Procrastination Automatic Thoughts as a Personality Construct: An Analysis of the Procrastinatory Cognitions Inventory

  • Gordon L. FlettEmail author
  • Murray Stainton
  • Paul L. Hewitt
  • Simon B. Sherry
  • Clarry Lay
Original Article


The present paper examines the nature of procrastination-related automatic thoughts by examining the correlates of the Procrastinatory Cognitions Inventory (PCI). The PCI was administered along with numerous other measures to three samples of students (two undergraduate samples and one graduate student sample). Analyses confirmed that the PCI is associated with elevated levels of neuroticism and low levels of conscientiousness but is a unique predictor of distress over and above the variance attributable to these broad personality traits. The PCI was associated significantly with negative automatic thoughts in general as well as automatic thoughts reflecting the need to be perfect. Tests of achievement goal orientation showed that students with high scores on the PCI are focused on performance avoidance goals. Elevated levels of procrastinatory cognitions among graduate students were associated with apprehension about writing, graduate student stress, low self-actualization, and feelings of being an impostor. Overall, the findings suggest that the experience of frequent procrastination-related thoughts contributes uniquely to increased levels of psychological distress and stress. Our findings point to the potential utility of incorporating an emphasis on procrastination cognitions when conducting assessments and when implementing cognitive-behavioral interventions focused on procrastination-related themes.


Procrastination Perfectionism Cognitions Automatic thoughts Depression Anxiety 



This research was supported by a grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada awarded to the first and third authors. Gordon Flett was supported by a Canada Research Chair in Personality and Health. We thank Lisa-Marie Coulter for her assistance with the data analyses.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gordon L. Flett
    • 1
    Email author
  • Murray Stainton
    • 1
  • Paul L. Hewitt
    • 2
  • Simon B. Sherry
    • 3
  • Clarry Lay
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyYork UniversityTorontoCanada
  2. 2.University of British ColumbiaVancouverCanada
  3. 3.Dalhousie UniversityHalifaxCanada

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