Creative Education
2013. Vol.4, No.7A2, 144-149
Published Online July 2013 in SciRes (
Copyright © 2013 SciRes.
Procrastination as a Tool: Exploring Unconventional
Components of Academic Success
Damion V. Demeter, Shawn E. Davis
School of Professional Psychology, Pacific University, Hillsboro, USA
Received March 12th, 2013; revised April 13th, 2013; accepted April 20th, 2013
Copyright © 2013 Damion V. Demeter, Shawn E. Davis. This is an open access article distributed under the
Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any
medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Academic procrastination has often been attributed to a fear or avoidance response and elicits negative
connotations with both educators and students. Such negative attitudes toward the act of procrastination
may result in increased stress for students who procrastinate. However, is this always an appropriate as-
sumption or is procrastination sometimes used as a tool when completing familiar tasks in an advanced
educational setting? The current study examines procrastination behaviors of 123 graduate level students
currently enrolled across 11 US universities within 20 fields of study. Data collected via self-report ques-
tionnaire showed significant relationships between increased academic procrastination and high grade
outcomes, when both high levels of familiarity with the testing medium and low levels of fear were pre-
sent. These data suggest that for settings where the testing medium no longer elicits an acceptable level of
fear required for optimal performance, as per the Yerkes-Dodson Law of Arousal, some students may use
procrastination to increase arousal. With greater understanding and acceptance of this possibility, students
may avoid additional stress associated with non-acceptance of procrastination, which might result in
stress levels that are too high and lead to task failure. Additionally, educators who identify this trait in
their students may help by creating strategies to aid in this style of task completion.
Keywords: Academic Procrastination; PASS; Graduate Education; Yerkes-Dodson
The struggle to avoid procrastination is likely one felt by all
students during their academic career. While procrastination
may be transitory for many, approximately 70% of students
consistently struggle with academic procrastination (Ellis &
Knaus, 1977) and to some degree the behavior remains univer-
sally present (Day, Mensink, & O’Sullivan, 2000). Persistent
procrastination behavior in an academic setting has often been
attributed to a deep-rooted fear response (Burka & Yuen, 2008),
a result of perfection seeking (Flett, Blankstein, Hewitt, &
Koledin, 1992), as well as avoidance of an unpleasant task
(Solomon & Rothblum, 1984). Further, researchers have re-
cently identified personality traits (Steel, 2007) and biological
factors (Burka & Yuen, 2008) that can influence and perpetuate
this common, and potentially self-defeating, academic behavior.
However, is such a global negative interpretation on procrasti-
nation behavior oversimplifying a behavior whose impact may
vary by population and environment, resulting in a stunted un-
derstanding and ability to appropriately mitigate the negative
impact? Within the present study, we have provided an alterna-
tive interpretation of the causal factors involved in academic
procrastination, specifically regarding a graduate level popula-
tion. We speculate that previous educational experience re-
quired for graduate level program admission may result in de-
creased inherent stress associated with testing mediums. As a
result, a percentage of student procrastination may be utilitarian,
facilitating optimal performance by increasing arousal levels, as
outlined in the Yerkes-Dodson Law of arousal and performance
(Yerkes & Dodson, 1908), rather than existing as a strictly
negative behavior.
Traditional Views of Procrastination Causation
A widely accepted attribution of academic procrastination
behavior has been focused on antecedents that hold negative
connotations. Solomon and Rothblum (1984), creators of the
Procrastination Assessment Scale-Students (PASS), identified
two distinct groups based on factors accounting for the highest
significant levels of variance within their study. These groups
were labeled “fear of failure” and “aversiveness of task”
(Solomon & Rothblum, 1984: p. 508). This, in turn, resulted in
the use of these two labels for procrastination in future studies
utilizing the PASS to measure procrastination habits. Fear as a
cause of procrastination has later been expanded in an explora-
tion of deep-rooted emotional influences resulting from early
childhood experiences. Burka and Yuen (2008) hypothesized
that early experiences result in the avoidance of uncomfortable
feelings that manifest in the academic setting. The authors state
that procrastination, in certain contexts, allows the individual to
avoid acknowledging their fears, be they a fear of failure, a fear
of success, fear of separation, etc. Additionally, Burka and
Yuen (2008) explored the neuroscience involved in procrastina-
tion, suggesting a hard-wired learned fear response resulting in
avoidance, regardless of the actual level of stress imposed by
the academic task, points to fear as the basis of all procrastina-
Flett et al. (1992) broadened our understanding of procrasti-
nation causal factors one step further, expanding it to include
perfectionism. The authors’ of the study assessed 131 college
students that self-identified as procrastinators. The PASS and
the Lay Procrastination Scale were utilized to explore procras-
tination levels. Further, the Multidimensional Perfectionism
Scale (MPS) and Burns Perfectionism Scale were included in
order to better understand the influence of perfectionism on
academic procrastination habits. Flett et al. (1992) observed
that while socially prescribed perfectionism was most directly
correlated with procrastination, fear of failure was associated
with perfectionism. This outcome suggests that while fear of
failure is an antecedent of academic procrastination, the behav-
ior is more multidimensional and complex than the direct in-
fluence suggested by Solomon and Rothblum (1984).
The influence of perfectionism on procrastination was ex-
plored further, focusing solely on a graduate population, by
Onwuegbuzie (2000). Onwuegbuzie observed that self-oriented
perfectionism and socially prescribed perfectionism were re-
lated to procrastination, echoing Flett, et al’s (1992) findings,
with socially prescribed perfectionism holding a greater influ-
ence on procrastination than self-oriented perfectionism. Be it
fear of failure, task aversion, or perfectionism, the bulk of
commonly accepted attributions of procrastination lie in do-
mains that hold generally negative connotations.
The Yerkes-Dodson Law of Ar o u sa l and
While exploring the relationship between external stimuli
and rate of learning in mice, Yerkes and Dodson (1908) ob-
served that as stimulus strength increased, the number of errors
declined until a peak was reached and errors began to increase.
Hebb’s (1955) study on motivation further refined the idea of
an optimal level of response and learning, resulting in the in-
verted-u scale commonly attributed solely to Yerkes and Dod-
son, stating “there will be an optimal level of arousal for effec-
tive behavior” (p. 246). Levels of stimuli that lie before or be-
yond the optimal level range will be considered mundane or
overwhelming, respectively, thus hindering performance.
The inverted-u relationship, as well as the notion of over-
stimulation resulting in diminished performance not only holds
true with practiced learning, but has been found to directly
effect memory as well. Deffenbacher, Bornstein, Penrod, and
Gorty (2004) observed this relationship while studying the ac-
curacy of eyewitness memory in high stress situations. Their
meta-analysis of 27 individual examinations revealed that
heightened stress negatively impacted the accuracy of eyewit-
ness identification as well as crime-related details. Further,
Deffenbacher, et al. (2004) observed age and individual inter-
pretation of severity of witnessed crime to be influential to the
accuracy of recall, reinforcing the necessity of individually
varying optimal stress levels for accurate memory retention.
The inverted-learning relationship has also been observed in
learning at the physiological level, suggesting its involvement
in evolutionary survival. Mateo (2008) explored the relation-
ship of elevated cortisol levels in juvenile ground squirrels and
the acquisition of survival-related responses as well as memory
retention of the mother’s territory. The author concluded that
experimentally decreased and increased cortisol levels inter-
fered with the naturally occurring alert response, memory ac-
quisition, and memory retention compared to ground squirrels
with naturally occurring levels.
A Holistic View of Procrastination
A number of studies have explored the area of procrastina-
tion and, while warning of the commonly experienced negative
impacts of such behavior, simultaneously reveal the complexity
of its influence on academic behavior. Hancock and Gainey
(2004) reject the accepted inverted-u relationship for arousal
and performance, stating its simplicity is cause for future study
utilizing what they call an extended-u as it is “more congruent
with known physiological and psychological effects and also
emerging behavioral response data” (p. 13). This work readily
acknowledges the variance of individual performance and en-
courages less simplified and more holistic explanations. Salehi,
Cordero, and Sandi’s (2010) research focusing on the hippo-
campus-dependent learning of rats supports the notion of the
inverted-u as over simplistic, stating the effect of stress on
memory and spatial learning is not uniform in all individuals.
Rather, performance in the high and low-stress levels was con-
tingent on the individual’s personality-like profile. This re-
search supports the idea that, while a majority of individuals
will fall within the expected performance curve, some will con-
tinue to experience optimal performance in extreme low and
high-stress conditions.
Another atypical view on procrastination is the notion of
categorically different types of procrastination based on the
effect on the individual or its intended use. Munz, Costello, and
Korabik (1975) observed and categorized types and levels of
arousal associated with academic test performance. They cre-
ated 3 levels of arousal consisting of High Activation (H-A),
General Activation (G-A), and General Deactivation (G-D).
Levels of activation were defined with descriptors such as “jit-
tery”, “fearful”, and “intense” for H-A, “lively”, “energetic”,
and “peppy” for G-A, and “placid”, “calm”, or “quiet” for G-D
(p. 41). By defining these levels of activation and observing
their relation to test performance, Munz et al. (1975) concluded
that there were 2 types of arousal, one that enhances and one
that impedes performance. Recent research has identified simi-
lar categories of procrastination. Chu and Choi (2005) catego-
rized procrastinators as either “passive procrastinators”, pro-
crastinators in the traditional sense, or “active procrastinators”,
those who deliberately suspend their actions for strategic time
management. The research of Chu and Choi suggests that pro-
crastination can be a deliberate action with an expected result
rather than a negatively influenced behavior; thus adding sup-
port to Solomon and Rothblum’s (1984) acknowledgement of
procrastination as “not merely a deficit of study habits and or-
ganization of time but… a complex interaction of behavioral,
cognitive, and affective components” (p. 509).
Ferrari, O’Callaghan, & Newbegin (2005) also contributed to
the categorization of procrastination type and deliberate use of
procrastination to facilitate an expected result while examining
the difference between “avoidant procrastinators”, those whose
procrastination stems from fears of failure or success, and
“arousal procrastinators”, those who procrastinate for a thrill
experience (pp. 1-2). Among their sample that included adult
participants from three English-speaking nations, 11.5% self-
identified as chronic arousal procrastinators and 9.9% self-
identified as chronic avoidant procrastinators (p. 5). By identi-
fying a larger portion of the sample as arousal procrastinators,
Copyright © 2013 SciRes. 145
these data directly challenge an accepted view of procrastina-
tion that is solely based in understanding the behavior as a re-
sponse to negatively conceived cognitive and physiological
The complexity of motivational influences of procrastination,
and the categorization thereof, has also been a recent focal
point in defining procrastination causal factors. Brownlow and
Reasinger (2000) explored the differences between intrinsic and
extrinsic motivators’ effect on academic behavior, and suggest
the combined lack of both intrinsic and extrinsic motivation as
the greatest cue that procrastination is likely to occur. Addi-
tionally, the authors found that while professors assume that
grades are inherent extrinsic motivators, the students in their
study who procrastinated reported a lack of sufficient extrinsic
motivation as a factor. Thus implying insufficient inherent mo-
tivation attributed to the testing medium will necessitate addi-
tional, often intrinsically originated, motivational influence that
is lacking in some students. However, relying on intrinsic mo-
tivation alone cannot reliably predict the avoidance of procras-
tination, as self-imposed deadlines are first, not as effective as
external deadlines and second, many students fail to set self-
imposed deadlines optimally (Ariely & Wertenbroch, 2002).
The collection of work on academic procrastination to date
offers a wide range of behavioral, affective, and physiological
rationale for the behavior, but scarcely addresses the possible
constructive role procrastination may hold for a number of
students. Perhaps procrastination in the graduate setting may in
fact provide aid rather than hindrance, dependent on a mastery
of the necessary skill set (e.g. writing, test taking, and evalua-
tion preparation skills). Yet, given the overwhelmingly negative
connotations, those who fall into this population may experi-
ence additional distress while procrastinating, thus resulting in
stress or activation levels that negatively impact optimal aca-
demic performance. The goal of this study is too add additional
insight to the complexity of academic procrastination behavior
with the hopes of helping academics and students develop a
more complete holistic view of the behavior, thus allowing for
better mitigation of the possible negative impact.
Participants were recruited via e-mail invitation sent to fac-
ulty and department representatives at 11 US universities within
20 varying fields of study. Inclusion criteria consisted only of
current enrollment in a graduate-level academic program; both
masters as well as doctorate level participants were surveyed.
Of the universities contacted, completed surveys were recorded
from universities located in the west and south census regions
of the United States. Participation was voluntary and incentives
were not offered at the study level, however it is unknown to
the researchers if professors later offered incentives, such as
class credit. Incomplete surveys were excluded from the data
set, unless excluded data was confined to the demographic
module; discrepancies in demographic and survey sample totals
reflect such instances. 123 participants (26 male, 96 female)
ranging from 1st year master’s to post doctoral academic stand-
ing completed the behavioral modules of the survey and those
data were included in the final study set. Participant age ranged
from 21 to 56 (M = 27.7) with the majority of participants in
the first or second year of doctoral studies (see Table 1).
Table 1.
Demographic information of sample.
Characteristic N % Mean SD MinMax
Reported 121 98.427.76 6.395 21 56
Did Not Report 2 1.6
Male 26 21.1
Female 96 78
Did Not Report 1 0.8
Academic Standing
1st Year Master’s12 9.8
2nd Year Master’s15 12.2
1st Year Doctoral23 18.7
2nd Year Doctoral28 22.8
3rd Year Doctoral16 13
4th Year Doctoral17 13.8
5th Year doctoral7 5.7
Post-Doctoral 4 3.3
Did Not Report 1 0.8
Note. N = 123
The Procrastination Assessment Scale-Students (PASS), de-
veloped by Solomon and Rothblum in 1984, is a two-part as-
sessment that first measures the prevalence of procrastination
across 6 academic domains, followed by questions focused on
procrastination causal factors. Academic domains addressed in
the first section include: writing a term paper, studying for an
exam, completing reading assignments, administrative task
completion, attending meetings, and a measure of academic
task performance in general. Participants are asked to indicate
procrastination tendencies in each academic domain on a
5-point Likert Scale ranging from 1 (never procrastinate) to 5
(always procrastinate). Similarly, the degree in which procras-
tination is a problem for the test taker, the definition of “prob-
lem” being open to individual interpretation, in each domain is
measured on a 5-point Likert Scale as well, ranging from 1 (not
at all a problem) to 5 (always a problem). Finally, participants
are asked to what extent they wished to decrease procrastina-
tion behavior in each academic domain, again indicating on a
5-point Likert Scale from 1 (do not want to decrease) to 5
(definitely want to decrease).
The second section of the PASS focuses on procrastination
reasoning by presenting one procrastination scenario and offer-
ing possible rationale for procrastination. Possible reasons in-
clude: difficulty in decision making, evaluation anxiety, perfec-
tionism, fear of success, risk-taking, peer influence, rebellion
against control, lack of self-confidence, aversion to a task, de-
Copyright © 2013 SciRes.
pendency and help seeking, lack of assertion, poor time man-
agement, and laziness. These items are measured on a 5-point
Likert Scale ranging from 1 (not at all reflects why I procrasti-
nated) to 5 (definitely reflects why I procrastinated). Through
resulting scores on these two sections of the PASS, researchers
can assess: frequency of procrastination, fear of failure, and
aversiveness to a task. Procrastination rationale reported which
does not fall within the scorable domains, such as laziness, peer
influence, and lack of assertion, Solomon and Rothblum sug-
gest are to be addressed when the PASS is administered in a
clinical setting in order to begin a conversation about student
procrastination influences and later develop individually tai-
lored interventions (Hersen & Bellack, 1988: p. 360).
In an effort to focus academic procrastination behavior data
for this study, 36 questions were created addressing 6 areas of
possible academic procrastination: scholastic evaluation tools in
general, writing a paper, studying for an exam, weekly reading
assignments, academic administrative tasks, and attendance
tasks. These questions allowed researchers within the present
study to build upon the procrastination reasoning addressed in
the PASS by including procrastination behavior covariates.
Within each of these 6 areas, participants were asked to indicate
on a 5-point Likert Scale ranging from 1 (low or never) to 5
(high or always) the following: procrastination frequency,
knowledge level of the subject matter, skill level in the testing
medium, fear of the testing medium or process, frequency that
procrastination leads to insufficient time allotment, and out-
come measured either in grade or completion success.
Participants were directed to an online self-report survey
consisting of a brief demographic and academic status module,
followed by a procrastination behavior section, consisting of
questions addressing fear and knowledge of various testing
mediums, procrastination behavior, and academic success. Of
the procrastination behavior section’s 80 questions, 44 were
part of the PASS. Utilization of the PASS provided validity
comparison data for questions created by the researchers spe-
cifically for this study. The final 36 questions were those cre-
ated by the authors of this study focusing on procrastination
frequency, subject knowledge, testing medium familiarity and
fear, task failure rate, and grade outcome. The estimated com-
pletion time of the survey was 45 minutes and students were
required to complete the survey in one session sans time limit.
Initially, participant groups were created wherein the type of
field the student was from was dichotomized into fields that
primarily utilize quantitative testing mediums, such as geogra-
phy and neuroscience, and fields that primarily utilize subjec-
tive testing mediums, such as psychology and sociology.
T-tests conducted did not yield any significant differences be-
tween male and female participants or between the dichoto-
mized field of study groups. Additionally, an analysis of vari-
ance (ANOVA) conducted on academic standing and non-di-
chotomized field of study were conducted for all main study
variables. No significant differences between groups were
found. Further, age was not found to be significantly correlated
with any study variables; therefore, the following analyses were
conducted on the full sample set regardless of demographic
The PASS was scored for procrastination frequency and fear
of failure, strictly adhering to scoring instructions included with
the assessment, and these data were compared to study-created
question scores for procrastination frequency and fear of the
testing medium. Frequency variables were found to be posi-
tively correlated, r(121) = .709, p < .001, as were fear variables,
r(121) = .26, p = .003. Significant correlations observed be-
tween procrastination frequency and procrastination-associated
fear measurements suggest convergent validity between the
PASS and the study-created questions.
Correlations were conducted between the study-created
question categories to explore significant relationships between
procrastination frequency, reported grade outcome, and selected
academic tasks in an effort to determine the significant rela-
tionships involved in academic performance. Procrastination
frequency was found to be significantly correlated to overall
grade outcome, r(121) = .38, p = < .001, suggesting that, de-
spite frequent procrastination, students successfully completed
academic tests regardless of the specific testing medium. This
relationship is contrary to the expected relationship between
procrastination and grade outcomes based on previous research
and suggest a more complex interaction exists.
Further, correlation analysis suggested a difference in types
of academic performance and the degree to which performance
could be influenced by outside variables. When comparing the
relationship between procrastination frequency and academic
task completion, academic task completion was not signifi-
cantly correlated to procrastination, r(121) = .005, p = .958. The
difference between procrastination frequency’s relationship to
academic task completion compared to grade outcomes sug-
gests that while grade outcome is reliant on optimal perform-
ance, which can vary in strength based on appropriate levels of
activation, academic task completion may be perceived as an
all-or-nothing affair. One simply cannot succeed in academic
tasks without adhering to attendance and deadline requirements,
which are the only way this area is evaluated, therefore the use
of procrastination cannot facilitate optimal performance.
Skill in the testing mediums addressed in this survey was
negatively correlated with fear of the testing medium (r(121) =
.25, p = .005) and failure to complete academic tasks (r(121) =
.21, p = .02). This suggests that students’ familiarity and prac-
tice with testing mediums over time results in a reduced inher-
ent fear response when faced with an academic test, regardless
of specific testing medium. Additionally, an increased skill in
the testing medium can lead to fewer incidents of insufficient
time allocation that possibly contribute to a further reduction of
inherent testing medium fear.
A regression analysis was conducted to explore if students’
reported procrastination frequency, subject knowledge, skill
with the testing medium, fear of the testing medium, and failure
to complete academic tasks significantly predicted participants’
reported grade outcome. This analysis revealed that procrasti-
nation frequency ( = .55, p < .001), academic subject knowl-
edge ( = .29, p < .05), and fear of the testing medium ( =
.21, p < .05) significantly predicted high grade outcomes (See
Table 2). These data suggest that not only does a high level of
subject knowledge predict a successful grade outcome, but
more surprisingly, low levels of fear and high levels of procras-
tination frequency do as well. Additionally, of the predictors
observed, the most significant predictor of high grade outcomes
was procrastination frequency.
Copyright © 2013 SciRes. 147
Copyright © 2013 SciRes.
Table 2.
Predictors of self-reported grade outcomes.
Self-Reported Grade Outcomes
B SE(B) β t Sig. (p) 95% CI
Reported Procrastination Frequency 2.093 .348 .550 6.022 .000** [3.03, 11.07]
Reported Subject Knowledge Level 1.441 .606 .289 2.378 .019* [1.41, 2.78]
Reported Testing Medium Skill Level .274 .669 .051 .409 .683 [1.05, 1.60]
Reported Fear of Testing Medium .772 .301 .212 2.560 .012* [1.37, .18]
Reported Failure to Complete Task .691 .407 .163 1.696 .093 [1.50, .12]
R2 .331
F 13.06
Note. N = 123. *p < .05, **P < .001.
The goal of this study was to explore the possible existence
and utilitarian role of active procrastination (Chu & Choi, 2005)
in a graduate student sample. With alarmingly high levels of
procrastination occurring in the academic setting (Ellis &
Knaus, 1977) a holistic view of procrastination behavior is
imperative, as a one-size-fits-all outline of causation and miti-
gation will not foster the greatest levels of student success.
Within the current study, a positive relationship between
procrastination frequency and overall grade outcome was found,
thus further supporting a dichotomous view of procrastination
providing stress that can either enhance or impede performance
(Munz et al., 1975). The lack of a significant relationship be-
tween academic task completion and procrastination frequency
further supports this view, as procrastination was not observed
in a domain where performance levels cannot vary and “active
procrastination” (Chu & Choi, 2005) only leads to missed
deadlines and failure. Additionally, significant negative corre-
lations between skill in the testing medium and both fear of the
testing medium and failure to complete academic tasks were
observed. Reported high levels of testing medium skill was
expected in a graduate school setting where academic skill
levels are assumed to be high, however, low levels of fear and
high levels of task completion suggest procrastination causal
factors originating somewhere other than fear and avoidance,
the sole domains provided by the PASS (Solomon & Rothblum,
1984). With internal deadlines being less effective than external
deadlines (Ariely & Wertenbroch, 2002), and a lack of appro-
priate intrinsic and extrinsic motivation typically resulting in
procrastination (Brownlow & Reasinger, 2000), perhaps pro-
crastination is allowing external deadlines to hold more weight
and provide a more appropriate level of performance stress for
the student to achieve optimal performance. Additionally, re-
gression analysis data revealed procrastination frequency as the
strongest predictor of high grade outcomes, providing addi-
tional support to theories suggesting utilitarian forms of pro-
crastination (Munz et al., 1975; Chu & Choi, 2005; Choi &
Moran, 2009; Ferrari, O’Callaghan, & Newbegin, 2005) as well
as the view that the inverted-u relationship for arousal and per-
formance deserves a more holistic explanation (Hancock &
Gainey, 2004) especially in regard to procrastination behavior.
Implications for Students and Educators
With an understanding of the possible healthy role that pro-
crastination may play in some students’ academic performance,
acceptance of such behavior can mitigate guilt or shame in-
duced stress that can result in academic performance failure
resulting from excess stress arousal. Self-shaming and chastis-
ing over procrastination should be reduced if such behaviors are
thought to act as a tool and do not result in low grades or a
failure to complete academic tasks. Educators wishing to pre-
emptively address both the negative as well as possible positive
roles that procrastination can have on the individual academic
process are encouraged to inform students and encourage them
to identify their individual response to procrastination. Have
students honestly and objectively quantify their procrastination
habits and the effect it has on both grade and project comple-
tion outcomes. Emphasize to what level procrastination inhibits
students from project completion, and if this threshold is found
to be unbroken, attempt to reduce procrastination stigma and
added stress. Challenge students who identify procrastination as
part of their process to “roll with it” but keep observant of out-
comes. Educators may also implement incremental deadlines to
help students, especially first year undergraduates, where fa-
miliarity and comfort of the testing medium is absent. From
there, students can understand procrastination as part of their
personal process and develop strategies to either avoid it or
work with it within acceptable parameters.
Additionally, a great deal of caution and prudence must be
allotted to such procrastination behavior analysis, as the num-
ber of individuals this behavior benefits is likely far fewer than
those it harms. For many, procrastination is the final variable
that contributes to poor grades, underperformance, and even
drop out or failure in the academic setting. It is suggested that
emphasis falls upon the frequency that procrastination leads to
insufficient time allotment as well as grade outcomes when
examining if procrastination is part of a student’s positive aca-
demic process. Once identified, premeditative utilization of
procrastination should be discouraged; rather a reduction of
shame and guilt paired with understanding and acceptance
should be used to reduce excess stress above that which the
currently present procrastination provides.
Limitations and Future Direction
Data collection for this study was conducted primarily during
the summer session, which resulted in a smaller sample size
than anticipated due to a lower number of programs being in
session. Additionally, some programs were at the end of their
semester, a time when students are less apt to participate in
research surveys, instead choosing to focus on finals and se-
mester end projects. Future studies should take this into account,
as recruiting during the beginning of the academic semester
may yield a larger sample thus allowing for greater generaliza-
Efforts were made to collect data from both interpretive areas
of study that are evaluated with subjective testing medium, such
as term papers, as well as areas of study utilizing a finite an-
swer testing format. Despite this effort, the sample in this study
leans heavily toward the social sciences and subjective testing
mediums. With a larger sample and more evenly distributed
areas of study, researchers could attain not only a better picture
of the graduate population as a whole, but would also allow for
comparison between testing mediums to explore procrastina-
tion’s influence on performance for each. Additionally, a prime
focus for future research should center on performance and
level of procrastination at each graduate year interval to better
understand the influence of practice in testing medium familiar-
ity and fear response. Because of the sample size, this study
was unable to accurately explore the possible differences in fear
and procrastination during each year of graduate studies which
would allow for a more holistic view of procrastination causa-
Perhaps the largest possible confounding variables in this
study lie in test fatigue and performance inflation. By the time
some students arrived toward the end of the 88-questions sur-
vey, it is possible that their answers’ accuracy may have drifted
out of accidental inattention or an effort to quickly complete the
survey. Similarly, as is inherent to self-report data collection,
academic performance verification was not attained. Despite
the anonymous format of the survey, lower than expected ob-
served variance of grade outcomes made researchers question if
reported academic performance was inflated by some students
in an effort to avoid perceived negative connotations associated
with reports of lower scores. Future researchers may identify
this kind of reported grade inflation by working with educators
to obtain an anonymous report of program grade averages for
comparison and analysis.
Future research consisting of larger samples, more areas of
academic study, and correcting for possible confounds of this
initial study may help both students and educators better under-
stand procrastination behavior and its effects upon academic
performance; both potentially positive and negative. While
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