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Year : 2020  |  Volume : 18  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 266-270

Assessment of procrastination trait among dental students – A preliminary outlook

Department of Public Health Dentistry, Surendera Dental College and Research Institute, Ganganagar, Rajasthan, India

Date of Submission14-Dec-2019
Date of Acceptance06-Oct-2020
Date of Web Publication24-Oct-2020

Correspondence Address:
Sakshi Shukla
Department of Public Health Dentistry, Surendera Dental College and Research Institute, Ganganagar, Rajasthan
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/jiaphd.jiaphd_126_19

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Background: Procrastination is a form of self-regulation failure characterized by the irrational delay of tasks despite potentially negative consequences. The scenario among dental students is virtually unknown. Aim: The aim was to evaluate the prevalence of trait procrastination among dental students. Materials and Methodology: A cross-sectional questionnaire-based survey was conducted during September 2019 which included BDS final-year students and interns for assessing their procrastination trait. Lay's Procrastination Scale (LPS)-student version was used to collect desired information. The descriptive statistics were computed to evaluate the prevalence of significant procrastination (LPS score ≥60), and inferential statistics was done using SPSS (v21.0 IBM) software. Results: The results showed that interns had significant procrastination prevalence (LPS score ≥60) as compared to BDS final-year students. The procrastination trait among males was found to be at higher extent as compared to females. Conclusion: Because procrastination has been consistently reported to exert an adverse influence on the academic performance of students, the final-year students, to obviate the downscaling in their performance, tend to have significantly lesser procrastination trait than the interns and these findings highlight the need for active measures to reduce the causes and consequences of procrastination in dental education.

Keywords: Dental students, interns, procrastination trait

How to cite this article:
Shukla S, Batra M, Singh S, Gijwani D, Leimaton T, Mangal P. Assessment of procrastination trait among dental students – A preliminary outlook. J Indian Assoc Public Health Dent 2020;18:266-70

How to cite this URL:
Shukla S, Batra M, Singh S, Gijwani D, Leimaton T, Mangal P. Assessment of procrastination trait among dental students – A preliminary outlook. J Indian Assoc Public Health Dent [serial online] 2020 [cited 2022 Dec 8];18:266-70. Available from: https://www.jiaphd.org/text.asp?2020/18/3/266/298997

  Introduction Top

Whether conceived of as a situational-bound lapse in volition or as a chronic and trait-like tendency, procrastination is generally explained by researchers as the voluntary delay of important, necessary, and intended action despite knowing that there will be negative consequences for this delay.[1]

It is defined as “a trait or behavioural disposition to postpone or delay performing a task or making decisions.”[2] Even realizing it is disadvantageous, procrastination can be seen as an irrational behavior delaying some intended course of action.[3] Virtually, it is seen that everybody has procrastinated at some point of time with little or no consequences, despite widespread recognition of it as an undesirable quality.[4]

The responsibility for controlling performance shifts progressively from parents and teachers to the student, as a student proceeds through school, and it reaches a high point during the college years.[5] According to Solomon, as many as 50% of college students procrastinate on academic tasks at least half of the time and an additional 38% report procrastinating occasionally.[6] Further, it was suggested to be a mechanism to avoid difficult tasks, academic failure, anxiety-provoking situations as well as a short-term mood-regulation strategy, the inability to delay gratification, a time management problem, or a “last-minute” thrill experience.[7] Procrastination often takes the form of disengaging from intended tasks which may have immediate costs (e.g., are difficult, boring, or aversive) yet distant gains, to engage in activities that are more immediately rewarding.[8]

Perfectionism, fear of failure, and task aversiveness were found to be the most influencing factors on procrastination among college students.[9] Temporal Motivation Theory, which was found to be the most supportive theory of the literature, suggests that difficult tasks with lack luster qualities are the ones often postponed. Further, higher priority tasks are more likely to be procrastinated if options with more immediate rewards and remote costs are available.[10]

The consequences of procrastination are characterized into two domains by Monchek and Muchnick. Missed deadlines, lost opportunities, lost income, lower productivity, waste of time, and loss of standing among associates are the ones included in the concrete consequences, whereas emotional consequences include lower morale, heightened stress, frustration and anger, and lower motivation. The effect of procrastination on performance of an individual takes on special importance in an educational setting.[11]

Over the years, procrastination was studied mostly in young college students attending academic settings, and was suggested to be strongly associated with a self-regulation failure in the face of temptations.

As in dental education as well time is a valuable factor, still surprisingly, there is a lack of literature on procrastination-related issues among dental students. Hence, the current study was done to assess the procrastination trait among the interns and dental final-year students in a dental teaching hospital.

  Materials and Methodology Top

A cross-sectional questionnaire-based survey was conducted using Lays Procrastination Scale (LPS) for final-year students and interns of Dental Institute, Sri Ganganagar, Rajasthan, during the time period of August–September 2019. Ethical clearance (ref no. SDCRI/IEC/2019/027) from the institutional ethical committee was obtained prior to commencement of the study.

LPS [Figure 1] is a self-report inventory developed in 1986 for students, that include twenty statements that people may generally use to describe themselves (I do not do assignments until just before they are to be handed in, I prefer to leave early for an appointment, I usually buy even an essential item at the last minute, etc.). The respondent rates the extent to which the statements are characteristic or uncharacteristic of him or her on a 5-point Likert scale scored from 1 to 5, where score 1 denotes that the statement is extremely uncharacteristic of the student, 2 denotes moderately uncharacteristic, 3 being neutral, whereas score 4 denotes moderately characteristic and 5 denotes extremely characteristic.[9] The twenty statements are summed up to get a final score in which the higher score indicates procrastinating behavior. In the context of the study, a score of ≥60 was considered a significant extent of procrastination.
Figure 1: Lay Procrastination Scale for students

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The purpose was explained to the respondents prior to start of the study. The identity of the study participants was kept anonymous. The procrastination questionnaire was distributed to the participants. A total of 154 students were approached through convenient sampling, to which 139 students responded properly, yielding a response rate of 90%.

Statistical analysis

Further, data were subjected to descriptive and inferential statistics using SPSS(v21.0 IBM, Chicago, Ill., USA) software. Student's t-test and Chi-square test were applied, wherever needed.

P < 0.05 was considered statistically significant with a confidence interval of 95%.

  Results Top

A total of 139 dental students participated in the study including 70 male and 69 female participants. The mean procrastination score among the male participants was found to be higher (62.81 ± 7.499) as compared to that of the female participants (62.25 ± 9.977), and the difference was not found to be statistically significant (P = 0.705) [Table 1].
Table 1: Comparison of mean of the procrastination score between male and female participants

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The mean procrastination score among interns was found to be higher (65.05 ± 9.0) as compared to that of BDS final-year students (59.74 ± 7.66), and the difference was found to be statistically significant (P < 0.01) [Table 2].
Table 2: Comparison of mean of the procrastination score between interns and BDS final-year students

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The procrastination extent was found to be higher among male participants as compared to female participants. It was found that 70% of males had LPS score > 60, whereas in females, it was only 57.9%, and the difference was found to be statistically significant (P < 0.05) [Table 3].
Table 3: Difference in procrastination extent among males and females

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Students with LPS score > 60 were significantly higher among interns (76.7%) as compared to BDS final-year students (48.4%) (P < 0.01) [Table 4].
Table 4: Difference in procrastination extent among BDS final-year students and interns

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Although the difference in the mean procrastination score among male and female participants was not found to be significant, the difference in procrastination extent using Chi-square test was found to be statistically significant [Table 1] and [Table 3].

  Discussion Top

Procrastination can be termed “postponing, delaying, or putting off' in decision or behavior processes.[2] Although procrastination could be seen in various stages of life, it is a wide-ranging problem among college students, and it affects the students' academic life and well-being negatively.[10]

Therefore, the present study was done to observe procrastination level among dental students at various aspects. Over the context of procrastination difference among males and females, the present study concluded that males had significantly higher LPS score than females, which is similar to a study conducted by Lakshminarayan et al. in 2012, which indicated that males had higher procrastination scores as compared to female participants.[12] However, in contrast, the meta-analytic results by Steel and Erdw showed that men appear to procrastinate slightly more than women.[10],[13]

According to Ozer's and Ferrari's study, males are more frequent in procrastinating the academic tasks in comparison to females. Accordingly, females put their fear of failure and their laziness as a reason for their academic procrastination.[14] Unlike females, males showed more academic procrastination than females because of risking control and resistance. In addition, according to Connell and Ryan, it has been reported that women are more intrinsically motivated than men and less externally regulated and amotivated with regard to academic activities than men, hence are expected to procrastinate less.[15]

Contrary to this, a study conducted by Mohammed in 2013 concluded that procrastination tendency does not differ according to gender.[16] This finding goes on the same line with some researchers who found that there were no difference between men and women in procrastination tendency (Beswick et al.; Effert and Ferrari).[17]

In the present study, over the context of procrastination among dental students, it was observed that interns had higher procrastination level as compared to final-year students, which is similar to the study conducted by Onwuegbuzie in 2000, which indicated that graduate students were more likely to procrastinate assignments than undergraduate students.[18]

Nagarjuna et al. in 2018 concluded a significant level of procrastination among dental students. According to their study, dental students are under continuous stress to achieve the impeccable standards expected by the trainers.[19] Dental students must balance their academic, preclinical, and clinical responsibilities simultaneously and are no exception for procrastination.

There is limited scope of direct comparison of studies done among dental students due to their destitution in literature although comparison can be done with studies done for the detection of procrastination level among other students using LPS.

Madhan et al. conducted a study in 2019 which concluded that there is a significant extent of trait procrastination among students based on the LPS cutoff score of 60, which is similar to the results achieved in the study conducted by Sirin.[10]

A study conducted by Rothblum, Solomon, and Murakami examined the relationship between procrastination- and academic-related trait measures among undergraduate students enrolled in an introductory psychology course. The results indicated that high procrastinators were more likely to report test anxiety, weekly state anxiety, and anxiety-related physical symptoms, which can be another reason of students undergoing exams to have lesser procrastination trait than those of interns.[20]

However, if we compare the results of our study with those done among general population, the results of the present study appear to be slightly higher than that of the general population and considerably lower than the percent described for university students. This wide variability appears to arise from the instrument used, the domain of procrastination assessed (behavioral, academic, decisional, etc.), and the cutoff points in quantifying the severity of procrastination.[10]

According to Wolters, some students procrastinate until anxiety and worry reaches its highest level, then they feel motivated to do their work. Students' beliefs about their procrastination are related to their motivational beliefs.[21] Students will be more likely to procrastinate if they believe that they are not able to complete certain tasks and the tasks they believe they have the ability to complete will be done without procrastination. According to Chu and Choi, procrastinators are of two forms: (a) passive procrastinators and (b) active procrastinators. Passive procrastinators are the ones who will fail to complete the task in time, whereas active procrastinators will postpone their task until the last minute, those are the ones who “work better under pressure.”[22]

However, it should be kept in mind that postponing a task frequently leads to a larger task and more serious problems such as stress, a sense of guilt, and crisis and social disapproval for not meeting responsibilities or commitments.


  • The major limitation of this study is the social desirability bias as it is a self-reporting survey chances are that participants might respond delusively, to gain the positive impact, which may mislead the results. And second, comparison between BDS final-year students and interns, as the latter in dental program do not have any clinical quota or deadline to be fulfilled.

  Conclusion Top

The reasons owing to procrastination of dental students in India may be determined by measuring, classifying, and evaluating the prevalence of academic procrastination, and strategies could be developed to counter such negative behavior. Organized team efforts could be made to educate students about efficient time management and how to improve their organizational skills in order to reduce their tendency to procrastinate.

Financial support and sponsorship


Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

  References Top

Sirois FM. Procrastination and the priority of short-term mood regulation: Consequences for future self. Soc Personality Psychol Compass 2013;7:115-27.  Back to cited text no. 1
Milgram NA, Mey-Tal G, Levison Y. Procrastination, generalized or specific, in college students and their parents. PersIndiv Diff 1998;25:297-316.  Back to cited text no. 2
Klingsieck KB. Procrastination: When good things don't come to those who wait. Europ Psychol 2013;18:24-34.  Back to cited text no. 3
Ellis A, Knaus WJ. Overcoming Procrastination. New York: Signet Books; 1977.  Back to cited text no. 4
Babu P, Chandra KM, Vanishree MK, Amritha N. Relationship between academic procrastination and self-esteem among dental students in Bengaluru City. J Indian Assoc Public Health Dent 2019;17:146-51.  Back to cited text no. 5
  [Full text]  
Solomon LJ. Academic procrastination: Frequency and cognitive behavioral correlates. J Counseling Psychol 1984;31:503-9.  Back to cited text no. 6
Hen M, Goroshit M. General and life-domain procrastination in highly educated adults in Israel. Front Psychol 2018;9:1173.  Back to cited text no. 7
Svartdal F, Granmo S, Færevaag FS. On the behavioral side of procrastination: Exploring behavioral delay in real-life settings. Front Psychol 2018;9:746.  Back to cited text no. 8
Madhan B, Kumar CS, Naik ES, Panda S, Gayathri H, Barik AK. Trait procrastination among dental students in India and its influence on academic performance. J Dent Educ 2012;76:1393-8.  Back to cited text no. 9
Steel P. The nature of procrastination: A meta-analytic and theoretical review of quintessential self-regulatory failure. Psychol Bull 2007;133:65-94.  Back to cited text no. 10
Monchek M, Muchnick S. Stop procrastinating. now! Personnel Admin 1988;33:14-9.  Back to cited text no. 11
Lakshminarayan N, Potdar S, Reddy SG. Relationship between procrastination and academic performance among a group of undergraduate dental students in India. J Dent Educ 2012;77:524-8.  Back to cited text no. 12
Erdw VW. A meta-analytically derived nomological network of procrastination: Personality and individual differences. Personality and Individual Differences 2003;35:1401-1418.  Back to cited text no. 13
Ozer BU, Demir A, Ferrari JR. Exploring academic procrastination among Turkish students: Possible gender differences in prevalence and reasons. J Soc Psychol 2009;149:241-57.  Back to cited text no. 14
Senécal C, Koestner R, Vallerand RJ. Self-regulation and academic procrastination. J Soc Psychol 1995;135:607-19.  Back to cited text no. 15
Mohammed AA. Academic procrastination among college students with learning disabilities: The role of positive and negative self-oriented perfectionism in terms of gender, specialty and grade. Int J Psycho-Educ Sci 2013;2:3-14.  Back to cited text no. 16
Duru E, Balkis M. The roles of academic procrastination tendency on the relationships among Self Doubt, Self Esteem and academic achievement. Educ Sci 2014;39:274-87.  Back to cited text no. 17
Onwuegbuzie AJ. Academic procrastinators and perfectionistic tendencies among graduate students. J Soc Behav Personality 2000;15:103-9.  Back to cited text no. 18
Nagarjuna P, Heralgi R, Garg Y, Garg K, Sharma AR, Shaik R. Procrastination among dental postgraduate students in Maharashtra. India J Res Adv Dent 2018;8:1:125-32.  Back to cited text no. 19
Evanya M. The effect of procrastination and stress on low effort and high effort tasks. Huron Univ Coll J Learning Motivat 2007;45:224-44.  Back to cited text no. 20
Wolters CA. Understanding procrastination from a self-regulated learning perspective. J Educ Psychol 2003;95:179-87.  Back to cited text no. 21
Chu AH, Choi JN. Rethinking procrastination: Positive effects of “active” procrastination behavior on attitudes and performance. J Soc Psychol 2005;145:245-64.  Back to cited text no. 22


  [Figure 1]

  [Table 1], [Table 2], [Table 3], [Table 4]


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