Sociology of procrastination

I want to write about the sociology of procrastination… perhaps tomorrow.

Joke aside, here are a few useful resources for those procrastinators among our readers who would like to acquire some robust theoretical and empirical knowledge about this fascinating phenomenon. Social psychology tends to see procrastination as ‘self-handicapping’, e.g.:

Lay, C. H., Knish, S., & Zanatta, R. Self-handicappers and procrastinators: A comparison of their practice behavior prior to an evaluation. Journal of research in personality. 1992. 26, 242-257.

Ferrari, J. R. Self handicapping by procrastinators: Protecting self-esteem, social esteem, or both? Journal of Research in Personality. 1991. 25, 245-261.

It is also typically linked with neuroticism and personality traits:

Haycock, L. A., McCarty, P. & Skay, C. L. (1998). Procrastination in college students: The role of self-efficacy and anxiety. Journal of Counseling Development, 76, 317-324.
Hess, B., Sherman, M. F., & Goodman, M. (2000). Eveningness predicts academic procrastination: The mediating role of neuroticism. Journal of Social Behavior & Personality, 15(5), 61-74.
Johnson, J. L. & Bloom, A. M. An analysis of the contribution of the five factors of personality to variance in academic procrastination. Personality and Individual Differences. 1995. 18 (1), 127-133.

Bulge Uzun Özer’s short paper A Cross Sectional Study on Procrastination: Who Procrastinate More? (from which we took many useful references for this post) provides some interesting recent descriptive statistics on academic procrastination. It presents the results from a quantitative study of 447 students (247 female, 200 male) enrolled in public high schools and universities in Turkey’s capital Ankara.

The Psychology Today website offers ten useful psychological and psychosocial tips.

This website devoted to time management strategies offers a brief but good anti-procrastination guide and answers some questions about procrastination. It also gives some interesting statistics (not all referenced, alas).

This 2004 paper by Anthony J. Onwuegbuzie from the Department of Educational Measurement and Research, College of Education, University of South Florida provides some fascinating data on one particular type of procrastination: the one caused by statistics anxiety! (click on link to get the PDF)

Four years ago,  Nathan Yau, who at the time was a UCLA PhD candidate in statistics with a focus in data visualization, started a self-experiment to stop procrastinating. He tried various techniques about which you can read here…sadly, he never published any more reports. The experiment was either successful – Nathan got on with his PhD research – or not…

But my favourite of all these sources is a very short essay called ‘Structured procrastination’ by writer John Perry. As often happens, without being a sociologist, Perry analyses the problem in a compelling, logical, and readable way, while also providing a humorous but viable solution. Perry’s approach (sometimes) works for me. Try it – today!

Categories: Higher Education

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2 replies »

  1. I just read this in the midst of avoiding the 8000 words I’m attempting to write by Christmas eve. Meta procrastination!

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