The psychology of procrastination

By Sunday, September 1, 2013 , , , , 0

The semester/term starts soon, or has already started for those of you in the Northern hemisphere with IB exams in May. (I know that those students taking the IB Diploma exams in November have been in school a very long time, but this applies equally to you). Very soon the work will be coming in, but “Hey! Never do today what you can put off till tomorrow.” This is procrastination, and it is all about decisions – the argument in your head between writing your essay and playing “Angry Birds”.  And the decision is…well, you know that play will always win out over work, right?

In the video below, Vik Nithy, a recently graduating student, takes a look at the psychology of procrastination, ad makes some great links with the biological level of analysis and the “monkey mind”.  The internal struggle in your head between Facebook and facing up to the essay is an argument between your pre-frontal cortex and your limbic system, and the limbic system always wins, because of the subconscious fight or flight response in the amygdala.  This is a mild anxiety response to a threatening stimulus – your essay. This connection between cognition and physiology is an example that would help you to meet the demands of the command term “Examine one interaction between cognition and physiology in terms of behaviour.”  A (difficult) article that provides evidence for a neural basis for decision-making is here.  The reference to procrastination is on p558.

The only way out is metacognition – think about your thinking and its consequences, break the task down into goals, and plan, plan, plan.  Especially plan what to do when you face a challenge.

See the talk below, by Vik Nithy @ TEDxYouth@TheScotsCollege.

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