. Recent work suggests that episodic simulation of positive futures may represent a useful strategy for improving prospective predictions. The current studies investigated positive future episodic simulation as a method of modifying predictions regarding the likelihood of occurrence, perceived control, and importance of positive and negative future events. Experiment 1 compared positive episodic simulation to a neutral visualization task in a non-clinical sample. Predictions regarding future events were rated more positively after the use of positive episodic simulation but not as a result of neutral visualization. Experiment 2 extended these findings to show that future episodic simulation can be used to modify predictions, for both positive and negative events, in individuals experiencing significant levels of dysphoric mood and depressive symptoms. Taken together, these findings suggest that training in positive episodic future simulation can improve future outlook and may represent a useful tool within cognitive therapeutic techniques.