Increasing Emotion Regulation Skills in Order to Overcome Procrastination

Increasing Emotion Regulation Skills in Order to Overcome Procrastination

Durch Steigerung der Emotionsregulationskompetenzen Prokrastination reduzieren

  • Postponing or avoiding intended or relevant tasks is a widespread phenomenon that can lead to various disadvantages or problems. About half of the students and between 15 % and 20 % of the general population report to suffer from procrastination seriously and chronically. Previous research has shown that, first, aversive emotions amplify the tendency to postpone and that, secondly, procrastination can be seen as a dysfunctional form of emotion regulation. To date, it has not been researched systematically whether the ability to cope with emotions adaptively reduces procrastination. The present publication-based dissertation aims to close this research gap. As procrastination has a negative impact on health behavior, the first study investigated whether the ability to cope adaptively with aversive emotions (emotional competence; moderator) moderates the relation between health-related intention (independent variable) and actual behavior (dependent variable). At the end of the first session of a stress management training, 119 teachers indicated how often they want to practice the mindfulness and relaxation exercise they just had learned in the following week (training intention). One week later their actual training behavior was gathered. The results of this study show that emotional competence that was recorded before the training moderated the relation between intention and behavior: The higher the emotional competence, the higher the correlation between training intention and training behavior. This can be regarded as an indicator that emotional competence has a reducing effect on procrastination. However, in this study only a specific behavior was observed. Yet, procrastination comprises a broad range of behavior. Thus, in three studies (study 2.1 - 2.3) combined as one publication the influence of emotional competences on procrastination was analyzed: In study 2.1 the cross-sectional relation between the nine subscales of the German version of the Emotion Regulation Skills Questionnaire and academic procrastination was determined with 172 students. All nine subscales were significantly correlated negatively with procrastination. However, in a regression analysis with these nine subscales on procrastination only the ability to tolerate aversive emotions proved to be a significant predictor. A subsequent mediation analysis showed that the relation of each subscale and procrastination was mediated by the ability to tolerate aversive emotions. In order to overcome the lacking causality of these cross-sectional results, study 2.2 tested the prospective influence of emotional competence on subsequent procrastination with 79 students by means of cross lagged panels. The results provide first indication of causality. Since causal connections can only be investigated with a randomized controlled trial, 83 participants were randomized to a training or a wait list control condition in study 2.3. The participants of the training condition learned emotion-focused strategies in order to deal with emotional aversive tasks. The results show a decrease in procrastination in the intervention group compared to the wait list control. In conclusion the results of studies 2.1 to 2.3 indicate that the reducing influence of emotional competence on procrastination can be interpreted causally. In study 3 (third publication) the efficacy of an online-based training to overcome procrastination that the author developed was evaluated. The emotion-focused strategies for coping with aversive tasks that were tested in study 2.3 had been integrated in the training. Regarding adherence that generally poses a challenge in online-based trainings and especially in people with procrastination problems, a daily SMS-support for the participants was implemented and evaluated. The efficacy and adherence was researched in a three-armed randomized controlled design (WLC vs. IG vs. IG + SMS) with 161 participants. The training caused a significant decrease in procrastination. The daily SMS-support seemed to enhance the efficacy (d = .29 only online; d = .57 online + SMS) and adherence. However, the effect of the SMS on adherence only became visible if participants that hardly trained or did not train at all were excluded. As a possible explanation it was considered that a minimum of training is necessary in order for the SMS to have an adherence enhancing effect. To rule out other plausible explanations further research is needed. A synopsis of all studies´ results suggests that, first, emotional competences have a reducing effect on procrastination, that, second, this can be deliberately promoted, and third, that the additional implementation of SMS-based support has an enhancing effect on adherence and increases the efficacy of an online-based intervention. The results are being discussed in regards to further research in the light of neuro-psychological findings concerning executive functions.

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Author:Marcus Eckert
Advisor:Bernhard Sieland (Prof. Dr.)
Document Type:Doctoral Thesis
Language:Multiple languages
Year of Completion:2016
Date of Publication (online):2017/03/20
Publishing Institution:Leuphana Universität Lüneburg
Granting Institution:Leuphana Universität Lüneburg, Bildung
Date of final exam:2017/02/25
Release Date:2017/03/20
Tag:Emotion regulation; Procrastination
GND Keyword:Gefühl; Regulation; Prokrastination <Psychologie>
Institutes:Fak 1 - Bildung, Kultur, Soziales (alt) / Psychologie
Dewey Decimal Classification:1 Philosophie und Psychologie / 15 Psychologie / 150 Psychologie