Evidence for decreasing academic procrastination through the incentives and consequences of competition

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University of New Brunswick


Academic procrastination involves the delay of a task with the knowledge that such delay could result in future consequences, which could include lower grades and accumulated stress. In the present study, participants heard directives that induced different levels of competition in an attempt to decrease state procrastination. Participants also completed questionnaires to assess their personality characteristics, executive functioning (i.e., working memory, planning), and academic procrastination to determine the relationships between state and trait procrastination, personality traits, and executive function. Results revealed that Conscientiousness, Neuroticism, and all executive function subscales were statistically significant predictors of trait procrastination, but failed to predict state procrastination. Findings related to the manipulation provided evidence that, relative to individuals in a control condition, participants who were in experimental conditions in which perceived competition was increased, had lower state procrastination. Lastly, the implications on future research and the divergence between state and trait procrastination are discussed.