Why we procrastinate: scientists have studied negative thinking

Self-control is everythingHave you ever felt an overwhelming urge to push a task further down your to-do list? It turns out that procrastination isn't just laziness. New research indicates a strong connection between a negative attitude towards a task and our tendency to procrastinate. DiscussWhy are we stalling for time: scientists have studied negative thinking© Ferra.ru/Kandinsky 3

The study, published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences, examines the concept of “valence-weighted bias.” It describes how people weigh positive and negative feelings when making decisions. People with a more negative bias tend to be more influenced by negativity, which makes unpleasant tasks seem worse and leads to procrastination.

The research team conducted a series of studies to test this theory. In one, participants reported their tax filing habits and took a test that measured their tendency to weigh pros and cons. The results showed a clear connection: Those with more negative biases tended to file later.

Another study looked at college students who participated in a research program for credit. Here, the researchers also took self-control into account. Students with negative biases and low self-motivation were more likely to procrastinate on research assignments. However, those with higher self-control were able to overcome their negative biases and get to work earlier.

These results provide new insight into the problem of procrastination. It's not just about laziness, but also about how we process emotions. Good news? We can learn to manage our biases. By focusing on the positive aspects of a task and actively developing self-control, we can overcome the power of negativity and finally deal with those “horrible things.”