The Contribution of Metacognitions and Attentional Control to Decisional Procrastination

  • Bruce A. Fernie
  • Ann-Marie McKenzie
  • Ana V. Nikčević
  • Gabriele Caselli
  • Marcantonio M. Spada
Article

Abstract

Earlier research has implicated metacognitions and attentional control in procrastination and self-regulatory failure. This study tested several hypotheses: (1) that metacognitions would be positively correlated with decisional procrastination; (2) that attentional control would be negatively correlated with decisional procrastination; (3) that metacognitions would be negatively correlated with attentional control; and (4) that metacognitions and attentional control would predict decisional procrastination when controlling for negative affect. One hundred and twenty-nine participants completed the Depression Anxiety Stress Scale 21, the Meta-Cognitions Questionnaire 30, the Attentional Control Scale, and the Decisional Procrastination Scale. Significant relationships were found between all three attentional control factors (focusing, shifting, and flexible control of thought) and two metacognitions factors (negative beliefs concerning thoughts about uncontrollability and danger, and cognitive confidence). Results also revealed that decisional procrastination was significantly associated with negative affect, all measured metacognitions factors, and all attentional control factors. In the final step of a hierarchical regression analysis only stress, cognitive confidence, and attention shifting were independent predictors of decisional procrastination. Overall these findings support the hypotheses and are consistent with the Self-Regulatory Executive Function model of psychological dysfunction. The implications of these findings are discussed.

Keywords

Attentional control Metacognitions Procrastination 

References

  1. Baumeister, R. F., & Heatherton, T. F. (1996). Self-regulation failure: An overview. Psychological Inquiry, 7, 1–15.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Baumeister, R. F., Heatherton, T. F., & Tice, D. M. (1994). Losing control: How and why people fail at self-regulation. London: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  3. Beswick, G., Rothblum, E. D., & Mann, L. (1988). Psychological antecedents of student procrastination. Australian Psychologist, 23, 207–217.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Blunt, A. K., & Pychyl, T. A. (2000). Task aversiveness and procrastination: A multi-dimensional approach to task aversiveness across stages of personal projects. Personality and Individual Differences, 28, 153–167.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Burka, J. B., & Yuen, L. M. (2008). Procrastination: Why you do it, what to do about it now. Boston, MA: Da Capo Press.Google Scholar
  6. Crawford, J. R., & Henry, J. D. (2003). The Depression Anxiety Stress Scales (DASS): Normative data and latent structure in a large non-clinical sample. British Journal of Clinical Psychology, 42, 111–131.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  7. Derryberry, D., & Reed, M. A. (2002). Anxiety-related attentional biases and their regulation by attentional control. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 111, 225.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. DiGiuseppe, R., Doyle, K. A., Dryden, W., & Backx, W. (2014). A practioner’s Guide to rational emotive behavior therapy. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  9. Effert, B. R., & Ferrari, J. R. (1989). Decisional procrastination: Examining personality correlates. Journal of Social Behavior & Personality, 4, 151–161.Google Scholar
  10. Ellis, A., & Dryden, W. (1997). The practice of rational emotive behavior therapy (2nd ed.). New York: Springer.Google Scholar
  11. Ellis, A., & Knaus, W. J. (1977). Overcoming procrastination: Or how to think and act rationally in spite of life’s inevitable hassles. New York, NY: Institute for Rational Living.Google Scholar
  12. Fernie, B. A., & Spada, M. M. (2008). Metacognitions about procrastination: A preliminary investigation. Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapy, 36, 359–364.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Fernie, B. A., Spada, M. M., Nikčević, A. V., Georgiou, G. A., & Moneta, G. B. (2009). Metacognitive beliefs about procrastination: Development and concurrent validity of a self-report questionnaire. Journal of Cognitive Psychotherapy, 23, 283–293.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Ferrari, J. R. (1994). Dysfunctional procrastination and its relationship with self-esteem, interpersonal dependency, and self-defeating behaviors. Personality and Individual Differences, 17, 673–679.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Ferrari, J. R. (2000). Procrastination and attention: Factor analysis of attention deficit, boredomness, intelligence, self-esteem, and task delay frequencies. Journal of Social Behavior & Personality, 15, 185–196.Google Scholar
  16. 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, 391–406.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Ferrari, J. R., & Scher, S. J. (2000). Toward an understanding of academic and nonacademic tasks procrastinated by students: The use of daily logs. Psychology in the Schools, 37, 359–366.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Flett, G. L., Stainton, M., Hewitt, P. L., Sherry, S. B., & Lay, C. (2012). Procrastination automatic thoughts as a personality construct: An analysis of the procrastinatory cognitions inventory. Journal of Rational-Emotive & Cognitive-Behavior Therapy, 30, 223–236.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Haghbin, M., McCaffrey, A., & Pychyl, T. A. (2012). The complexity of the relation between fear of failure and procrastination. Journal of Rational-Emotive & Cognitive-Behavior Therapy, 30, 249–263.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Harriott, J., & Ferrari, J. R. (1996). Prevalence of procrastination among samples of adults. Psychological Reports, 78, 611–616.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Haycock, L. A., McCarthy, P., & Skay, C. L. (1998). Procrastination in college students: The role of self-efficacy and anxiety. Journal of Counseling & Development, 76, 317–324.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Ingram, R. E. (1990). Self-focused attention in clinical disorders: Review and a conceptual model. Psychological Bulletin, 107, 156.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  23. Judah, M. R., Grant, D. M., Mills, A. C., & Lechner, W. V. (2014). Factor structure and validation of the attentional control scale. Cognition and Emotion, 28, 433–451.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  24. Lovibond, P. F., & Lovibond, S. H. (1995). The structure of negative emotional states: Comparison of the Depression Anxiety Stress Scales (DASS) with the Beck Depression and Anxiety Inventories. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 33, 335–343.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  25. Mann, L. (1982). Decision-making questionnaire. Unpublished scale. Flinders University of South Australia.Google Scholar
  26. Mathews, A., Yiend, J., & Lawrence, A. D. (2004). Individual differences in the modulation of fear-related brain activation by attentional control. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 16, 1683–1694.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  27. McCown, B., Blake, I. K., & Keiser, R. (2012). Content analyses of the beliefs of academic procrastinators. Journal of Rational-Emotive & Cognitive-Behavior Therapy, 30, 213–222.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Normann, N., van Emmerik, A. A., & Morina, N. (2014). The efficacy of metacognitive therapy for anxiety and depression: A meta-analytic review. Depression and Anxiety, 31, 402–411.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  29. Page, A. C., Hooke, G. R., & Morrison, D. L. (2007). Psychometric properties of the Depression Anxiety Stress Scales (DASS) in depressed clinical samples. British Journal of Clinical Psychology, 46, 283–297.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  30. Rabin, L. A., Fogel, J., & Nutter-Upham, K. E. (2011). Academic procrastination in college students: The role of self-reported executive function. Journal of Clinical and Experimental Neuropsychology, 33, 344–357.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  31. Rozental, A., Andersson, G., & Carlbring, P. (2014). Randomized controlled trial of internet-based cognitive behavior therapy for procrastination. Paper presented at the EABCT 2014: 44th congress of the European association for behavioural & cognitive therapies, September 10–13, 2014, The Netherlands: The Hague.Google Scholar
  32. Rozental, A., & Carlbring, P. (2013). Internet-based cognitive behavior therapy for procrastination: Study protocol for a randomized controlled trial. JMIR Research Protocols, 2(2), e46.PubMedCentralCrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  33. Senecal, C., Koestner, R., & Vallerand, R. J. (1995). Self-regulation and academic procrastination. Journal of Social Psychology, 135, 607–619.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Sinclair, S. J., Siefert, C. J., Slavin-Mulford, J. M., Stein, M. B., Renna, M., & Blais, M. A. (2012). Psychometric evaluation and normative data for the depression, anxiety, and stress scales-21 (DASS-21) in a nonclinical sample of US adults. Evaluation and the Health Professions, 35, 259–279.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  35. Sirois, F., & Pychyl, T. (2013). Procrastination and the priority of short-term mood regulation: Consequences for future self. Social and Personality Psychology Compass, 7, 115–127.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Solomon, L. J., & Rothblum, E. D. (1984). Academic procrastination—Frequency and cognitive-behavioral correlates. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 31(4), 503–509.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Spada, M. M., Georgiou, G. A., & Wells, A. (2010). The relationship among metacognitions, attentional control, and state anxiety. Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, 39, 64–71.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  38. Spada, M. M., Hiou, K., & Nikcevic, A. V. (2006). Metacognitions, emotions, and procrastination. Journal of Cognitive Psychotherapy, 20, 319–326.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Spada, M. M., Mohiyeddini, C., & Wells, A. (2008). Measuring metacognitions associated with emotional distress: Factor structure and predictive validity of the metacognitions questionnaire 30. Personality and Individual Differences, 45, 238–242.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Steel, P. (2007). The nature of procrastination: A meta-analytic and theoretical review of quintessential self-regulatory failure. Psychological Bulletin, 133, 65.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  41. Stöber, J., & Joormann, J. (2001). Worry, procrastination, and perfectionism: Differentiating amount of worry, pathological worry, anxiety, and depression. Cognitive Therapy and Research, 25, 49–60.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Van Eerde, W. (2003). A meta-analytically derived nomological network of procrastination. Personality and Individual Differences, 35, 1401–1418.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Vodanovich, S. J., & Rupp, D. E. (1999). Are procrastinators prone to boredom? Social Behavior and Personality: An International Journal, 27, 11–16.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Vytal, K., Cornwell, B., Arkin, N., & Grillon, C. (2012). Describing the interplay between anxiety and cognition: From impaired performance under low cognitive load to reduced anxiety under high load. Psychophysiology, 49, 842–852.PubMedCentralCrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  45. Wells, A. (2002). Emotional disorders and metacognition: Innovative cognitive therapy. New York, NY: Wiley.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Wells, A. (2011). Metacognitive therapy for anxiety and depression. New York, NY: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  47. Wells, A. (2013). Advances in metacognitive therapy. International Journal of Cognitive Therapy, 6, 186–201.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Wells, A., & Cartwright-Hatton, S. (2004). A short form of the metacognitions questionnaire: Properties of the MCQ-30. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 42, 385–396.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  49. Wells, A., & Matthews, G. (1994). Attention and emotion: A clinical perspective. New York, NY: Psychology Press.Google Scholar
  50. Wells, A., & Matthews, G. (1996). Modelling cognition in emotional disorder: The S-REF model. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 34, 881–888.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bruce A. Fernie
    • 1
    • 2
  • Ann-Marie McKenzie
    • 3
  • Ana V. Nikčević
    • 4
  • Gabriele Caselli
    • 3
    • 5
    • 6
  • Marcantonio M. Spada
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Psychology, Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and NeuroscienceKing’s College LondonLondonUK
  2. 2.CascaidSouth London and Maudsley NHS Foundation TrustLondonUK
  3. 3.Division of Psychology, School of Applied SciencesLondon South Bank UniversityLondonUK
  4. 4.Department of PsychologyKingston UniversityKingston upon ThamesUK
  5. 5.Studi CognitiviMilanItaly
  6. 6.Sigmund Freud UniversityMilanoItaly

Personalised recommendations