4th Bi-Annual Conference

Roehampton University, London, UK

July 25-26, 2005

 

PROGRAM AND PAPER ABSTRACTS
(Prepared by Henri C. Schouwenburg)

 

Author:

José Arco

Affiliation:

University of Granada, Spain

Title:

A functional analysis of procrastination behaviours in students at the University of Granada, Spain

Abstract:

Procrastination behaviours may be defined as those that are performed in the short-term and displace other more important behaviours that could be more adaptive in the long-term. One of the distinctive features of dysfunctional procrastination is that these delaying behaviours progressively expand into other areas of one's repertoire. Another distinctive feature of procrastination is the tendency to require immediate gratification which prevents students  from adopting more adaptive regulatory behaviours mediated bt delayed gratification. A third feature is concerned with the structural controls offered by contexts such as surveillance by parents, tutors or peers. These aspects of procrastination need to be understood by students in order to make behaviour changes more possible. The main goal in working with procrastinating students is to increase their awareness of the cognitive and emotional aspects of their behaviour in relation to these features. As part of an intervention programme, we firstly ask students to write down their weekly schedule. Then we do an exercise “Where does the time go?” which helps them to realise how much time is required to execute different tasks. A functional analysis is performed by and with the participants highlighting the dysfunction in relationship among antecedent behaviours and their consequences that they report are controlling their lives. As participants gain insight into their procrastination processes, they are supported to identify and prioritise goals that are informed by this new awareness. The intervention programme also identifies the contextual as well as subjective barriers to achieving academic goals. Results of this intervention programme will be reported.

 

 

Author:

Penny Aspinall

Affiliation:

University of Leeds, UK

Title:

Finding an effective model for helping the student who procrastinates

Abstract:

This paper will present some of the learning I have gained from running groups of students who present with difficulties in the action/distraction/completion cycle. I will also explore how shame can be present all stages of the cycle. I propose that by addressing the shame, much can be done to help people out of the feelings of despair, inertia and helplessness that procrastination can generate and help students find better ways of managing their studies and achieving their potential. I will also explore the struggle involved in acknowledging the very serious emotional and psychological issues of which procrastination is so often a symptom and of finding useful ways to address the behaviour (and actually get the task done) without ignoring the underlying distress.

 

 

Author:

Alison Barty

Affiliation:

University of London, UK

Title:

Theories that inform a programme for students who procrastinate

Abstract:

This paper will explore the psychological and therapeutic theories that inform a programme used with a range of cross-cultural students who present for counselling with the problem of procrastination.

 

 

Author:

Karem Diaz & Doris Argumedo

Affiliation:

Pontifical Catholic University of Peru, Lima, Peru

Title:

Chronic procrastination and personality styles in two Hispanic populations

Abstract:

The aim of this investigation was to describe the styles of personality involved in generalised chronic procrastination as well as identifying the traits related to this pattern of delay that are invariably present in several populations. Three scales were used to assess chronic procrastination (Lay, 1986; McCown & Johnson, 1989; Mann, 1982), and the Inventory of Personality Styles (MIPS, Millon, 1994) in their adapted versions on 152 Peruvians and 164 Spaniards between the ages of 20 and 66 years of age. Results showed that gender did not have a significant effect in procrastination trends. However, it was observed that young adults showed higher levels of procrastination than older adults. Spanish adults showed higher levels of decisional procrastination when compared to Peruvians. Specific traits related to chronic procrastination in general have been identified, such as the tendency to passively adapt to environments, be submissive to others, disorganised processing of information, hiding of skills, and a general negative perception of self.

 

 

Author:

Juan Francisco Diaz-Morales

Affiliation:

Complutense University, Madrid, Spain

Title:

Procrastination motives and time orientation in Spanish populations

Abstract:

The findings of previous studies indicate that time orientation is closely related to procrastination although there are still several issues to be clarified, for example (1) the issue of subtypes of procrastination, and (2) the generalization of results to other age groups. Firstly, we examined the relationship among temporal appraisal and three tendencies of procrastination: fear of failure or avoidant procrastination, indecision or decisional procrastination, and thrill-seeking or arousal procrastination. Secondly, I compare two groups of undergraduate participants in order to compare results from other countries. Two samples of spanish participants completed three measures of chronic procrastination (arousal, avoidant and decisional) and a multi-dimensional measure of time appraisal. Sample 1 comprised 257 university students (mean age 21 years, SD = 1.78) who reported that avoidant and arousal procrastination were predicted by low future time orientation, while decisional procrastination was predicted by low future and past-negative orientations. Sample 2, composed of 507 older adults (age mean = 49.77, SD = 6.15) indicated that the relationship between procrastination and time orientation was similar to trends in the undergraduate sample, although the adults showed less arousal, decisional and avoidant mean scores. Implications of these findings will be discussed.

 

 

Author:

Joseph R. Ferrari

Affiliation:

DePaul University, Chicago, USA

Title:

Chronic procrastination: Is everyone NOT doing? Evaluation of arousal and avoidant procrastination styles

Abstract:

For the past decade, more and more research on individual differences related to chronic procrastination has been published. In the present address, two forms of chronic procrastination are noted: arousal, where individuals wait until close to the deadline in order to promote a thrill seeking experience, and avoidance, where individuals wait to complete a task in order to reduce potential disclosure of personal inabilities. Although both forms are highly correlated, there are ways to separate their contributions. This presentation covers several data sets with adults where both arousal and avoidant procrastinations were measured and it then demonstrates how their prevalence rates may be similar but not identical. Information on the value of discussing both forms separately is highlighted. A “call for continued action” among conference presentations to explore both chronic procrastination styles together and separately seems warranted.

 

 

Author:

Roman Gabrhelik

Affiliation:

Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic

Title:

Procrastination and the amotivational syndrome in cannabis users: A qualitative approach

Abstract:

The main aim of this paper is to discuss possible links between procrastination (commonly defined as task completion delay as compared to original planned schedule) and the “Amotivational Syndrome” (AS is defined as the loss of the desire to work or compete, accompanied bydecreased productivity and eroded self-concept) in cannabis users. The issue of a possible association between these two phenomena was explored as part of a longitudinal research project focused on evaluation of the psychosocial impact of long-term use of cannabis drugs. The resluts to be presented are based on semi-structured interviews with 10 participant cannabis users. A grounded theory analysis was conducted indicating that procrastination may disrupt the AS phenomenon. Distinct themes informing the grounded theory will be presented.

 

 

Author:

Clarry Lay

Affiliation:

York University, Toronto, Canada

Title:

Temperament ans some possible origins of trait procrastination

Abstract:

Beginning with Rothbart's temperament concept of Effortful Control, Negative Affect and Extraversion, other variables will be identified in attempting to trace the development of trait procrastination. The role of covariate Neurotic Disorganization will be considered, along with the idea that focused attention is effortful and fatiguing, particularly for certain individuals. In this regard, Energy Level will be examined. A resulting predisposition to engage in dilatory behaviour will depend on other facts including the lack of 'Learned Industriousness' and a lack of General Self-Efficacy and a need to escape from Self Awareness. The development of Socially Prescribed Perfectionism and of Motivational Beliefs will also be considered. Questionnaire data based on university students will be presented.

 

 

Author:

Jean O'Callaghan

Affiliation:

Roehampton University, London, UK

Title:

Talk is dangerous – how students who identify with a problem account of procrastination position themselves as outsiders in university culture

Abstract:

In contrast to the other approaches presented, a critical psychology theoretical stance is adopted in this paper. The assumption that procrastination is necessarily a fixed personality trait that is difficult to change is questioned. This paper proposes that it can be understood as a discourse prevalent in particular settings, such as university cultures where students position themselves as either 'insiders' or 'outsiders'  of the institution.
The paper reports a study in which students who identified with a problem account of procrastination were interviewed and a contrasting group who described themselves as 'non-procrastinators'. The focus of their accounts was around the experience of doing academic writing at which it was ascertained beforehand that both groups were competent. Both groups also reported that they were motivated and enjoyed their subject of study.
A Foucauldian discursive analysis is presented illustrating  how each group broadly adopted the contrasting 'subject positions' of being 'insiders' or 'outsiders' in the power discourses of informal university talk about doing academic writing.
Those students who identified with being in the grip of procrastination positioned themselves as 'outsiders' in university practices in their identity ascriptions of being flawed, weak, indulgent and unable to control their delaying practices or change them. Students who offered this problem account, distanced themselves from 'insider' students whom they considered variously as “boring, geeky and sloggers” yet constructed themselves as inferior to them by not having their attributes such as 'will power' and 'self-discipline'.
This position enabled students to construct themselves as victims of procrastination, offering a power discourse of resistance to the demands and routines of university life rather than adopt an ascription of being lazy or 'not up to the job'. It is suggested that the former ascription could easily be challenged and the latter would threaten self-esteem. This face-saving construction of procrastination left these students constrained by limited practices of last minute performance or appeals for extensions and special consideration, that positioned them as disadvantaged and oppressed by university institutional practice. This analysis offers a rationale for a narrative therapy approach to work with students who procrastinate as a first level intervention.

 

 

Author:

Bilge Uzun Ozer

Affiliation:

Middle East Technical University, Ankara, Turkey

Title:

Prevalence of procrastination among Turkish adults and students

Abstract:

Although there have been many studies on procrastination in different cultures, thewre have been very few studies on this issue in Turkey. In a first study, decisional, avoidant, and arousal procrastination measures were administered to 354 Turkish adults (147 men and 204 women, mean age 38.7). The preliminary analysis showed that 22% of participants were indecisive, 15% were avoidant, and 17% were arousal procrastinators. Moreover, male participants were found to be greater procrastinators than females and employees reported higher rates of procrastination than their managers on the arousal scale. Respondents with lower levels of education reported higer rates of all types of procrastination than those with university education. In a second study 203 Turkish students took part. The Procrastination Assessment Scale Students (Solomon & Rothblum, 1986) was administered. Results showed that 51% of the students claimed to be academic procrastinators. More male students than female students reported themselves as procrastinators. A principle component analysis produced 4 factors, namely Fear of Failure, Task Aversiveness, Laziness, and Rebellion against Control. A negative relationship was found between academic procrastination and academic achievement.

 

 

Author:

Andrea Perry

Affiliation:

Psychotherapist and author, London, UK

Title:

The “Action Spiral” - a proposed model for working with students who procrastinate

Abstract:

This presentation will provide an overview of the “Action Spiral” proposed as a means of understanding the development and progression of the habit of procrastination as well as offering potential for therapeutic intervention. Deterioration in the sense of self-belief is highlighted as a special point both of concern, understanding and potentially, hope. The model draws on psychotherapy theory and experience gained clinically and through work with counsellors from a variety of UK universities.

 

 

Author:

Hans-Werner Rückert

Affiliation:

Freie University of Berlin, Germany

Title:

Regression from oedipal conflict as a source of procrastination: The case of Marcel Proust

Abstract:

Proust's famous novel A la recherche du temps perdu is mainly about procrastination. Its sheer existence signifies the victory over what Proust himself regarded as the worst possible vice.
This analysis will interpret Proust's procrastination as a regressive movement from oedipal conflict with his father, an eminent physician and author of books on child education, towards dyadic relation dynamics. As a neurotic symptom, Proust's procrastination contained aggressive-compulsive impulses as well as resistance against oedipal rivalry. On a theoretical level, this kind of procrastination can be seen as a refusal of the developmental tasks of triangulation, identification and individualization. Other clinical examples of children with famous parents will be presented, to illustrate this kind of family constellation-induced procrastination.

 

 

Author:

Henri C. Schouwenburg

Affiliation:

University of Groningen, The Netherlands

Title:

Procrastination, motivation, and personality: Towards a motivational theory of procrastination

Abstract:

Procrastination is viewed as a normal effect of conflicting motivational tendencies, but excessive procrastination may point to a personality problem. Therefore, reducing excessive procrastination may require a lifelong process of acquiring self-control.

This contribution starts with the consideration of the frequency distribution of trait procrastination scores in a large number of university students, in order to show that trait procrastination is normally distributed. Subsequently, current expectancy-value motivation theory is reviewed and extended with self-control theory. Finally, it will be discussed how personality affects the components of motivation.

One implication of the theory proposed will be that cognitive-behavioural interventions with a view to reducing procrastination may be too optimistic. Rather, excessive procrastinators should be prepared to manage their personality traits that promote procrastination. This could be a very long process.

 

 

 

Author:

Robert Topman

Affiliation:

University of Leiden, The Netherlands

Title:

“Don't tell them, show them” - a way of working with students who procrastinate

Abstract:

Procrastinators and their cognitive therapists use a lot of words. To change rigid and unproductive thinking patterns, verbal discussions are seen as essential. However, other modalities of information processing are neglected and could be fruitfully used to circumvent rigid, habitual thinking patterns.  A wide variety of means are used in traditional CBT to reduce the frequency, intensity or situational sensitivity of such thinking patterns, or to change them into more desirable forms. In more recent methods, there is little emphasis on “changing the content of thoughts: rather, the emphasis is on  changing the awareness of and relationship to thoughts” (Masuda, Hayes, Sackett & Twohig, 2004).
In this presentation the application of visual (and some auditory) material to change the awareness of rigid and unproductive thinking patterns in the counselling of procrastinators is explored. These experiments are part of a historical tradition. In medieval miniatures, renaissance emblemata and imagined agents, 16th-17th century paintings etc., virtues and vices are represented. Especially Acedia (sloth and torpor) is relevant for this conference. A very brief introduction will be given and stimuli for tapping into other modalities of information processing will be presented.