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Procrastination and health: A longitudinal test of the roles of stress and health behaviours

Sirois, Fuschia M.; Stride, Christopher B.; Pychyl, Timothy A.

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Christopher B. Stride

Timothy A. Pychyl


Objectives Procrastination is a common form of self-regulation failure that a growing evidence base suggests can confer risk for poor health outcomes, especially when it becomes habitual. However, the proposed linkages of chronic procrastination to health outcomes have not been tested over time or accounted for the contributions of higher-order personality factors linked to both chronic procrastination and health-related outcomes. We addressed these issues by examining the role of chronic procrastination in health outcomes over time in which the hypothesized links of procrastination to health problems operate via stress and health behaviours. Design Three-wave longitudinal study with 1-month intervals. Methods Participants (N = 379) completed measures of trait procrastination at Time 1, and measures of health behaviours, stress and health problems at each time point, in a lab setting. Results Procrastination and the health variables were inter-related in the expected directions across the three assessments. Chronic procrastination was positively associated with stress and negatively with health behaviours at each time point. Path analysis testing a cross-lagged longitudinal mediation model found an indirect relationship operating between procrastination and health problems via stress, after accounting for the contributions of conscientiousness and neuroticism. Conclusions This research extends previous work by demonstrating that the links between chronic procrastination and poor health are accounted for mainly by higher stress, after accounting for other key traits, and that these associations are robust over time. The findings are discussed in terms of the importance of addressing habitual self-regulation failure for improving health.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Mar 1, 2023
Online Publication Date Mar 15, 2023
Publication Date 2023-09
Deposit Date Apr 20, 2023
Publicly Available Date Apr 20, 2023
Journal British Journal of Health Psychology
Print ISSN 1359-107X
Electronic ISSN 2044-8287
Publisher Wiley
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 28
Issue 3
Pages 860-875
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Published Journal Article (322 Kb)

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Copyright Statement
© 2023 The Authors. British Journal of Health Psychology published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of British Psychological Society.

This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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