PROCRASTINATION: AN INQUIRY INTO ITS ETIOLOGY AND PHENOMENOLOGY

SARA CAPEN WEDEMAN, University of Pennsylvania

Abstract

Procrastination, the tendency to delay or avoid a task one intends to complete, is a perplexing problem. Since it was first identified, a wide variety of explanatory hypotheses have been presented, ranging from sinfulness ("sloth") to existential dread. This study represents an effort to validate some of the major explanations that have been proposed in the literature and which I have developed in the course of my clinical work with procrastinators. It also explores the inner experience of the procrastinator in order to develop a clinical picture, a phenomenology of procrastination. The study took place in two phases. The first phase consisted of an empirical analysis, where 226 college students were given selected scales of several personality measures and a question pertaining to their schedules. This was done in order to measure the variables perfectionism, autonomy issues, frustration tolerance, fear of success, fear of failure, lack of planfulness, reality interference, and procrastination level, respectively. These data were then subjected to a stepwise multiple regression analysis, with self-identified procrastination level as the dependent variable. This analysis indicated that, of the seven predictor variables, four can be demonstrated to have empirical validity. Frustration tolerance was found to be strongly and negatively related to procrastination. Lack of planfulness was found to be moderately and negatively related to procrastination, as was perfectionism. Fear of success was moderately and positively related to procrastination among male subjects. Clinical interviews shed some light on these findings. Consistent with the survey findings, low frustration tolerance was found to be strongly linked with procrastination. Among procrastinators, there was some evidence of grandiose, perfectionistic expectations coupled with sloppy behavior. Procrastinators tended to plan excessively, seemingly in place of doing. There was evidence of fear of success in both male and female procrastinators. Interviews also suggested that variables not found to be statistically significant should not be hastily abandoned. Rather, it may be useful to refine our definitions of these variables if we are to accurately measure their role in producing procrastination.

Subject Area

Personality

Recommended Citation

WEDEMAN, SARA CAPEN, "PROCRASTINATION: AN INQUIRY INTO ITS ETIOLOGY AND PHENOMENOLOGY" (1985). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI8515465.
https://repository.upenn.edu/dissertations/AAI8515465

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