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Procrastination

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Introduction

Procrastination Sometimes students delay writing up homework or revising for examinations even though they want to succeed and achieve high grades. Instead they may go out with their friends, watch television or even do things that they would not normally do, such as tidying their room or doing the washing up. This tendency to put off tasks, in this case homework or examination revision, is called procrastination. (a) The behavioural psychological approach could explain the behaviour of procrastination in students in terms of operant conditioning. One characteristic of procrastination is the will to avoid the negative feelings involved with doing, for example, revision. This is an example of negative reinforcement: because the negative feelings are avoided, procrastination will be avoided in the future. Similarly, the alternatives to the tasks which the students are avoiding to do may appear more attractive. Therefore, going out with friends or watching the television may provide a feeling of pleasure, leading to positive reinforcement of the behaviour. Another form of negative reinforcement could be that past attempts at doing the school work or revision have failed, and so to avoid the frustration involved with attempting but failing to do well, not trying to do so avoids this frustration in the future. ...read more.

Middle

In addition to this, the student may feel guilty for not doing revision, and to avoid punishment from the superego will do things that they would normally not, such as tidying their room or washing up. Having done such things, they may feel that they have achieved at least some positive results, mitigating the fact that they have not done their school work. (b) A strength of the psychodynamic approach in explaining procrastination is that it is able to explain the reasons why students may preoccupy themselves in unusual activities in order to put off or avoid carrying out a large task. This is particularly advantageous as it explains why the students do things such as washing up, which may under normal circumstances seem unstimulating, when more attractive alternatives may available. A limitation of the approach is, however, that since this explanation relies on the unconscious mind to explain the behaviour, it assumes that students have little or no conscious choice over their procrastination. It is therefore a deterministic explanation. Similarly, it also removes from the student both accountability for their work, and responsibility for not doing it. ...read more.

Conclusion

This method of investigation may be criticised for only using one person in the case study. This means that the findings are unlikely to be representative of all people. This especially applies, since the psychoanalyst would be studying someone who already procrastinates, as opposed to a randomly selected student. Advantageously, however, the fact that a case study is being used means that lots of qualitative data can be derived from the findings. In addition, a particular problem of psychoanalytic methods is that they are very open to interpretation and may be subject to bias. Since psychoanalysis is based upon unfalsifiable theories, the findings from research using psychoanalytic methods may be open to a multitude of different interpretations, some of which may even be mutually exclusive, and yet none of which can be proved or disproved. Another disadvantage of this particular study is that by carrying out a case study on one person who procrastinates, it is impossible to explain why some students don't procrastinate. Nonetheless, the findings from the research could have implications for teaching and examination methods; for example, in order to avoid procrastination, it may be necessary to offer guidance to students. Clive Newstead ...read more.

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