Learning And Causes Of Procrastination Psychology Essay

Learning is relatively permanent change in an organism’s behavior due to experience. According to Segment Freud child’s personality is built within 6 years. And if during those six years the child is taught procrastination through observation it will go on All through his life and he will keep on delaying all his work without considering that there is something wrong with it

One of the type of learning is through imitation and observation. Procrastination is something which is not in-built but is observed and learned from the surrounding.

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The word procrastination has its origin from the latin word pro-crastinus where “pro” means “forward or in favour of” and “crastinus” means “of tomorrow”

and it refers to delaying a task for later time or completely avoiding it.

Procrastination is a highly prevalent act as it could be described as someone knowing that he/she is bond to do an assigned task and even willing to accomplish it but fails to successfully complete the task on given or expected time.

Procrastination also occurs to be a complex phenomenon as people label it as bad, stupid and loseful (Briody, 1980), and above 95% of the procrastinators wants to reduce it (OaˆYBrien, 2002)

Procrastination includes neglecting doing what we know we should be doing.And at times we can be creative in our neglecting techniques.If you find yourself procrastinating on daily basis than to know the cause for your this inactivity you need to dig your soul a bit. Tucker-Ladd (2006).


Haycock, McCarthy, & Skay 1998, Tuckman and Sexton 1989:

“Procrastination is the tendency to delay or completely avoid responsibilities, decisions, or tasks that need to be done”

According to Lay (1986) procrastination means:

“The putting off of that which is necessary to reach some goal”

Solomon and Rothblum (1984) define procrastination as:

“The act of needlessly delaying tasks to the point of experiencing subjective discomfort”

Senecal, Koestner, & Vallerand 1995:

“Procrastination involves knowing that one is supposed to perform an activity, and perhaps even wanting to do so, yet failing to motivate oneself to perform the activity within the desired or expected time.”

But the best definition for procrastination is:

“Delaying of a task that was originally planned despite expecting to be worse off for the delay” (Van Eerde, 2003)

As it is obvious in all the above definitions that all the conceptualists believes that procrastination must include some kind of avoiding, postponing or putting off an assignment or an act, as reference to the Latin origin of the word procrastination. On these basis, one procrastinates when one delays starting and finishing of an expected behavior or action.


Skills of a person can lead to procrastination in two different ways. The first and most common is the lack of having enough skill in the job on which one is procrastinating. Anything which one has to do is put off day after day only because of the fear of not having the ability to do it in the first place. In other words people simply procrastinate on doing a given task because they do not know how to do it in the first place depending on what they perceive of their own abilities.

The Skill deficit also highlights the issue of lacking “Time Management Skills “. People who cannot manage the completion of a task in time tend to put it off to a time later. Even if the time allotted for the given task is enough, a person used to procrastinate will assume it as less than what she/he need. The person can be mistaken in estimating the time they need to complete a given task.


This is a situation in which a person is forced to procrastinate by external entities affecting adversely the efficiency needed to complete the job.

This can be divided into two sub-categories:


This is when the external entities blocking our cause are produced by others. It is when other people force us to delay our work to a time a later. Anything such as presence of someone, a tempting offer, noise or any other thing which can prove to be distracting.


A situation when the distractions driving us away from work our made by none other than ourselves. This type of procrastination is much easier to eradicate because the solution lies within us. Only we ourselves can try to be honest with ourselves and prioritize our work efficiently. Most commonly such procrastinations are caused by our nervous habits which are time wasting and attention diverting.


Factors such as following can fall into this category-:- Fearing from success or having the fear in premature thinking that he will definitely fail. Passive aggression and perfectionism also contribute a big part to the whole. Adrenaline Addiction is a rather odd factor but enjoying crisis is common among a small proportion of people and this is also an important part.

This list can be divided into two main subcategories: Self-Sabotage and Other-Sabotage. Our procrastination affects us directly or is our procrastination indirectly affecting other people too? This question is often ignored but the answer can be our source of procrastination. Justifying the point with an example, if we are late to a meeting, it definitely affects us but also affects the other people who are a part of it and such procrastination can be done on purpose knowing the consequences.


This is a very important Type of procrastination. The jobs delayed due to one’s own feeling to it falls in to this type of procrastination. When people procrastinate on something, it’s their inner feeling known as soul saying. We ourselves do experience the time we say:

“No! I hate this job and I don’t want to this. “I never wanted this in my life and I don’t want this now either! Please, please, fix this awful problem spoiling my entire life and make this job just go away!”

So if the person is not satisfied with the cause of what he is being asked to do, Procrastination is already at the door. This type of procrastination is the most easy to develop in anyone and most hard to eradicate.


1According to clinical literature, defiance, animosity and ill-natured are thought to be major factors for procrastination. People following such patterns are very likely to avoid tasks. Any job which is forced or imposed on us is a task we will more probably procrastinate on. Rebellion is about control and control over how we take a job given to us psychologically. People even though knowing that a particular task has to be done and has to be done in a specific time but they think that they can do it later and they don’t want to do it now. The “later” they think of never arrives and thus, leading to procrastination. For example, a person is constantly reminded to dress up more often will start hating being ordered and as a result he won’t dress up more. The constant reminder inflicts a psychological barrier which involuntarily forces the person to procrastinate. Procrastination can be a form of unassertive. When a task feels unfair, people start to procrastinate. Kids often do this by delaying doing their homework, or apologizing to a sibling.

Discounted Expectancy Theory

2Higher the utility will be greater will be the preference. This simply means that a job being assigned to us will be preferred by us more than another one which is less rewarding. Expectancy relates to how often that event occurs while Value means how fruitful that outcome is. What we expect as a result of the job assigned plays a vital role in patterns of procrastination. It is very natural that we would like to choose acts that provide us a much better chance of having a rewarding outcome. Impulsiveness refers to your sensitivity to delay. Finally, Delay indicates time span of receiving a reward. We are constantly entangled with making decisions related to various things we do daily. Should we go to complete assignment or watch TV series? Hence we are more likely to do things that are more rewarding. On the other hand, we avoid doing tasks with less pleasing qualities. We are more tempted to tasks that yields immediate results and avoid tasks that gives rewards in future. To explain how expectations can cause procrastination, a simple example is of a student. If he is weak in math and good in English, approaching exam days he will be more eager to study English as he expects a better result and the preparation of the math exam will fall prey to procrastination.


People suffer from a feeling of guilt if they do not accomplish the assigned task in time. Guilt is an unwanted feeling no matter which part of human psychology is under study. . Instead of correcting, people move on with the same routine hoping that one day they may be able to overcome the guilty feeling. Once procrastinated on a specific task. The general pattern shown by study is that the task is forever procrastinated on. For example, a person failed to meet a social duty such as visiting a sick friend which initially made him/her feel guilty. Once the procrastinator used to visit her often and now due to some reason there is no visit to her in a very long time. The procrastinator then prepares herself that now she will not go to visit her nor do any other sort of social work thinking that you don’t have much time and you were not given any credit either way.

This is basically because of the guilt in the mind of the person and in this way psychological barrier is formed which permanently barred similar activities.


3Perfectionism is the certainty that your work MUST be flawless, otherwise it is useless. Perfectionists procrastinate because they think that whatever they are going to do will not end up being perfect and due to this fear they procrastinate. People who have a habit of completing every task perfectly for them doing even small tasks becomes challenging. This attitude leads to procrastination. If you’re not sure that you’ll get a job but have decided that you must get a job, you would not apply to it.

Last Minute Syndrome

Procrastinators think that time pressure enables them to come across any task in a more efficient and a creative way. But things don’t go the way they had thought and they tend to give a poor performance.


When people are bored with their monotonous routine they tend to procrastinate in order to get some change or rather this gives them a break from their daily work. This type of procrastination is usually experienced with routine or ongoing tasks.

Lack of Motivation

4Lack of motivation for a task is a major reason for not doing an undesirable task. Most procrastinators are of the view that there is something wrong with them if they don’t feel motivated to start with the task.


Following are the social causes of procrastination.

Teacher and student discomfort level

Due to the uncomfortable level between teacher and student, students feel discomfort to tell their problems regarding studies to teachers hence their problem remain unsolved when it’s time to complete that work the work seems complex and students tend to procrastinate.

Distant relation between teacher and student

Computer mediated communication relation between teacher and student result in student procrastination. Physical presentation of teacher is important as student knows that he must compete the work otherwise he will be punished when online this fear eradicated and students tend to procrastinate.

Untrained teacher at primary level

Sigmund Freud said that child’s personality is made in first 5 years. When student gets untrained teachers at primary level who can’t build up child’s personality and are unable to train them to do work on time this goes on all over one’s life. They never learn the importance of doing work on time hence they procrastinate at every step.

Stress from other sources of life

People procrastinate when they are stressed with many other things going on in their life. This stress overrule their tasks hence they start to procrastinate because they want to end their stress first and then focus on the assigned task.

Diversity of culture

When a person enters a different culture they feel awkward and hesitant to present their idea in this way they procrastinate in their work because they feel that people of other culture have different thinking and views they would reject their ideas.

Rejection of change in society

Society always like and appreciate its current system. They immediately reject new idea or innovation regardless of the fact of how good it is. People who want to present new ideas they procrastinate due to fear of rejection.

Decisions imposed by parents

Parents have set aims for their children but most of the time children have their own set goals. When their goals don’t match parents tend to impose their decisions on their children. As a result children who have no interest in that field tend to procrastinate and they think that their set aim was better than their parents.

What is cognitive psychology?

Cognitive Psychology is the branch of psychology that studies mental procedures encompassing how people contemplate discern, recall, and learn. As portion of the larger field of cognitive science, this division of psychology is connected to supplementary control encompassing neuroscience, philosophy and linguistics.

Following are some of the cognitive causes of procrastination.

Fear of Failure

Linking the task to our self-worth is often the crucial mistake that leads to deferring a task. We can often go to self-defeating lengths to prevent feeling judged. Yet, when we judge ourselves as failures, we fulfil this expectation by either not completing the task, finishing the task late, or completing the task in a substandard way. But if we wrongly believe that our self-worth is based on our talent and our performance, then procrastination becomes the way that we block either of these aspects from being on display.

Fear of Success

There are many reasons why potential success can be threatening. For some, there is the fear that success can be too difficult to maintain, for others, cultural pressures may bring deep shame on those who fail, while others simply fear competition and not winning.

Some procrastinators avoid success because on some irrational level, they expect to be negatively labelled for their desire to win, For example, they may fear being thought of as ‘selfish’, ‘arrogant’, if they are successful.

Similarly, for others the fear of success is based on low self-esteem issues, feeling that they are not worthy or deserving of success, some people procrastinate because of another low self-esteem issue: fatalism and some people feel that they will lose love or be hated by others if they succeed.

Lack of Self-Confidence

People who suffer from procrastination tend to have lower self-esteem and be less confident than others. If you do not feel good about yourself, you may feel that others are cleverer and that you can’t bear to show your perceived inferior work. It is important to be aware of how you criticize yourself and how this can cause you to freeze when work is due in order to avoid being judged.

Poor Study Skills

Failure to understand how to produce work quickly can lead to feeling overwhelmed and cause procrastination.

Emotional and mental health problems

If you become overwhelmed, you will feel unable to complete tasks or cope with your personal relationships. This can potentially exacerbate emotional problems, making task completion difficult.


People tend to procrastinate on task that seem stressful to them. Hence people who easily get under stress starts to procrastinate. There is a list of things that makes people anxious especially irrational beliefs, it includes a variety of anxiety-provoking world views.


It is not unusual to find university life frustrating and disappointing at times. However, procrastination can occur when your angry feelings get the better of you. Examples are when you may feel let down by friends or even possibly your tutors. An angry response to this can be an avoidance of social or academic responsibilities.


Procrastination has negative impacts both in your personal and professional life and also on one’s health. Most of the negative impacts are related to one’s daily life. The Major one’s which according to most of psychologists and public are important are as follows:

Procrastination is a time-killer.

Procrastination promote poor academic performance.

Procrastination produces anxiety and one’s nervous system.

Postponement of tasks could hinder achievement in life endeavor.

Deadlines are often not met due to postponement of tasks.

Greatest opportunities are lost due to procrastination.

A delayed task is a delayed success.


5To get rid of procrastination one needs to get fully aware of the behavioral changes. Secondly try to make the task less threatening and more enjoyable so that it doesn’t haunt and one doesn’t fear of starting the task. Thirdly, make it a habit that before starting any task, make a plan or procedure of how to come across with it, this way things will become a lot simpler. Fourthly one needs to have good time management skills especially in the field of planning so that one is aware of the significant future outcomes.

6General counseling and psychotherapy techniques have yielded some improvement with procrastination; however, specific behavioral and cognitive-behavioral techniques appear to be more effective in reducing procrastination. One should have proper aims set, divide its work, and change one’s thinking of perfectionism and fear of outcome will help in reducing procrastination.


Procrastination means to delay a job or task which we have to accomplish to a time later. Different patterns of procrastination have been revealed when people were examined and studied. These studies included people belonging to different age groups, professions, lifestyles and cultures.

The results expected and the results obtained were entirely different from each other. It was expected that people falling into the higher age groups especially above 45 would be more likely to procrastinate but the studies showed that the most common procrastinators were in the range of age groups 16-20.

According to a study conducted by Fuschia M. Sirois, a doctorate participant in the psychology Department at The Carleton University, in Ottawa, along with her colleague T.A. Pychyl who is an associate professor of psychology, Undergraduates were very good subjects displaying procrastination.

“Avoidant Styles” was an important term used by the two people mentioned above in their study of procrastination. It can be simply defined as the tendency to avoid. The procrastination seen in the undergraduate students were linked to multiple reasons.

Unhealthy Sleep

The students not being able to sleep well during the academic sessions are likely to procrastinate. This is because of the negative effects which the unhealthy sleep inflicts on the student. This causes laziness and eventually the student loses the spark needed to perform any task.


The diet which the student takes plays a very important role in procrastination. Unhealthy diet made of low quality ingredients work negatively on the mind and the rest of the body. The vitamins and other essentials when are not the part of the diet, the body’s efficiency deceases and thus the student starts to delay his work.

These factors leading to the “Anxiety Avoidance “were declared as the reason of procrastination among those undergraduates under examination.

Steven A. Scher who is an associate professor of psychology at the Eastern Illinois University also came up with the results which were enough to further provide details on the anxiety-avoidance model of procrastination which was presented earlier during the study conducted on undergraduates. A common observation is that procrastinators are prey to situation called “fear of failure.” But in recently concluded studies of undergraduates and elementary-school students, Mr. Scher and his fellows assisting him on the studies have found that procrastinators are quite less anxious than the general population and the fact about how other people as general observers perceive their success or failure.

Student procrastinators are mostly vulnerable to the two kinds of wishful thinking. This was explained by Bruce W. Tuckman who is a professor of educational policy and leadership at the Ohio State University. Mr. Tuckman conducts and looks after a large study-skills course which has strict deadlines. In a recently concluded study he came to the result that the students in the class who always complete their work late or at the last minute are used to say to themselves that they are probably waiting for the arrival of the perfect moment or that they believe in their abilities and can pull it off at the very tipping point of provided time. Mr.Tuckman found it just as expected that both these types of statements provided to deceive oneself are simply rational statements. Students who admitted the fact that they often tell themselves such things did poor in the class as compared to those who avoided such statements and tried to achieve the goal as soon as possible.

In a different study, Mr. Ferrari showed data about undergraduate students making false excuses for late assignment work which itself is a result of procrastination. Further strength was provided to the study by a survey conducted on procrastination among undergraduate students at a university which was particularly selected and 2.7 percent of the examined students admitted that they had at least once falsely claimed that a grandmother had died or had to leave the city in an emergency. More common false excuses include claims that the student’s computer broke down or that the assignment pages had been left behind at home or in the hostel room. Mr. Ferrari found that students were majorly more likely to offer such lies and false excuses to female instructors rather than to male ones. This also explains how psychology works similarly in same genders and the risk of being caught with a false excuse is higher in the case of a male instructor.


The rate of procrastination among students is high. This could impede the promotion of academic excellence in the institution. It therefore becomes necessary for students to evolve effective management of their time through proper time scheduling, avoidance of procrastination and reduction of time wasters.

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