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Sex, Education and Procrastination: An Epidemiological Study of Procrastinators' Characteristics from a Global Sample


Correspondence to: Piers Steel, Human Resources and Organizational Dynamics, University of Calgary, SH444-2500 University Drive N.W., Calgary, Alberta T2N 1N4, Canada.



Procrastination is a common form of self-regulatory failure with substantive connections to lower levels of health, wealth and well-being. Conducting an epidemiological study, we determined the characteristics of prototypical procrastinators from a global sample based on several relevant self-reported demographic variables. Using an internet sampling strategy, we surveyed 16 413 English-speaking adults (58.3% women; 41.7% men: M age = 38.3 years, SD = 14), specifically on the variables of sex, age, marital status, family size, education, community location, and national origin. Almost all the results were statistically significant because of our large sample size. However, procrastination tendencies were most prominently associated with sex, age, marital status, education and nationality. Procrastinators tended to be young, single men with less education, residing in countries with lower levels of self-discipline. Notably, procrastination mediated the relationship between sex and education, providing further support that men are lagging behind women academically because of lower self-regulatory skills. Given procrastination's connection with a variety of societal ailments (e.g. excessive debt, delayed medical treatment), identifying risk factors and at risk populations should be helpful for directing preventative public policy. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.