Current Psychology

, Volume 37, Issue 2, pp 426–431 | Cite as

Delaying Disposing: Examining the Relationship between Procrastination and Clutter across Generations

  • Joseph R. Ferrari
  • Catherine A. RosterEmail author


We explored how two types of procrastination (indecision and behavioral), contribute to problems with clutter across three adult U.S. samples differing as generational cohorts. An online survey was administered to college students (mean age = 21) and younger adults recruited using Amazon’s Mechanical Turk (MTurk; mean age = 31), plus older adults recruited with help from the Institute for Challenging Disorganization (mean age = 54) ( Hierarchical linear regression revealed that behavioral procrastination contributed significantly to an increasingly larger percentage of explained variance in clutter problems across the generational cohorts in a series of separate analyses. The addition of indecision as a variable led to a significant incremental increase in explained variance for the younger and older adult samples, but not for the student sample. Clutter problems led to a significant decrease in satisfaction with life among older adults. Findings suggest that general procrastination tendencies may enable a lifelong pattern of responses to one’s environment that become increasingly maladaptive throughout the life cycle - simultaneously delaying disposal decisions.


Procrastination Clutter Indecision Disposition Well-being 



The authors thank the Institute for Challenging Disorganization (ICD) for their assistance with data collection for the older adult population in this study.


This study was NOT funded by any grant.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

Conflict of Interest

JR Ferrari declares that he has no conflict of interest. C Roster declares that she has no conflict of interest.


  1. Belk, R. W., Seo, J. Y., & Li, E. (2007). Dirty little secret: home chaos and professional organizers. Consumption, Markets and Culture, 10(2), 133–140.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Csikszentmihalyi, M., & Rochberg-Halton, E. (1981). The meaning of things. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Diener, E., Emmons, R. A., Larsen, R. J., & Griffin, S. (1985). The satisfaction with life scale. Journal of Personality Assessment, 49, 71–75.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  4. Ferrari, J. R. (1998). Procrastination. In H. Friedman (Ed.), Encyclopedia of mental health (Vol. 3, pp. 281–287). San Diego: Academic.Google Scholar
  5. Ferrari, J. R. (2010). Still procrastinating? The no regrets guide to getting it done. New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  6. Ferrari, J. R., & Dovidio, J. F. (2001). Behavioral information search by indecisives. Personality and Individual Differences, 30(7), 1113–1123.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Ferrari, J. R., & McCown, W. (1994). Procrastination tendencies among obsessive-compulsives and their relatives. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 50(2), 162–167.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. Ferrari, J. R., & Tibbett, T. P. (2017). Procrastination. In V. Zeigler-Hill & T. K. Shackelford (Eds.), Encyclopedia of personality and individual differences. New York: Springer International Publishing.Google Scholar
  9. Ferrari, J. R., Johnson, J. L., & McCown, W. G. (Eds.). (1995). Procrastination and task avoidance: theory, research, and treatment. New York: Plenum Press.Google Scholar
  10. Frost, R. O., & Hartl, T. L. (1996). A cognitive-behavioral model of compulsive hoarding. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 34(4), 341–350.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  11. Frost, R. O., & Shows, D. (1993). The nature and measurement of compulsive indecisiveness. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 31(7), 683–692.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. Frost, R. O., Kyrios, M., McCarthy, K., & Matthews, Y. (2007). Self-ambivalence and attachment to possessions. Journal of Cognitive Psychotherapy, 21(3), 232–242.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Frost, R. O., Steketee, G., & Tolin, D. F. (2012). Diagnosis and assessment of hoarding disorder. Annual Review of Clinical Psychology, 8, 219–242.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  14. Goodman, J. K., & Paolacci, G. (2017). Crowdsourcing consumer research. Journal of Consumer Research, 44(1), 196–210.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Haws, K. L., Naylor, R. W., Coulter, R. A., & Bearden, W. O. (2012). Keeping it all without being buried alive: understanding product retention tendency. Journal of Consumer Psychology, 22, 224–236.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Hirschman, E. C., Ruvio, A., & Belk, R. W. (2012). Exploring space and place in marketing research: excavating the garage. Marketing Theory, 12(4), 369–389.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Jacoby, J., Berning, C. K., & Dietvorst, T. F. (1977). What about disposition? Journal of Marketing, 41(April), 22–28.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Kamptner, N. L. (1991). Personal possessions and their meanings: a life-span perspective. Journal of Social Behavior and Personality, 6(6), 209–228.Google Scholar
  19. Karanika, K., & Hogg, M. K. (2013). Trajectories across the lifespan of possession-self relationships. Journal of Business Research, 66, 910–916.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Kleine, S. S., Kleine III, R. E., & Allen, C. T. (1995). How is a possession ‘me’ or ‘not me’? Characterizing types and an antecedent of material possession attachment. Journal of Consumer Research, 22(December), 327–343.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Klingsieck, K. (2013). Procrastination in different life-domains: is procrastination domain specific? Current Psychology, 32, 175–185.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Mann, L. (1982). Decision-making questionnaire. Unpublished inventory (available in Ferrari et al., 1995). Australia: Flinders University of South Australia.Google Scholar
  23. McCown, W., & Johnson, J. (1989). Validation of an adult inventory of procrastination. Paper presented at the Society for Personality Assessment, New York.Google Scholar
  24. Pychyl, T. A., Lee, J. M., Thibodeau, R., & Blunt, A. (2000). Five days of emotion: an experience sampling study of undergraduate student procrastination. Journal of Social Behavior and Personality, 15, 239–254.Google Scholar
  25. Roster, C. A. (2001). Letting go: the process and meaning of dispossession in the lives of consumers. In M. C. Gilly & J. Meyers-Levy (Eds.), Advances in consumer research, 28 (pp. 425–430). Valdosta: Association for Consumer Research.Google Scholar
  26. Roster, C. A. (2015). “Help, I have too much stuff!”: extreme possession attachment and professional organizers. Journal of Consumer Affairs, 49(2), 303–327.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Roster, C. A., Ferrari, J. R., & Jurkat, M. P. (2016). The dark side of home: assessing possession ‘clutter’ on subjective well-being. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 46, 32–41.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. 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.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Tibbett, T. P., & Ferrari, J. R. (2015). The portrait of the procrastinator: risk factors and results of an indecisive personality. Personality and Individual Differences, 82, 175–184.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Tice, M., & Baumeister, R. F. (1997). Longitudinal study of procrastination, performance, stress, and health: the costs and benefits of dawdling. Psychological Science, 8(6), 454–458.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Wolters, C. A. (2003). Understanding procrastination from a self-regulated learning perspective. Journal of Educational Psychology, 95(1), 179–187.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Young, M. M., & Wallendorf, M. (1989). Ashes to ashes, dust to dust: conceptualizing consumer disposition of possessions. In T. Childers (Ed.), Proceedings of the AMA winter Educator’s conference (pp. 33–39). Chicago: American Marketing Association.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.DePaul UniversityChicagoUSA
  2. 2.University of New Mexico, Anderson School of ManagementAlbuquerqueUSA

Personalised recommendations