Procrastination or deliberately delaying tasks is a self-regulated behavior that can have both positive and negative effects. Some research suggests procrastination has roots in motivation while others argue perfectionism, fear of failure, or fear of success to be causes, but the nature of procrastinatory behavior is still being actively studied.
Keeping in mind that fear of failure may be closely related to some of the other dimensions of procrastination such as perfectionism and self-efficacy, this literature review seeks to find out what the relationship is between procrastination and fear of failure. Perfectionism, whether self-oriented or socially prescribed is suggested to influence such behavior in this capacity. People with perfectionist tendencies generally strive to meet high and often unrealistic expectations in an effort to avoid failure (Onwuegbuzie, 2000). When cognitive demands become overwhelming for these and other individuals, anxiety may form resulting in postponement of certain tasks. Blame may then be placed on time constraints or other obstructive forces instead of their own failure to adequately complete desired tasks (Ginestet, 2005).An early study performed on the components of perfectionism and procrastination in college students (Blankstein, Hewitt, Koledin, & Flett, 1992) analyzed procrastination tendencies on a number of dimensions including general, academic, self-oriented, and socially prescribed, influences. In addition to finding significant correlations between socially prescribed procrastination and generalized and academic procrastination, they discovered that fear of failure in regards to procrastination was largely related to all dimensions of perfectionism.
Some earlier research, however, provides us with conflicting information, suggesting that the fear of failure may just be one of many factors, if at all, simultaneously influencing procrastinating behavior in college students (Shouwenburg,1992).Many students indicated that fear of failure was not at all a factor in their procrastinating tendencies, and on the whole, the study concluded that procrastination and fear of failure were unrelated, but that “ trait procrastination and fear of failure may interact and result in increased levels of actual procrastinatory behavior” (Shouwenburg, 1992, p. 225). Another early study with similar findings conducted by Rothblum, Solomon, and Murakami (1986) examined procrastinatory behavior in college students on dimensions including a subscale of fear of failure, which consisted of related items such as anxiety, perfectionism, task aversiveness, and low self-esteem. Although interactions between gender and procrastination were present, there were no other significant effects between procrastination and fear of failure (Rothblum, et al., 1986).
A more recent study by Ferrari and Davidio (2001) suggests that self-regulation of failure in performance of chronic procrastinators may exist when initiating tasks during high cognitive demands.A meta-analysis and theoretical review orchestrated by Steel (2007) also looked into the aspect of self-regulatory failure in procrastination, finding strong correlations between procrastination and self-efficacy and task aversiveness. Related findings by Azure (2010) in a canonical correlation analysis of course anxiety and academic procrastination in higher education show that academic procrastination resulting from fear of failure and task aversiveness produced strong correlations on dimensions of academic anxiety such as interpretation anxiety and self-concept. These findings are consistent with much of Ferrari’s research (2001) supporting the idea that chronic procrastinating behavior is associated with low self-confidence and task performance anxiety.
Humanistic theorists support the idea that we are all programmed to develop and realize our growth potential (Gerrig & Zimbardo, 2008). By this standard, then, we all might have some degree of innate drive to perform well and succeed. Anxiety or beliefs about our own abilities can interfere with our performance and/or motivation to perform, often to the degree that we engage in coping behavior such as procrastination. This fear of failing to live up to expectations, either personal or societal is likely to play some role in procrastinatory behavior. An overwhelming amount of evidence exists suggesting there is some relationship between procrastination and fear of failure, and while this cognition is certainly not the only cause of procrastinatory behavior, it and related tendencies towards perfectionism may well likely provoke it.
Azure, J. (2011). Correlates of course anxiety and academic procrastination in higher education. Global Journal of Educational Research, 10(1), 55-65. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/892728718?accountid=34899Blankstein, K. L., Hewitt, P. L., Koledin, S., Flett, G. L., & (1992). Components of perfectionism and procrastination in college students. Social Behavior & Personality: An International Journal, 20(2), 85-94. Ferrari, J. R. (2001). Procrastination as self-regulation failure of performance: Effects of cognitive load, self-awareness, and time limits on ‘working best under pressure’. European Journal Of Personality, 15(5), 391-406.Gerrig, Richard J., Zimbardo, Philip G. (2008). Psychology and Life (18th Ed.). (p. 433). Pearson Education, Inc.Ginestet, C. (2005). The unbearable lightness of procrastination. Psychologist, 18(8), 480-482. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/211828001?accounid=34899Onwuegbuzie, A. J. (2000). Academic procrastinators and perfectionistic tendencies among graduate students, Journal of Social Behavior and Personality, 15, 103-109. Rothblum, E. D., Solomon, L. J., & Murakami, J. (1986). Affective, cognitive, and behavioral differences between high and low procrastinators. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 33(4), 387-394. doi:10.1037/0022-0184.108.40.2067Schouwenburg, H. C. (1992). Procrastinators and fear of failure: an exploration of reasons for procrastination. European Journal Of Personality, 6(3), 225-236Steel, P. (2007). The nature of procrastination: A meta-analytic and theoretical review of quintessential self-regulatory failure. Psychological Bulletin, 133(1), 65-94. doi:10.1037/0033-2909.133.1.65
M7 A2 Psy492 Lit Review
ProcrastinationThe Relationship between Procrastination andFear of Failure
Roots of ProcrastinationPerfectionismFear of FailureSelf-efficacySocially Prescribed ExpectationsHigh Cognitive DemandsTask Performance AnxietyLaziness
Early Conflicting FindingsProcrastination and fear of failure are shown tobe unrelated.Fear of failure may be one out of manyconcurrent factors in procrastination.Fear of failure may occur as a result ofprocrastination.
Recent Supporting Evidence Self-regulation of failure in chronic procrastinators has been found to exist during times of high cognitive load. Self-regulation of failure in procrastination has shown to correlate substantially with self-efficacy and task aversiveness. Academic procrastination resulting from fear of failure has strong correlations with academic anxiety and self-confidence.
Final ThoughtsFear of failing to meet personal and external demands can be a cognitive burden which may trigger anxiety that can manifest itself in a number of coping behaviors such as procrastination.