Procrastination Genetically Linked to Impulsivity


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Even with the constant connection that humans now have with each other through the internet, procrastination can still be a problem. Now new research is showing that procrastination may share an evolutionary like to another common human trait - impulsivity.

The study, published in the journal Psychological Science, shows that these two traits are genetically linked. The study's authors suggest that this may have something to do with the relationship between procrastination, impulsivity, productivity.

"Everyone procrastinates at least sometimes, but we wanted to explore why some people procrastinate more than others and why procrastinators seem more likely to make rash actions and act without thinking," said Daniel Gustavson, lead author of the study and a psychology researcher at the University of Colorado. "Answering why that's the case would give us some interesting insights into what procrastination is, why it occurs, and how to minimize it."

Gustavson and his colleagues looked at over 300 pairs of identical and fraternal twins. Through surveys the researchers found that procrastination is a genetically inheritable trait and that it there appears to be no genetic influence that separates it from impulsivity. They also found that these two traits have at least some genetic overlap with the ability to stay on-goal and complete tasks.

The study's authors believe that this suggests procrastination is actually an evolutionary byproduct of impulsivity. It could also be that procrastination is actually a manifestation of impulsivity in the modern world, where people have many long-term goals to prepare for.

The idea is that impulsive people in today's world exhibit more procrastination and that these two traits lead to those same people often not completing their goals.

"Learning more about the underpinnings of procrastination may help develop interventions to prevent it, and help us overcome our ingrained tendencies to get distracted and lose track of work," said Gustavson.

The study's authors say that they are now looking at how procrastination and impulsivity may be genetically linked to other high-level cognative abilities and self-regulation.