Rethinking procrastination: positive effects of "active" procrastination behavior on attitudes and performance

J Soc Psychol. 2005 Jun;145(3):245-64. doi: 10.3200/SOCP.145.3.245-264.


Researchers and practitioners have long regarded procrastination as a self-handicapping and dysfunctional behavior. In the present study, the authors proposed that not all procrastination behaviors either are harmful or lead to negative consequences. Specifically, the authors differentiated two types of procrastinators: passive procrastinators versus active procrastinators. Passive procrastinators are procrastinators in the traditional sense. They are paralyzed by their indecision to act and fail to complete tasks on time. In contrast, active procrastinators are a "positive" type of procrastinator. They prefer to work under pressure, and they make deliberate decisions to procrastinate. The present results showed that although active procrastinators procrastinate to the same degree as passive procrastinators, they are more similar to nonprocrastinators than to passive procrastinators in terms of purposive use of time, control of time, self-efficacy belief, coping styles, and outcomes including academic performance. The present findings offer a more sophisticated understanding of procrastination behavior and indicate a need to reevaluate its implications for outcomes of individuals.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Achievement*
  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Attitude*
  • Canada
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Motivation
  • Personal Satisfaction
  • Regression Analysis
  • Self Efficacy
  • Time Management / psychology*