Category: Cognitive Science / Cognitive Processes

PS13- #B43 - Evaluating the Distinction Between Aversive Indecisiveness and Procrastination: Anxiety, Anxiety Vulnerability, and Personality Traits

Saturday, Nov 18
2:45 PM – 3:45 PM
Location: Indigo Ballroom CDGH, Level 2, Indigo Level

Keywords: Cognitive Processes | Adult Anxiety | Cognitive Vulnerability

Indecisiveness has been defined as a dispositional trait (Germeijs & de Boeck, 2002). The most widely used measures of indecisiveness is Frost & Shows’ (1993) Indecisiveness Scale (IS). Spunt et al. (2009) found the IS was represented by two related factors, Aversive Indecisiveness and Avoidance Indecisiveness. Recent research (Lauderdale, in review) demonstrated that Aversive Indecisive, which reflects indecision due to anticipation of negative consequences, was more strongly predictive of anxiety, intolerance of uncertainty, and worry than Avoidant Indecisiveness. Aversive Indecisiveness aligns with the contemporary conceptualization of anxiety-related processes (Barlow, 2002; Beck & Clark, 2010).


Indecisiveness and procrastination have been used interchangeably in the literature (Ferrari & Pychyl, 2007), but are considered distinct (Rassin, 2007). Procrastination has been defined as a dispositional trait resulting in delay of activity completion (van Eerde, 2003) despite knowing the delay may result in negative consequences (Steel, 2007). Procrastination is robustly predicted by the personality trait of conscientiousness and its facet, self-discipline (van Eerde, 2003). The relationship between procrastination, neuroticism, and anxiety tends to be inconsistent (Steel, 2007).


We assessed the distinction between Aversive Indecisiveness and procrastination by examining the relationship between these variables and anxiety, worry, vulnerability for anxiety, and various personality dimensions. It was anticipated that Aversive Indecisiveness would be more strongly correlated with anxiety, worry, and vulnerability for anxiety than procrastination, which was expected to have a stronger relationship with conscientiousness. Data has been collected from 205 undergraduate participants and preliminary data is available for 101 participants. Participants completed measures of anxiety, neuroticism, conscientiousness, immoderation, and self-discipline (Goldberg et al., 2006). Participants also completed the Intolerance of Uncertainty Scale (IUS; Buhr & Dugas, 2002), Indecisiveness Scale (Frost & Shows, 1993; Rassin et al., 2007), Pure Procrastination Scale (PPS; Steel, 2010), and the Penn State Worry Questionnaire (PSWQ; Meyer et al., 1990). There were no differences in the correlations between Aversive Indecisiveness and PPS with anxiety, neuroticism, and the IUS (Zs ranged from .30 to 1.10, p > .05). The correlation between Aversive Indecisiveness and the PSWQ fell short of being larger than the PWSQ and PPS correlation (Z(100) = 1.57, p = .06). Aversive Indecisiveness was significantly correlated with immoderation (r(100) =.23, p < .05) while the PPS was not. The PPS was strongly correlated with conscientiousness (r(100) = -.64, p < .01) and self-discipline (r(100) = -.72, p < .01). Aversive Indecisiveness did not correlate with conscientiousness (r(100) = -.08, p > .05) and the Aversive Indecisiveness and self-discipline correlation (r(100) = -.26, p < .05) was significantly smaller than the PPS and self-discipline correlation (Z(100) = 5.11, p < .01). These initial results do not suggest a clear distinction between Aversive Indecisiveness and procrastination based on anxiety related processes, but these findings are preliminary and likely changeable. 

Sean A. Lauderdale

Assistant Professor
Texas A&M University-Commerce
Commerce, Texas