Doing the things we do: A grounded theory of academic procrastination

Gregory Schraw, Theresa Wadkins, Lori Olafson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

266 Scopus citations


The authors conducted a grounded theory study of academic procrastination to explore adaptive and maladaptive aspects of procrastination and to help guide future empirical research. They discuss previous research on the definition and dimensionality of procrastination and describe the study in which interview data were collected in 4 stages, identifying 33 initial categories and 29 macrothemes. Findings were validated by member checks. The authors describe in detail informants' perceptions of procrastination, which were used to construct a 5-component paradigm model that includes adaptive (i.e., cognitive efficiency, peak experience) and maladaptive (i.e., fear of failure, postponement) dimensions of procrastination. These dimensions, in turn, are related to conditions that affect the amount and type of procrastination, as well as cognitive (i.e., prioritizing, optimization) and affective (i.e., reframing, self-handicapping) coping mechanisms. The authors propose 6 general principles and relate them and the paradigm model to previous research. Limitations of the research are discussed, as well as implications for future theory development and validation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)12-25
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Educational Psychology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2007


  • Adaptive and maladaptive strategies
  • Paradigm model
  • Procrastination

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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