Depression. Depression, low energy, learned helplessness, and pessimism are closely related to each other and to neuroticism, irrational beliefs, and low self-efficacy or self-esteem. Beck (1993), for example, describes depression as being due to irrational beliefs that result in pessimism and self- dislike. Similarly, several studies have shown that neuroticism greatly increases susceptibility to depression (Ruiz-Caballero & Bermudez, 1995; Saklofske, Kelly, & Jansen, 1995). Costa and McCrae (1992) go so far as to include depression as a facet of neuroticism in their personality scale. Several researchers argue that learned helplessness and pessimism are strongly connected to depression, both theoretically and empirically (Abramson, Metalsky, & Alloy, 1989; Peterson, Colvin, & Lin, 1992). In addition, McCown, Johnson, and Petzel (1989) conducted a principal components analysis on several psychological inventories administered to a group of procrastinators. They found that depressed affect, neuroticism, and diminished feelings of control over the situation tended to load together, indicating that collectively they could represent at least one of the causes of procrastination.
The Nature of Procrastination 17 Clinical depression has several characteristics that make it a likely suspect for causing procrastination. Depressed people are often unable to take pleasure in life‟s activities, tend to lack energy, and have problems concentrating ( DSM-IV , 1994), all symptoms that make task completion difficult. The Beck Depression Inventory (Beck & Beck, 1972) even includes an item reminiscent of procrastination: “I put off making decisions more than I used to.” As energy wanes, working apparently becomes painful or more difficult (Baumeister, Heatherton, & Tice, 1994). Burka and Yuen (1983) also discuss the fact that, when we are tired, it is harder to initiate tasks. Openness to Experience: Intelligence/Aptitude Openness to experience is sometimes referred to as culture, intellect, or need for cognition. As McCrae (1996) describes it, “Openness is a broad and general dimension, seen in vivid fantasy, artistic sensitivity, depth of feeling, behavioral flexibility, intellectual curiosity, and unconvention al attitudes” (p. 323). Also, of the big -five personality traits, openness shows the strongest relationship with intelligence and scholastic aptitude (Beier & Ackerman, 2001), which are consequently summarized here. No direct relationship has yet been posited between openness or intelligence and procrastination, and accordingly, none is expected. Agreeableness According to the clinical literature (Burka & Yuen, 1983; Knaus, 1979), rebelliousness, hostility, and disagreeableness are thought to be major motivations for procrastination. Those with these personality traits are more likely to experience externally imposed schedules as aversive and thus to avoid them. By delaying work and starting it on one‟s own schedule, one also reasserts one‟s autonomy. The po ssibility of this etiology has led to the development of paradoxical treatments; for example, people are directed to procrastinate and, when they rebel