Is there a link between impatience and procrastination?

Paola Sapienza, Ernesto Reuben, Luigi Zingales, Mon, 01/28/2008



Are impatient people also likely to procrastinate? While these two behavioural characteristics are often said to be linked, the authors of CEPR DP6668 use lab, field and survey evidence to test this link empirically and discover that it does exist.

The authors designed an experiment in which MBA students have won prize money of up to $300, and have a choice of receiving payment by cheque either immediately or in two weeks. They found that the students who were impatient and wanted to receive the prize money immediately were also more likely to procrastinate and delay cashing the cheque, even controlling for the amount of prize money. To test their results, they also asked the students to complete two surveys, one mandatory as part of their course and one voluntary, both with specific deadlines. They found that the students who wanted to receive their cheques immediately were more likely to leave the surveys until just before the deadlines.

Finally, the authors also found that there was an even stronger link between impatience and procrastination in ‘naïve’ students (i.e. those who claimed that they do not procrastinate).

DP6668 Procrastination and Impatience

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Topics:  Financial markets

Tags:  behaviour, impatience, procrastination


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