Treating procrastination - effectiveness and neurobehavioral mechanisms of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy and Working Time Restriction

Project Leader: Marek Wypych, PhD, DSc




Procrastination is a self-regulatory failure in which people voluntarily but irrationally delay some tasks, despite knowing that such behavior can lead to negative consequences. Trait procrastination is estimated to affect 15–20% of the total population and negatively affects the quality of lives of the affected, as well as economic and healthcare systems. Increased research interest in procrastination in recent years brought valuable results regarding mechanisms underlying procrastination and several promising procrastination treatment methods. However, the intervention research line requires more carefully designed studies.

In this novel project, we aim to assess the efficacy, stability of the effects, and potential underlying mechanisms of two promising brief interventions tailored for procrastination, in a sample of highly procrastinating students. Using double-blind randomized control trials, we will two Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) protocols with an active and waitlist control groups. We will assess the efficacy of these two interventions and test multiple hypotheses concerning their underlying target mechanisms on the cognitive, emotional and behavioral levels. Employing EEG and fMRI, we will also verify hypotheses on neuronal mechanisms of these interventions.

We believe that thanks to being carefully planned and aiming at sufficiently powered group sizes, the project will provide reliable results on the efficacy and underlying mechanisms of two promising interventions for procrastination. The project results may directly influence the clinical and therapeutic practice, showing the efficacy of particular interventions. A better understanding of mechanisms of the interventions can facilitate the improvement of existing and/or development of new therapeutic approaches. Moreover, knowing the target mechanisms of the interventions may inspire future research on more personalized approaches in the treatment of procrastination.