the science of putting it off

Chronic procrastination can feel like a character flaw, but a new study indicates that rather than lamenting your lack of will power, you can just blame your parents.

Researchers at the University of Colorado, Boulder, surveyed pairs of identical and fraternal twins about their tendency to procrastinate and to set and meet goals, and their level of impulsiveness. Identical twins were much more likely to match answers than fraternals, showing that genetics plays a significant role in forming these habits. “Learning more about the underpinnings of procrastination may help develop interventions to prevent it,” study author Daniel Gustavson tells

Researchers also believe impulsiveness, which overlaps with procrastination tendencies, may have given our ancestors an evolutionary advantage by helping them focus on day-to-day survival rather than long-term goals. Procrastination could be a by-product of that thinking, showing how behavioral traits that evolved millennia ago can clash with the demands of modern life.

The Week Magazine