Just hours until the deadline, I could not help but to think why I procrastinate so much. Why did I leave assignments until the latest possible time? I began to question whether procrastination is genetic or if it is a learned trait. Also I wondered if procrastination could be a good thing as well.
A study shows that 20 percent of people chronically look for other things to do when there is a more difficult task at hand. People that procrastinate say that they “perform better under pressure” (Psych Today). This statement has no evidence to back it up though and so we cannot directly link procrastination to working better under pressure from this.
A genetics study showed that, “procrastination is moderately heritable, and that genetically it was not separate from impulsivity” (Psych Today 2). This does not mean that procrastination is an impulse; it is about a person’s time management as well as goal setting and completing abilities.
A study was done with identical and fraternal twins to see whether procrastination was genetic or if it was just because of the family environment that a person was raised in. The research found that 46 percent of the variance in procrastination has a genetic contribution (Psych Today 2). Now this does not mean that procrastination is all genetic, but the study found that there is most likely a little genetic effect on whether a person procrastinates or not.
University of San Diego professor Frank Partnoy believes that procrastination can be a good thing. He claims that the longer we wait, the more we can asses the situation and make the correct decision about how we are going to go about doing our task at hand. He also says that procrastination has just become a part of our society and that if he had an academic paper due on September 1, people would begin to question him if he turned it in early, in the month of August (Smithsonian).
Although peer pressure and the “social norm” may have an affect on our procrastination, this anecdote may not be entirely the best. He may seem to have a point but this could just be his excuse for never completing tasks well in advance. Also not every task has to be analyzed for a long time before we begin, so in some cases waiting until the last minute might not have any benefit at all.
A survey done on more than 24,000 people around the world found that 95 percent of people confess to at least occasional procrastination and 25 percent of these people are chronic procrastinators (NY Times). Dr. Steel believes that this is due to the changing of society and the flexibility of jobs. This may be true, but procrastination could be caused by other variables so just singling out our changing lifestyle is very unlikely.
There are some links to genetics that suggest that procrastination is determined by a person’s genetic makeup, but to reject the null hypothesis, that procrastination is not genetic, would be getting ahead of things. The evidence is there to show that the way we live may have an effect on how much and when we procrastinate but saying that this is the reason we procrastinate cannot be entirely true. There are many things that can affect our procrastination and many of us wish that we did not procrastinate as much.