Peiyuan Zhang (Ma Lab)
PhD Candidate, Ma Lab
Designing a behavioral experiment to study the factors underlying procrastination
Procrastination is ubiquitous, but its underlying processes are poorly understood. Empirical studies of procrastination have used self-report questionnaires and therefore have limited use as the basis for process models. I argue that empirical studies should emphasize the time course of progress, as typical procrastination behavior is characterized by a delay in starting the work and rushing in the end. We designed a reading task to quantify the time course of procrastination. Subjects are assigned a few days to work online on a boring and lengthy reading comprehension task. We control reward timing (delayed versus immediate) and partial credit given (yes/no). Uncontrolled independent variables are temporal discounting (measured using an intertemporal choice task), and distractibility (measured as the time the subject spends on another activity on their laptop while working on the reading task). I will present pilot data and ask for your feedback on my experimental design and data analysis plan.