The Pure Procrastination Scale
So you want to do our own research study on procrastination. Here’s the scale you have been looking for, the Irrational Procrastination Scale (IPS). Feel free to use it for any research purpose or clinical purposes and adjust the scale length or anchors as you see fit; these tend to make minimal differences in a scale’s validity.
It correlates with The Pure Procrastination Scale (PPS) at .96, which has been assessed and validated with the use of a global sample in “Arousal, avoidant and decisional procrastinators: Do they exist” (Steel, 2010). However, more recent work by Svartdal et al. (2016) indicates the IPS holds together much better than the PPS across international samples.
Utilizing an internet sampling method, the measure was tested using 16,413 adults in eight English-speaking countries (58.3% Women, 41.7% men) with an age mean and standard deviation of 38.3 and 14 years. According to this study, procrastination tendencies were associated mostly with age, gender, marital status, education, and nationality. The average procrastination scores for men and women were 3.65 and 3.5, respectively. Procrastinators were mostly among young, single-men with less education and resided in countries with lower levels of discipline. For more normative information, an epidemiological study of procrastination using this measure (“Sex, education and procrastination“) was published in the European Journal of Personality (Steel & Ferrari, 2013).
These procrastination measures was translated to other languages and its validity was assessed in several studies:
- Swedish (Rozental, Forsell, Svensson, Forsström, Andersson, & Carlbring, 2014)
- French (Rebetez, Rochat, Gay, & Van der Linden, 2014)
- Korean (Kim, Kim, Lee, Han, Carlbring, & Rozental, 2020)
- Norwegian (Svartdal, 2015)
- Indonesian (Prayitno, Siaputra & Lasmono, 2013)
- Polish (Stepien, & Topolewska, 2014)
- Russian (Klepikova & Kormacheva, 2019)
- Spanish (Guilera, Barrios, Penelo, Morin, Steel, & Gomez-Benito, 2018)
- Finland, Germany, Italy, Norway, Poland and Sweden (Svartdal et al., 2016)
- See also Frode Svartdal’s Norwegian website, where he includes easy available and validated translations versions of Finnish, Swedish, Norwegian, German, Italian and Polish IPS, the PPS and, and one measuring impulsiveness, the Susceptibility to Temptation Scale
One of the best recent reviews of the IPS is by Shaw and Zang (2021), who concluded that:
the IPS showed good reliability, content validity, structural validity, and substantive validity, and no DIF effects for gender. Based on the results of the current work together with previous validation studies using CTT (e.g., Svartdal et al., 2016; Svartdal, 2017; Kim et al., 2020), we thereby conclude that the IPS appears to be a compact scale with unidimensionality and the item fairness of the scale concerning gender allows for meaningful comparisons between population means in two gender groups, making it an appropriate instrument to assess individuals’ irrational procrastination
If you really want to use the PPS, I would recommend you rely on this 2017 publication: Irrational Delay Revisited: Examining Five Procrastination Scales in a Global Sample. With some excellent analysis by Frode Svardal again, he found that the middle five items creates an “even purer procrastination scale.” In an interesting example of multiple discovery — published in the month following ours — this was also identified in the publication “Assessing Procrastination: Dimensionality and Measurement Invariance of the General Procrastination Scale.” These items are:
- In preparation for some deadlines, I often waste time by doing other things.
- Even jobs that require little else except sitting down and doing them, I find that they seldom get done for days.
- I often find myself performing tasks that I had intended to do days before
- I am continually saying “I’ll do it tomorrow.”
- I generally delay before starting on work I have to do.
Typically, assess them on a 1 to 5 scale of your choosing.
Motivational Diagnostic Test
In addition to the procrastination measure, the Motivational Diagnostic Test is available, which can be used in order to find the motivational mechanisms that contribute to procrastination. The diagnostic measure is built upon the Temporal Motivational Theory. According to this theory, three factors can increase the likelihood of procrastination:
- Expectancy: Lower expectancies of success can result in higher degrees of procrastination
- Value: Tasks that have lower values (i.e., less interesting) from an individual’s perspective are usually postponed to a later time
- Impulsivity: Higher levels of impulsivity can make the person act upon short-term temptations instead of focusing on long-term goals.
To evaluate the ability of these factors to predict procrastination, the Motivational Diagnostic Test was administered to 1,279 respondents along with two measures of procrastination, including the Irrational Procrastination Scale (Steel, 2010), and the UPPS impulsive behavior scale (Whiteside & Lynam, 2001). The sample comprised of 50.3% male and 49.7% women with a mean age of 33 years. The reliability measures were high with .83 for Expectancy, .84 for Value, and .83 for Impulsiveness. The results showed that the three factors of expectancy, value, and impulsivity accounted for 49% of the variance in procrastination. The results also highlighted the fact that procrastination is mostly driven by impulsiveness, even though expectancy and value have influence on it as well. Impulsiveness either in the form of frequent distraction by short-term goals or lack of perseverance towards long-term goals can result in procrastination among people.
This research and measure was presented at the 7th Procrastination Research Conference Biennial Meeting in Amsterdam, Netherlands:
Steel, P. (2011). A diagnostic measure of procrastination. Paper presented at the 7th Procrastination Research Conference Biennial Meeting, Counseling the Procrastinator in Academic Settings, Amsterdam, Netherlands.
Wypych, M., Matuszewski, J., & Dragan, W. Ł. (2018). Roles of Impulsivity, Motivation, and Emotion Regulation in Procrastination–Path Analysis and Comparison Between Students and Non-students. Frontiers in Psychology, 9.
Again, you can freely use both the procrastination scale and the diagnostic test for either research or clinical purposes.
Rebetez, M. M. L., Rochat, L., Gay, P., & Van der Linden, M. (2014). Validation of a French version of the Pure Procrastination Scale (PPS). Comprehensive Psychiatry, 55(6), 1442-1447.
Rozental, A., Forsell, E., Svensson, A., Forsström, D., Andersson, G., & Carlbring, P. (2014). Psychometric evaluation of the Swedish version of the pure procrastination scale, the irrational procrastination scale, and the susceptibility to temptation scale in a clinical population. BMC psychology,2(1), 54.
Steel, P. (2010). Arousal, avoidant and decisional procrastinators: Do they exist? Personality and Individual Differences, 48, 926-934.
Steel, P., & Ferrari, J. (2013). Sex, education and procrastination: an epidemiological study of procrastinators’ characteristics from a global sample. European Journal of Personality, 27(1), 51-58.
Whiteside, S., & Lynam, D. (2001). The Five Factor Model and impulsivity: Using a structural model of personality to understand impulsivity. Personality and Individual Differences, 30(4), 669-689.