The Contribution of Metacognitions and Attentional Control to Decisional Procrastination

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.

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Acknowledgments

Author B.F. receives salary support from the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Mental Health Biomedical Research Centre and Dementia Research Unit at South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust and King’s College London. The views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of the NHS, the NIHR or the Department of Health.

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Correspondence to Marcantonio M. Spada.

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Fernie, B.A., McKenzie, A., Nikčević, A.V. et al. The Contribution of Metacognitions and Attentional Control to Decisional Procrastination. J Rat-Emo Cognitive-Behav Ther 34, 1–13 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10942-015-0222-y

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Keywords

  • Attentional control
  • Metacognitions
  • Procrastination