A motivational perspective on academic procrastination: Goal focus affects how students perceive activities while procrastinating.

This 14-week longitudinal study with weekly real-time reports investigated if goal focus (i.e., a focus on the process vs. the outcome of goal pursuit) is associated with students’ (N = 105) perceptions of the activities in which they were engaged while procrastinating (alternative activities). We compared perceptions of the alternative activities with the focal activity (here: working on a bachelor’s thesis) as well as with a baseline perception of the alternative activity. More specifically, we considered the perceptions of the alternative activities regarding their importance, pleasantness, guilt, stressfulness, delay of gratification, and the motivation to engage in them. Multilevel analyses differentiating between relationships at the within- and between-person level showed that process and outcome focus exert distinct influences on the perceptions of activities and that outcome focus is a stronger predictor than process focus. Outcome focus was positively related to importance and stress, and negatively to pleasantness, guilt, and motivation. In contrast, process focus was positively associated with pleasantness and motivation, and negatively with guilt. While students perceived alternative activities as rewarding at a later point in time when they focused more on the outcome, they perceived these activities as more immediately gratifying when they focused more on the process. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved)