Procrastination and Impulsivity Genetically Linked


No one is a stranger to the term procrastination as everyone has at one point or the other put off work for tomorrow that could have been done today. Those who do procrastinate are mocked and are at times said to have been born with the problem. Researchers have discovered that individuals might indeed be genetically programmed to procrastinate. A study posted in the journal Psychological Science suggests that procrastination and impulsivity might be genetically linked together.

This genetic link was first perceived when it was observed that different individuals procrastinated differently from one another. Some were even more likely to procrastinate than others. Surveyors at the University of Colorado started looking into whether this habit was rooted in genetics. The survey was then conducted among 166 fraternal twin pairs and 181 identical twin pairs. The survey looked at the twins’ ability to set and achieve a goal and their link to procrastination and impulsivity.

Impulsivity involves the tendency to act without any forethought or on a whim. Researchers agree that being impulsive provided our ancestors the edge needed to survive when the future was uncertain. Procrastination on the other hand developed much more recently and is a modern occurrence. Humans now focus more on future or long term goals which they are often easily distracted from.

Keeping both these traits in mind, it can be concluded that people who procrastinate are also highly impulsive. Researchers also suggested that procrastination might also be a by product of making rash decisions that go with being impulsive. Based on the similarities in the way the twins behaved, it was discovered that procrastination and impulsivity are indeed linked to genetics.

Author of the journal Daniel Gustavson in a statement said that understanding the mechanics behind procrastination might help develop methods of preventing it. This might even help reduce human tendency to easily get distracted and loose track of their work.

Certain studies were also conducted to exactly point the environment and biological stimuli that increase the tendency to procrastinate in an individual. Turning back to the survey conducted on the twins, it was noted that there might even be a complete overlap between impulsivity and procrastination. That is to say that there is no genetic influence that is unique to just one of the traits. This suggest that procrastination has always been a byproduct of impulsivity. It simply is more apparent in the modern world than it was in the past.

The link between impulsivity and procrastination also overlapped with the ability to set and accomplish goals. This indicates that the tendency to delay decisions, make rash ones and inability to achieve goals are all stemmed in the same genetic foundation.

Gustavson said that they would now be focusing on impulsivity and procrastination and its link to higher level cognitive abilities. Another critical area to explore is whether these habits might be linked to other day to day aspects of everyday lives.

The discovery that procrastination and impulsivity are genetically linked states that there might be a deeper reasoning behind why someone procrastinates than them just not wanting to work. Understanding why an individual behaves the way they do would definitely provide a better insight on what really makes a person tick.

By Hammad Ali


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