Procrastination and Multidimensional Perfectionism: A Meta-Analysis of Main, Mediating, and Moderating Effects

By Xie, Yu; Yang, Jiyu et al. | Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal, January 1, 2018 | Go to article overview

Procrastination and Multidimensional Perfectionism: A Meta-Analysis of Main, Mediating, and Moderating Effects


Xie, Yu, Yang, Jiyu, Chen, Faxiang, Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal


Procrastination is a prototypical motivational phenomenon, and is defined as a functional delay or tendency to rush (Chu & Choi, 2005; Steel, 2007; Steel & König, 2006). Procrastination has become prevalent throughout the world in recent years (Ozer, O'Callaghan, Bokszczanin, Ederer, & Essau, 2014), and is a significant problem in academia, with findings in studies on procrastination showing that between 70% and 95% of students procrastinate (Klassen, Krawchuk, & Rajani, 2008), and 50% of students procrastinate problematically and consistently (Steel, 2007). In addition, procrastination is very prevalent among working adults, with findings showing that approximately 20% of adults procrastinate in their daily lives generally (Hammer & Ferrari, 2002).

Procrastination is harmful to the procrastinator and it occurs in behavioral and emotional dimensions (Fee & Tangney, 2000; Kiamarsi & Abolghasemi, 2014). Previous researchers have examined the correlation between procrastination and individual performance, and found that procrastinators have poorer performance than others (Steel, Brothen, & Wambach, 2001). For example, students who put off a task or assignment tend to obtain a low grade (Kim & Seo, 2015). Procrastination is also common in a variety of other fields such as medicine (e.g., delay in medical treatment) and commerce (e.g., postponement of tax declaration resulting in errors leading to overpayment of taxes; see, e.g., Holland, 2001). Previous researchers have linked procrastination to negative emotions such as depression, anxiety, and frustration (Wolters, 2003). For example, students who procrastinate are more likely than their peers to feel stressed and anxious at the end of a course (Assur, 2003).

Psychology researchers have explored the causes and correlations of procrastination, and have produced models to elucidate the potential influencing factors in procrastination (Dietz, Hofer, & Fries, 2007; Ozer et al., 2014; Seo, 2008). However, the researchers failed to present the full picture of procrastination in these models until Steel and König (2006) used expectancy theory (Vroom, 1964), need theory of motivation (Murray, 1938), cumulative prospect theory (Tversky & Kahneman, 1992), and picoeconomics to propose their temporal motivational theory (TMT), which is an integrative motivational model. In regard to TMT, Steel further enhanced understanding of procrastination when he established a nomological web of procrastination. Namely, although the causes of procrastination vary, personality traits play a considerable role in its occurrence, and Steel (2007) suggested in his meta-analysis that conscientiousness is a strong predictor of procrastination.

Perfectionism is broadly defined as a personality trait characterized by individuals having exceedingly high standards for themselves, with accompanying tendencies of extreme self-critical evaluation (Flett & Hewitt, 2002; Frost, Marten, Lahart, & Rosenblate, 1990; Hewitt & Flett, 1991). Perfectionists have irrational beliefs about the need for them to be perfect, and they rarely feel satisfaction. Previous findings have shown that there is a close correlation between perfectionism and procrastination (e.g., Stöber & Joormann, 2001). However, empirical results have been contradictory in regard to the perfectionism-procrastination relationship. Some findings show that perfectionism is negatively related to procrastination (Bong, Hwang, Noh, & Kim, 2014; Tian & Deng, 2011), whereas others show there is a positive correlation (Brownlow & Reasinger, 2000; Burns, Dittmann, Nguyen, & Mitchelson, 2000; Flett, Blankstein, Hewitt, & Koledin, 1992).

Meta-analyses could be performed to fill this gap in the literature through aggregation of the resulting values and estimation of the strength of correlations. However, previous meta-analysis results are inconsistent in terms of the correlation between perfectionism and procrastination. …

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