Relationships Among Academic Procrastination, Psychological Flexibility, and Delay Discounting

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Academic procrastination is prevalent and associated with negative outcomes such as lower grades and worse physical and mental health. This study explored whether lower psychological flexibility and steeper delay discounting are associated with procrastination, separately and in combination. Psychological flexibility is an individual’s ability to tolerate internal experiences to act in accordance with their values, based on what the present situation affords. Delay discounting is a loss in reinforcer value as a function of delay. Students (N = 139) completed self-report measures of psychological flexibility and academic procrastination, and tasks that measured delay discounting in (a) a hypothetical delay paradigm and (b) an experiential waiting paradigm. The only measures significantly correlated were psychological flexibility and procrastination (a negative correlation), suggesting that psychological inflexibility may contribute to procrastination. Neither measure of delay discounting moderated this relationship, however. These results suggest that ACT therapists might explore approaches to increase psychological flexibility in order to reduce procrastination and enhance students’ wellbeing.

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