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Link between Personality Traits and Procrastination among University Students.

Byline: Masood Nadeem, Areeba Ather Malik and Fatima Javaid


Present research examined the effects of personality traits on procrastination and it also investigated that how personality traits play an integral role in the development of procrastination. It was assumed that different personality traits had its positive and negative impact on procrastination. The sample was selected by using two-way cluster sampling, included 254 students (74 males and 180 females) from The Islamia University of Bahawalpur. Tuckman Procrastinatio n Scale (Tuckman, 1991), HEXACO Personality Inventory-Revised (Ashton and Lee, 2009) were administered to the selected participants. Results pointed out positive relationship among honesty-humility, extraversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, openness to experience and procrastination, while emotionality has negative correlation with procrastination. Similarly it was indicated through multiple regression analysis that personality traits were stronger predictor of procrastination.

In sum, the present findings provide adequate understanding of the relationship of some positive and negative impact of personality traits on procrastination. The implications of the findings are discussed and recommendations are taken into consideration for future research.

Key words: Personality Traits, Procrastination, Two-way cluster sampling


Students instill a variety of experiences in academic settings that manipulate their perceptions and behavior over their academic performances. One of the most essential concerns in the field of educational psychology is to challenge to recognize why some students stop striving when faced with speculative and educational difficulties, whereas others rise to the occasion using tactics and diligence, thus attaining higher grades.

Nowadays, it is noticeable that many students easily give up on their life and accept failure leading to frustration thus affecting their self-regulation and decision-making and therefore, students' preferred behavioral styles such as procrastination. However, Personality traits such as emotional stability; extraversion or urgency, analytical and agreeableness can affect students' coping skills and ability to adapt them to the ever challenging university life while others may provoke them to adopt some of the negative strategies.

The present study aims at connecting some of the learning processes i.e., procrastination with personality traits of students particularly at the university level. Furthermore, it has been evaluated that how some factors can affect the performance of the university students. To understand the personality traits and its link with other variables, there is a need to have some conceptual framework about personality.

Personality is the mixture of mechanisms within the individual that are systematized and comparatively persistent and that affect his or her connections with, psychological traits and variations to the intra psychic social and physical environments (Larsen and Buss, 2005). It states to a set of primary traits that regulate how an individual naturally thinks, behaves and feels (McGeown et al., 2014). Hence it can be safely concluded that personality basically carries some unique attributes which make an individual differently from others. Some of them are discussed further.

Literally every definition of personality carries its own unique construct regarding the occurrences, but there is an abundance of traditional theories of personality that describes the phenomena more precisely, e.g., dispositional (trait) perspective, humanistic, psychodynamic behaviorist, biological, social learning and evolutionary perspective (Allport, 1973). As the present study focuses on the personality traits of an individual, so there is a need to explain trait theory specifically.

Trait theory (also called dispositions theory) is a kind of model to explain the human personality and is considered as the empirical justification of the present research. Trait theorists are predominantly concerned within the dimension of traits, which can be well-defined as customary patterns of behavior, thought, and emotion (Kassin, 2003). According to Gordon Allport (pioneer of trait theory), fundamental, central and secondary traits may dominate an individual behavior, customize and provide a complete picture of a person in certain circumstances respectively (Nicholson, 1998).

Personality traits can be generally defined as formal and customary arrangements of perception, behavior, and consequence. Personality traits are hypothesized as constant individual difference features clarifying an entity's or person's temperament to specific configurations of cognitions, emotions, and behavior (Hogan, Hogan, and Roberts, 1996).

Ashton and Lee (2008) have recently found a cross cultural evidence of personality construct, which is particularly statistical and lexical in nature, and amassed a six-dimensional structure of personality traits, known as HEXACO (i.e., Honesty-Humility, Emotionality, Extraversion, Agreeableness, Conscientiousness, and Openness to experience) (Aghababaei and Arji, 2013).

Many researches pointed out that personality is an essential resource of the individual which is not only interrelated with significant life consequences, i.e., mental, physical health, subjective well-being (Ozer and Benet-Martinez, 2006; Roberts, Kuncel, Shiner, Capsi, and Goldberg, 2007) but also has a vital and prominent part in describing academic attainment and success (Poropat, 2009). However, academic process at the high school level can play a central role in the growth of personality by giving different opportunities related to learning and other co-curricular activities that contour personality (Roberts, 2006; Bleidorn, 2012).

Another few researches also revealed some of the negative effects of personality on individual's academic achievement, i.e., neuroticism and conscientiousness are positively linked with procrastination which may lead to low grades (Watson, 2001; Lay, Kovacs, and Danto, 1998; Johnson and Bloom, 1995; Schouwenburg and Lay, 1995).

Similarly, some of the researchers also evaluated that extraversion increases the level of procrastination and there is a linear relationship between extraversion and procrastination (Johnson and Bloom, 1995; McCown, Petzel, and Rupert, 1987). While some other studies show the negative relationship between extraversion and procrastination, particularly in academic contexts (Lay, 1992; Wessman, 1973; Lay, 1986).

In many researches there is also a slight orientation of gender and age differences regarding the relationship of personality traits and some of its negative consequences, i.e., procrastination among students (Fleet, Stainton, Hewitt, Sherry, and Lay, 2012). According to researches, male are more vulnerable to procrastinate as compared to females, as women may owe more self-control (Else-Quest, Hyde, Goldsmith and van Hall, 2006; van Eerde, 2003).

Conclusively, one of the prevailing phenomenons that may affect the academic performance of university students is procrastination, and this phenomenon is highly linked with personality traits, in order to find out that how personality traits moderate or improve the level of procrastination. This study strives to locate this bidirectional relationship of personality traits and procrastination.

Theoretical Framework

There is a complex interaction of behavioral, psychodynamic and social influences that helps to develop procrastination. However, like other psychological aspects there is less evidence of the theoretical framework and foundations of procrastination, but some theory's emphasize on the phenomenon very well. Among them, cognitive theory is the most proficient, as it holds the concept that procrastination may sometimes be the result of irrational beliefs.

Rationale of the Study

After going through a plenty of literature review (Lai Badayai, Chandrasekaran, Lee, and Kulasingam, 2015), it is obvious that the level of procrastination has been increasing in Pakistan. At the same time, personality traits have been considered as an integral part of the research nationally and internationally. Increased quantity of procrastination due to some of the personality traits, i.e., conscientiousness, less emotional stability is one of the issues that are common and prevailing among college and university students, which in turn influence badly the individual's academic performance.

In this study, the attempt is made to explore which personality trait is the root of procrastination, and it also tends to evaluate behavioral magnitudes of procrastination which may result in a student's inability to organize things effectively.


On the basis of literature review and existing researches, the following hypotheses created for this study.

1. There is a significant relationship between personality traits and procrastination a. Honesty-Humility, Agreeableness and Conscientiousness Personality traits has a significant positive relationship with procrastination.

b. Emotionality, Extraversion and Openness Personality trait has a significant negative relationship with procrastination.

Research Methodology

Research Design

The study was quantitative, with cross sectional survey research design.


Participants of the study were male and female students of The Islamia University of Bahawalpur (IUB). Total 254 participants (74 males and 180 females) participated in the study. Their age range, gender, socioeconomic status, program, GPA etc. were calculated. Eligibility criterion was enrolled students of an academic session in any of the Discipline and Programs in the IUB. Individuals having any kind of physical and psychological illness were excluded from the study.

Table 1 Frequency Distribution of Respondents (n=254) According to their Gender, Age, Socioeconomic Status, Marital Status and Residence

###Respondents Characteristics###n (254)###%









###Socioeconomic Status




###Marital Status






Sampling Procedure

Random cluster two-stage sampling technique was used for selecting participants, as employed in similar few studies (Hosseini and Khayyer, 2009). Therefore, in the present study participants were randomly selected using two-staged sampling procedure.

However, total sample size was 254 students. Only willing participants were asked to fill in the required questionnaires.

Measures and Covariates

Demographic Questionnaire. Participant's age, gender, marital status, socioeconomic status, education level, residence, etc. was included in demographic sheet.

Tuckman Procrastination Scale. Procrastination was assessed using the Tuckman Procrastination Scale. This scale formerly includes 35 items with a Cronbach alpha reliability coefficientof.90 (Tuckman, 1991). For the purpose of this study, a well-established summarized version of only 16 items was used. These items were from the 35 item scales that had high reliability of.86. Greater scores point out high procrastination, whereas lower scores indicate less procrastination. The scale displayed high internal consistency reliability of the sample (a =.84). The scale was applied after its Urdu translation by experts and after assessing the psychometric properties of the scale in the pilot study.

HEXACO Personality Inventory-Revised. Urdu translated version was used in the main study after assessing its reliability and validity. Scoring criteria of HEXACO-PI-R is with normal mean of each item, but Items specified with "R" (reverse items). Feature scale scores must be calculated as means across all items in facet, after recording of reverse-keyed items. 60-item versions of the HEXACO-PI-R are very diminutive and are not planning to have greater internal consistency reliability (Ashton and Lee, 2009).


This study was conducted in three phases. The participants (male and female students) were approached by making clusters of overall faculties of IUB, departments were selected randomly in the University premises and lastly enrolled students in particular department were selected using random sampling. After debriefing the purpose of research, informed consent was taken and only willing participants were given the instruments. The collected data were then analyzed using SPSS version 20.


Data was analyzed for accuracy of input, outliers, and missing values. The normality of the data and conditions for analyses were checked visually with histograms and statistically with kurtosis-skews test for normality. Histogram showed a score distributed normally on all scales. To attain the objectives of this research analyses were carried out on a sample of 254 participants.

Correlation analysis was carried out to identify the relationship between personality traits, procrastination. Table 2 showed that procrastination has significant positive relation with honesty-humility, extraversion, agreeableness, and conscientiousness. There is a no significant relationship between emotionality, openness to experience and procrastination.

Table 2 Descriptive Statistics and Correlation among key Variables (n = 254)










Openness to




The current study investigated how personality traits affect the level of procrastination among university students. According to many researchers (Balkis, 2007; Ferrari, 1994; Fernie, Spada, Nikcevic, Georgiou, and Moneta, 2009; Watson, 2001) there are some aspects which provoke people to procrastinate e.g., personality traits, including responsibility, perfectionism, neurotic emotional characteristics etc., lack of time, influence on one's point of view.

Ultimate attention has been paid in exploring the association of procrastination with personality traits (Johnson and Bloom, 1995; Watson, 2001; Steel, Brothen, and Wambach, 2001). Therefore, to scientifically explore the interplay of these variables, certain hypotheses were formulated.

Relationship of Personality Traits and Procrastination

Personality traits and procrastination. Generally, the results of the current study provide an insight into the nature of personality traits and procrastination link with the moderating effect of other sub variables. Personality traits categorically include six components according to HEXACO: (i) Honesty-Humility, (ii) Emotionality, (iii) Extraversion, (iv) Agreeableness, (v) Conscientiousness, and (vi) Openness to experience (McCrae and Costa, 1999; Ashton and Lee, 2008).

However, to investigate the correlation of personality traits on procrastination, it was hypothesized that personality dimensions are correlated with procrastination. Finding revealed that with the increase of an H factor (i.e., Honesty-Humility), procrastination also increases. However, there is an abundance of researches regarding the relationship of variables in this perspective. But in an academic context where there is a high level of procrastination, some recent researches interpret that Honesty-Humility as the strongest predictor to be judged in an academic context as compared to other broad traits (Vries, Vries, and Born, 2010).

Furthermore, the results revealed the correlation between emotionality and procrastination, that with the increase of emotionality, procrastination decreases or vice versa. The level of significance is more than.05 (p<.05) and is different among other personality traits. This mirrors the findings of many researches (McCown, Petzel, and Rupert, 1987) which found that there is curve relationship between emotionality (neuroticism) and procrastination. However, some of the researches also revealed the linear and no significant relationship between emotionality and procrastination (Milgram and Tenne, 2000; Hess, Sherman, and Goodman, 2000; Dewitte and Schouwenberg, 2002).

According to the hypothesis of another personality trait, i.e., extraversion if increases, it may decrease procrastination. Findings revealed that with increasing extraversion, procrastination also increases. Moreover, the results also revealed the significant (p.05). The findings of some researches (Matthews and Zeidner, 2004; DeNeve and Cooper, 1998) support the phenomena that there are some personality traits having a positive relationship with procrastination, which may in turn affects their academic performance, and agreeableness, neuroticism are one of them.

The study has also found that there is significant (p<.05) positive relationship of conscientiousness with procrastination in contrast with the other personality traits. Being highly satisfied with the concept of positive relationship between conscientiousness and procrastination, the idea proposed by different studies (Barthelemy and Lounsbury, 2009; Paunonen and Ashton, 2001; Poropat, 2009) which suggest that there is considerable significant impact and correlation of conscientiousness with procrastination.

Finally, according to the results, openness to experience has no significant correlation with procrastination but has positive relationship. Researchers have emphasized that openness to experience has a significant linear relationship with procrastination. These results and similar studies (Lai, Badayai, Chandrasekaran, Lee, and Kulasingam, 2015) suggest that there is a correlation between different personality traits and procrastination.


This study concludes that Personality traits play an important role in procrastination. An individual thought process, cognition is an integral and central part of how he copes up with the situation regarding his social, educational and professional life. Personality traits are an influential feature of a person; some other personality aspects need to be investigated in order to better understand the root of procrastination.

Recommendations for Future Research

Future researches should consider more psychometric measures to assess more specific relationship. Cities other than Bahawalpur should be taken into consideration with larger sample size to establish more sound results. Furthermore, longitudinal research design will better predict the relationship of personality traits and procrastination. Lastly, practical ways should be addressed in future researches to reduce procrastination.


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Author:Nadeem, Masood; Malik, Areeba Ather; Javaid, Fatima
Publication:Journal of Educational Research
Article Type:Report
Date:Dec 31, 2016
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