Procrastination refers to the tendency to postpone the initiation and completion of a given course of action. Approximately one-fifth of the adult population and half of the student population perceive themselves as being severe and chronic procrastinators. Albeit not a psychiatric diagnosis, procrastination has been shown to be associated with increased stress and anxiety, exacerbation of illness, and poorer performance in school and work. However, despite being severely debilitating, little is known about the population of procrastinators in terms of possible subgroups, and previous research has mainly investigated procrastination among university students. The current study examined data from a screening process recruiting participants to a randomized controlled trial of Internet-based cognitive behavior therapy for procrastination (Rozental et al., in press). In total, 710 treatment-seeking individuals completed self-report measures of procrastination, depression, anxiety, and quality of life. The results suggest that there might exist five separate subgroups, or clusters, of procrastinators: “Mild procrastinators” (24.93%), “Average procrastinators” (27.89%), “Well-adjusted procrastinators” (13.94%), “Severe procrastinators” (21.69%), and “Primarily depressed” (11.55%). Hence, there seems to be marked differences among procrastinators in terms of levels of severity, as well as a possible subgroup for which procrastinatory problems are primarily related to depression. Tailoring the treatment interventions to the specific procrastination profile of the individual could thus become important, as well as screening for comorbid psychiatric diagnoses in order to target difficulties associated with, for instance, depression.
The current study was made possible in part thanks to a grant from the Swedish Research Council (2011-2913) to the last author, and a grant from Linköping University to the fifth author. None of the granting sources were involved in the preparation or execution of the current study, and were not a part of the statistical analyses or drafting of the manuscript. The authors of the current study would like to thank Piers Steel for allowing a Swedish translation and use of PPS, IPS, and STS, as well as for providing background information and assistance during the data analysis.
The authors have declared that no conflict of interest exists.