Self-efficacy as a mediator in the relationship between self-oriented perfectionism and academic procrastination.
Keywords: self-oriented perfectionism, self-efficacy, academic procrastination, mediator, structural equation modeling.
Academic procrastination can be described as unnecessarily delaying academic activities, that one ultimately intends to complete, to the point of creating emotional discomfort (Solomon & Rothblum, 1984). Over the years, a link has been established in a number of studies between perfectionism and procrastination (e.g., Burka & Yuen, 1983; Ferrari, Johnson, & McCowan, 1995). Pacht (1984) discussed also the link between perfectionism and procrastination in his presidential address to the American Psychological Association. It has been suggested in recent studies that perfectionism is a multidimensional construct comprised of self-oriented perfectionism, other-oriented perfectionism, and socially prescribed perfectionism, and the association between socially prescribed perfectionism and academic procrastination has also been clarified (e.g., Flett, Blankstein, Hewitt, & Koledin, 1992; Onwuegbuzie, 2000; Park & Kwon, 1998; Saddler & Buley, 1999; Saddler & Sacks, 1993).
According to Hewitt and Flett (1991), self-oriented perfectionists tend to set and to pursue unrealistically high and rigid standards for themselves, and additionally to undertake stringent self-appraisal in an attempt to attain perfection and to avoid failure. Self-oriented perfectionism has a positive motivational component that involves actively striving to meet goals (Hewitt & Flett). Individuals with a high level of self-oriented perfectionism are quite conscientious and ambitious and tend to have high self-efficacy (Bandura, 1989; Mills & Blankstein, 2000), high self-esteem (Flett, Blankstein, et al., 1995), an internal locus of control (Flett, Hewitt, Blankstein, & O'Brien, 1991), and adaptive cognitive learning strategies (Mills & Blankstein). They may also demonstrate high levels of achievement under certain circumstances (see Flett, Blankstein, & Hewitt, in press). Although self-oriented perfectionism has been characterized by some authors as adaptive, this perfectionism can be associated with psychological distress when negative life events are experienced (Hewitt, Flett, & Ediger, 1996) and when self-oriented perfectionists find themselves in highly challenging and competitive situations, such as in the case of medical students (see Enns, Cox, Sareen, & Freeman, 2001). Maladaptive responses such as cognitive distorts (Jung, 2000), low self-esteem, a sense of shame, and feelings of guilt (Hewitt & Flett, 1991; Pacht, 1984) are likely to be present if an individual with perfectionistic standards is characterized by a tendency to be self-critical or pessimistic about outcomes involving the self (Bandura, 1986; Kanfer & Hagerman, 1981).
While there is agreement among researchers that there is a relationship between socially prescribed perfectionism and academic procrastination, there is disagreement as to whether or not self-oriented perfectionism has a relationship with academic procrastination. Some researchers have suggested that no significant correlation exists between self-oriented perfectionism and academic procrastination (e.g., Flett et al., 1992; Onwuegbuzie, 2000; Saddler & Sacks, 1993). Other researchers have reported that there was a significantly negative association between self-oriented perfectionism and academic procrastination (e.g., Busko, 1998; Frost, Marten, Lahart, & Rosenblate, 1990; Park & Kwon, 1998; Saddler & Buley, 1999). According to Park and Kwon, while a positive relationship between socially prescribed perfectionism and academic procrastination is found in interpersonal contexts related to social evaluation--such as examinations or assignments--a negative relationship between self-oriented perfectionism and academic procrastination is found in more general contexts --such as returning library books on time and being late for appointments and meetings. Given that self-oriented perfectionism incorporates a sense of intrinsic motivation and a tendency to approach, rather than avoid, achievement situations, Flett, Blankstein, and Martin (1995) predicted that any relationship between procrastination and self-oriented perfectionism would be negative in direction.
Collectively, in the past researchers have indicated that self-oriented perfectionism is either unassociated with procrastination or is associated negatively with procrastination. From these findings, we deduce that there may be mediators in the relationship between self-oriented perfectionism and academic procrastination. It has been suggested that perfectionism and academic procrastination are two personality constructs that tend to reflect a negative self-concept, a diminished sense of personal efficacy, and lack of satisfaction with the self (Flett, Hewitt, et al., 1995; Martin, Flett, Hewitt, Krames, & Szanto, 1996). From this notion, it is inferred that self-efficacy may mediate the relationship between perfectionism and academic procrastination.
Self-efficacy describes students' beliefs about whether they are capable of successfully accomplishing a particular task, activity, or assignment (Bandura, 1997). The indication from the results of previous studies is that students' self-efficacy has an important impact on their motivation and behavior within achievement situations (Wolters, 2003). Typically, students with higher levels of self-efficacy tend to engage more readily in academic tasks, use more deep-level and regulatory strategies, persist longer, and achieve higher grades than students who are less sure of their ability to succeed (Bandura). Bandura argued that if adequate levels of ability and motivation existed, self-efficacy would affect positively a person's task initiation and persistence, whereas weak efficacy beliefs could contribute to behavior avoidance. In some prior research it has been found that college students who display higher levels of self-efficacy for social or everyday tasks (but no self-efficacy for academic tasks) report less frequent procrastination than do other students (Ferrari, Parker, & Ware, 1992; Lay, 1992; Martin et al., 1996). Wolters suggested that college students' reported level of procrastination was related to their self-efficacy for academic tasks and work-avoidant goal orientation. Tuckman (1991) and Haycock, McCarthy, and Skay (1998) also found a significant inverse relationship between efficacy beliefs and procrastination. Tuckman and Sexton (1992) reviewed their work and concluded that self-beliefs mediated between external conditions and self-regulated performance, such that a lack of efficacy led to procrastination.
The purpose of this study was to provide a better understanding of the link between self-oriented perfectionism and academic procrastination by examining the role of self-efficacy as a mediator in the relation of these two constructs. We proposed a preliminary model that self-efficacy fully mediates the relationship between self-oriented perfectionism and academic procrastination. We also postulated a competitive model that self-efficacy partially mediates the relationship between self-oriented perfectionism and academic procrastination. By comparing the two models, we aimed to identify the role of self-efficacy in the relationship between self-oriented perfectionism and academic procrastination, to find a possible reason for disagreement about the influence that self-oriented perfectionism has on academic procrastination, and to provide a basis for intervention for overcoming academic procrastination.
To summarize, two hypotheses were proposed as follows:
Hypothesis l: Preliminary model--Self-efficacy fully mediates the relation between self-oriented perfectionism and academic procrastination (Figure 1).
[FIGURE 1 OMITTED]
Hypothesis 2: Competitive model--Self-efficacy partially mediates the relation between self-oriented perfectionism and academic procrastination (Figure 2).
[FIGURE 2 OMITTED]
Participants for this study included 692 students from two large urban universities and two local universities. The sample included 123 men (17.8%) and 569 women (82.2%). Participants were primarily first-year students (53.2%), 21.5% were sophomores, 10.8% were juniors, and 14% were seniors (0.5% were missing data).
Academic Procrastination measure Solomon and Rothblum (1984) developed the Procrastination Assessment Scale--Students (PASS). It consists of two sections. The first section assesses the prevalence of procrastination in six areas of academic functioning: (a) writing a term paper, (b) studying for an examination, (c) keeping up with weekly reading assignments, (d) performing administrative tasks, (e) attending meetings, and (f) performing academic tasks in general. Subjects are asked to indicate on a 5-point Likert scale the degree to which they procrastinate on the task (1 = never procrastinate; 5 = always procrastinate). The second section of the PASS provides a procrastination scenario and then lists a variety of possible reasons for procrastination on the task. In the present study students answered only the first section on the prevalence of procrastination in six areas of academic functioning. The coefficient alpha reliability estimate for our study was .70 for that first section.
Self-oriented Perfectionism measure Hewitt and Flett (1991) developed the Multidimensional Perfectionism Scale (MPS) which is a 45-item, 7-point Likert-format instrument designed to measure three dimensions of perfectionism; self-oriented, other-oriented, and socially prescribed perfectionism. A high score on any subscale represents a tendency to be perfectionistic on the dimension measured by that scale. The MPS has been found to possess good psychometric properties and to generate both reliable and valid scores (Hewitt & Flett). For the present study, only the self-oriented perfectionism subscale was used. The coefficient alpha reliability estimate in our study was .88 for self-oriented perfectionism.
Self-efficacy measure Kim and Cha (1996) developed the Korean General Self-Efficacy Scale (GSE) on the basis of Bandura's conceptualization of his early theory of self-efficacy (Bandura, 1977). The GSE is a 24-item, 6-point Likert-format instrument with three subscales; self-confidence, self-regulatory efficacy, and task difficulty preference. The scale has been validated in previous studies (Kim, 1997). The coefficient alpha reliability estimates of our study were .85 for self-confidence, .85 for self-regulatory efficacy and .83 for task difficulty preference.
PROCEDURE AND DATA ANALYSIS
Subjects enrolled in introductory psychology courses in the spring of 2006 were administered the PASS, the MPS, and the GSE. Structural equation modeling (SEM) was conducted to test the role of self-efficacy in the relationship between self-oriented perfectionism and academic procrastination, using AMOS 5.0. When a scale is composed of unidimensional items, it is necessary to use parcels (Bandalos & Finney, 2001). This study used the method of forming parcels which systematically group together items that are arranged contiguously on the scale within a factor for measures of self-oriented perfectionism and academic procrastination.
The correlation between all variables was analyzed in order to examine the SEM which this study produced. Table 1 shows the intercorrelations among the variables. There were significant correlations between parcels of self-oriented perfectionism, academic procrastination, and self-efficacy.
SEM was carried out to explore the preliminary model. The preliminary model did not fit the data well ([chi square] = 159.7, df = 12, RMSEA = .133, NNFI =.649, CFI = .849). According to the findings of previous researchers, while self-oriented perfectionism is related to high self-efficacy (Bandura, 1989; Mills & Blankstein, 2000), it is sometimes related to low self-confidence, a factor of self-efficacy (Hewitt & Flett, 1991; Pacht, 1984). Therefore, the preliminary model was modified by connecting between error terms of self-oriented perfectionism and an error term of self-confidence.
The modified preliminary model fitted well with NNFI (TI-1) = .973, CFI = .990, and RMSEA = .037 though [chi square] was significant ([chi square] = 19.567, df = 10, p < .05). Because [chi square] is sensitive to the sample size, it is not appropriate to use it as a fit index for testing SEM. Recently Hu and Bentler (1999) suggested that if NNFI and CFI of a model were more than .95 and RMSEA of the model was less than .06, the model was suitable. Therefore, the modified preliminary model was suitable. The modified competitive model also fitted well with NNFI (TLI) = .967, CFI = .989, and RMSEA = .041 although [chi square] was significant ([chi square] was = 19.486, df = 9, p < .05). Therefore, the modified competitive model was also suitable.
When the modified preliminary model was compared with the modified competitive model, the difference of [chi square] was .081 and the difference of degree of freedom was 1. Because the difference of [chi square] was less than 3.84, the value of [chi square](1), the modified preliminary model was better than the modified competitive model. That is, even though the explanation of the modified preliminary model fell as much as .081, the parsimony of the model improved as much as 1. Other fit indices such as NNFI (TLI), CFI, and RMSEA also supported the modified preliminary model as being better than the modified competitive model.
Figure 3 shows the final model in which self-efficacy mediated completely the relationship between self-oriented perfectionism and academic procrastination with the connection between error terms of self-oriented perfectionism and an error term of self-confidence. Self-oriented perfectionism had a significantly positive influence on self-efficacy (standardized coefficient = .65, p < .001) and, in turn, self-efficacy had a significantly negative influence on academic procrastination (standardized coefficient = -.71, p < .001).
[FIGURE 3 OMITTED]
The purpose of this study was to provide a better understanding of the link between self-oriented perfectionism and academic procrastination by examining the role of self-efficacy as a mediator in the relationship. From this study, two major findings emerged.
The first major finding was that self-efficacy completely mediates the relationship between self-oriented perfectionism and academic procrastination. This finding suggests that procrastination is dependent on the complex interaction of intrapersonal factors. This finding is similar to the findings of Flett, Hewitt, and colleagues (1995) and Martin et al. (1996) who suggested that perfectionism and procrastination were two personality constructs that tend to reflect a diminished sense of personal efficacy. Specifically, self-efficacy fully, rather than partially, mediates the relationship between self-oriented perfectionism and academic procrastination. Thus, self-efficacy plays an important role in the relationship between self-oriented perfectionism and academic procrastination.
Interestingly, while self-oriented perfectionism was positively related to general self-efficacy, it had a partially negative relation with self-confidence, a factor of general self-efficacy. For this reason, it was critical to connect error terms of self-oriented perfectionism with an error term of self-confidence in the structural equation modeling. As previously discussed, self-oriented perfectionism has both adaptive and maladaptive functions. Although self-oriented perfectionism can be associated with positive consequences, when negative life events are experienced (Hewitt et al., 1996), and when self-oriented perfectionists find themselves in highly challenging and competitive situations (see Enns et al, 2001), maladaptive responses such as cognitive distorts (Jung, 2000), low self-esteem, a sense of shame, and guilt feelings (Hewitt & Flett, 1991; Pacht, 1984) are likely to be present. Therefore, self-oriented perfectionism may have a positive or negative influence on self-efficacy according to the environmental context. This result implies that the effect of self-efficacy on academic procrastination may also be different depending on the interaction between self-oriented perfectionism and environmental context. However, in prior research, analysis had been carried out on the direct association between self-oriented perfectionism and academic procrastination regardless of psychological mediators such as self-efficacy and the interaction between self-oriented perfectionism and environmental context (e.g., Busko, 1998; Flett et al., 1992; Frost et al., 1990; Onwuegbuzie, 2000; Park & Kwon, 1998; Saddler & Buley, 1999; Saddler & Sacks, 1993). And the results of those studies caused disagreement among researchers as to whether or not self-oriented perfectionism influences academic procrastination. In studies that suggest self-oriented perfectionism is unassociated with procrastination, self-efficacy is seen as a confounding variable in the relationship between self-oriented perfectionism and academic procrastination. Each parcel of the variable is composed of a common characteristic presented as a latent variable and a unique characteristic presented as an error term. That is, self-confidence is composed of self-efficacy as a common characteristic and an error term of self-confidence as a unique characteristic. Self-efficacy is positively related to self-oriented perfectionism, whereas an error term of self-confidence is negatively related to error terms of self-oriented perfectionism. These two effects of common and unique characteristics may be counterbalanced. In particular, these contradicted effects depend on environmental contexts--such as stressful situations. Thus, in some studies, the results may be that no relation is found between self-oriented perfectionism and academic procrastination.
The second major finding of our study was that self-oriented perfectionism often leads to less academic procrastination. This finding supports the view of some prior researchers (e.g., Busko, 1998; Frost et al., 1990; Park & Kwon, 1998; Saddler & Buley, 1999) who found academic procrastination to be related to low self-oriented perfectionism. That is, self-oriented perfectionism was found to have a positive influence on self-efficacy. It is consistent with the assertion of some researchers (Bandura, 1989; Mills & Blankstein, 2000) that self-oriented perfectionists showed high self-efficacy and self-efficacy in turn, had a negative influence on academic procrastination. This is consistent with the assertion of some researchers (e.g., Ferrari, 1991; Ferrari et al., 1992; Haycock et al., 1993; Lay, 1992; Martin et al., 1996; Tuckman, 1991; Tuckman & Sexton, 1992; Wolters, 2003) that self-efficacy is negatively related to academic procrastination. In other words, self-oriented perfectionism appeared to have a negative influence on academic procrastination.
Finally, results from our study also suggest that interventions designed to decrease students' procrastination might be more successful if they focus on increasing students' self-efficacy. Current procrastination interventions emphasize the development of behavioral skills such as self-monitoring and self-reward (Green, 1982) and time management (Brown, 1992; Eerde, 2003). As Solomon and Rothblum (1984) indicated, procrastination encompasses more than poor study habits and a lack of time management. It involves a complex interaction of behaviors, cognitions, and affect. An efficacy intervention designed to overcome academic procrastination could include exercises related to accurate estimations of intervals of time, improvement of perceived control of time, and having repeated experiences that assignments are successfully completed in time.
It is worthwhile for future researchers to investigate further the causal nature of features such as negative self-concept, lack of satisfaction with the self, and anxiety about the relations between self-oriented perfectionism and academic procrastination. Because the present study was completed using college students, most of whom were women, further research is also needed to determine whether or not these findings may be generalized to other student populations or to men.
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EUN HEE SEO
Seoul Women's University, Nowon-gu, Korea
Eun Hee Seo, Seoul Women's University, Nowon-gu, Seoul, Korea.
This work was supported by a special research grant from Seoul Women's University (2008).
Appreciation is due to anonymous reviewers.
Please address correspondence and reprint requests to: Eun Hee Seo, 1-302 Height Villa, Chung-dam dong, Kang-nam gu, Seoul, Korea (ROK). Phone: +82 2 970 7877 or +82 2 16 238 5952; Email: email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
TABLE 1 SCALE CHARACTERISTICS AND INTERCORRELATIONS (N = 692) 1 2 3 1. First parcel of self-oriented perfectionism -- 2. Second parcel of self-oriented perfectionism .54 ** -- 3. Self-confidence -.12 ** -.08 * -- 4. Self-regulatory efficacy .42 ** .43 ** .42 ** 5. Task difficulty preference .17 ** .22 ** .26 ** 6. Academic procrastination in (a), (b), and (c) areas -.19 ** -.25 ** -.17 ** 7. Academic procrastination in (d), (e), and (f) areas -.24 ** -.23 ** -.23 ** 4 5 6 7 1. First parcel of self-oriented perfectionism 2. Second parcel of self-oriented perfectionism 3. Self-confidence 4. Self-regulatory efficacy -- 5. Task difficulty preference .32 ** -- 6. Academic procrastination in (a), (b), and (c) areas -.37 ** -.11 ** -- 7. Academic procrastination in (d), (e), and (f) areas -.37 ** -.14 ** .36 ** -- * p < 0.05 ** p< 0.01
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|Author:||Seo, Eun Hee|
|Publication:||Social Behavior and Personality: An International Journal|
|Date:||Jul 1, 2008|
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