Procrastination and the Priority of Short-Term Mood Regulation: Consequences for Future Self



Procrastination is a common and pervasive problem associated with a range of negative outcomes across a variety of life domains that often occurs when people are faced with tasks that are seen as aversive. In this paper, we argue that as a form of self-regulation failure, procrastination has a great deal to do with short-term mood repair and emotion regulation. Moreover, we contend that a temporal understanding of self and the mood-regulating processes involved in goal pursuit is particularly important in understanding procrastination, because the consequences of procrastination are typically borne by the future self. After summarizing the research on the priority of short-term mood regulation in procrastination, we then draw the connection between the focus on short-term mood repair and the temporal disjunction between present and future selves. We present research that exemplifies these intra-personal processes in understanding temporal notions of self characterized by procrastination, and then link these processes to the negative consequences of procrastination for health and well-being. We conclude with a discussion of possible avenues for future research to provide further insights into how temporal views of the self are linked to the dynamics of mood regulation over time in the context of procrastination.