Are you genetically predisposed to procrastinate?


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Do you find yourself putting off work? Do you tell yourself “I’ll do it later/tomorrow?”

Well, a twin-study recently published by Daniel E. Gustavson and his team in The Journal of Experimental Psychology has suggested that there may be a genetic element to procrastinating behaviours.

They carried out self-reported questionnaire regarding their propensity for procrastination with 386 twins, out of which 206 were identical twins. A behavioural genetics method was used to identify any links between procrastination and executive function (EF), which can be simply described as a sort of mental discipline.

By comparing between the groups of identical and non-identical twins, the researchers have shown that the tendency to procrastinate could due to a 28 percent chance in genetic inheritance. This was further compounded by the fact that the genes which influence procrastination were further responsible for goal failures. A further 28 percent were found to be influenced by the environment, and the environmental factor was found to have a stronger link on procrastination.

It’s not all doom and gloom. The researchers also found that procrastinators tended to exhibit a mental flexibility which they call the “butterfly mind”. Although this trait made it difficult to focus, it also gave the procrastinators the ability to shift mind-sets a lot quicker.

However, the authors warned that they are a long way off from identifying the gene sets that are responsible for procrastination and goal management since there are likely to be thousands of possible variations that may be influenced by personality or intelligence.

2 replies

  1. I’ve been trying to fight a losing battle with procrastination all my life and tried pretty much everything I could from psychologists to antidepressants, self help books etc. The only thing that seems to be helping is procrastination bulldozer method.


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