Procrastination and Self-Esteem among University Students

By Saleem, Marium; Rafique, Rafia | Pakistan Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, June 2012 | Go to article overview

Procrastination and Self-Esteem among University Students


Saleem, Marium, Rafique, Rafia, Pakistan Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology


The major objective of this correlational study was to explore whether an association exists between procrastination and self-esteem among university students. It also aimed at finding out gender and birth order differences in procrastination and self-esteem. The primary hypothesis was that there will be a negative association between procrastination and self-esteem. Moreover it was hypothesized that there would be significant gender and birth order difference in procrastination and self-esteem. Besides collecting demographic information through a self-constructed questionnaire, Lay Procrastination Scale (Lay, 1986) and Rosenberg Self-esteem Questionnaire (Rosenberg 1965) were administered on a sample of 80 (39 male, 41 female) university students. Reliability for the indigenous sample for Lay Procrastination Scale and Rosenberg Selfesteem questionnaire was found to a.85 and a.80. Results highlighted that a significant negative correlation between procrastination and self-esteem exists among university students (r= -.35, p<.01). Enhancement of selfesteem through the use of psychological interventions is being proposed.

Keywords: procrastination, self-esteem, gender, birth order

Procrastination can be an incapacitating and chronic problem for college and university students. Students procrastinate as they like to enjoy spare time, long term deadlines, and extracurricular activities which ultimately lead to their academic incompetence. Procrastination not only affects student grades, but also academic performance, thereby creating academic and career problems. Procrastination prevents students from reaching their objectives and goals; it inculcates a sense of discomfort, as things start accumulating. Procrastination keeps a student wedged in problems and tasks that prevent them from moving ahead in life; students find it difficult to focus on performing other tasks till they have completed the one in hand, which further effects quality of work in other spheres of life.

Different researchers have conceptualized procrastination differently. Hoover (2005) has conceptualized procrastination as not being able to set goal priorities and hence not being able to complete assignments on time. According to Lay (1986) procrastination means putting off something which is central to reach some goal. However, the fact is that procrastinating students earn lower scores than the non-procrastinators, perhaps due to underestimating the amount of time needed to perform tasks (Bender, 2006). Normally, the procrastinator will work on less important responsibility, rather than fulfilling the more important obligations, or he may use his or her time extravagantly in some minor activity or pleasure. In most cases, procrastinators keep themselves ready to work, but end up avoiding the activity. Hence, procrastination is avoiding a task that needs to be accomplished on precedence (Yaakub, 2000).

Procrastination considerably wastes significant time, if there is something supposed to be performed (Hobbs, 2008). In modern industrial society, time and punctuality are considered important standards. Those who procrastinate have found to carry a heavy cost due to inability to abide by these values, whereby effecting all domains of life. Psychological repercussions of delaying or putting off something are that it creates anxiety, that in turn can effects attention and concentration. Without proper concentration and attention, quality of performance and work is definite to fall. Researches point in the direction that procrastination raises students' anxiety and sinks their self-esteem. The most convincing research in this regard was done by Burka and Yuens (1983). According to their model of procrastination, low self-esteem is a central constituent of procrastination. A person who procrastinates starts feeling powerless and hopeless; his confidence suffers and future seems dark. Procrastinators usually avoid revealing information about their abilities, prefer menial tasks, make poor time estimates, tend to focus on the past, and do not act on their intentions. …

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