On the Positive Side of Avoidance Motivation: An Increase in Avoidance Motivation Reduces Procrastination among Students

Michal M. Schödl*, Aharon Raz, Avraham N. Kluger

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


People who procrastinate often pay a heavy price in terms of illness, stress, and poor performance. Because procrastination has harmful consequences, we predicted that avoidance motivation, a self-regulation system that protects people from harm, would also protect them against procrastination. We hypothesised that avoidance motivation reduces procrastination, despite the known destructive effects avoidance motivation has on thriving. In Study 1, students high in chronic-avoidance motivation had the lowest dropout rates from a bonus-granting longitudinal study. In Study 2, avoidance motivation was negatively related to delay in submitting a term paper, when controlling for chronic procrastination, self-efficacy, impulsiveness, and age. In Study 3, an experimental manipulation of avoidance motivation reduced procrastination three times, but only once significantly. In Study 4, manipulations of both avoidance motivation and approach motivation, relative to a control motivation, using a within-subjects design, indicated that the avoidance manipulation reduced procrastination in submitting subsequent reading reports, whereas the approach manipulation did not. We subjected all our results to a meta-analysis that indicated that avoidance motivation had a significant preventive effect on procrastination. We conclude that avoidance motivation can reduce procrastination, and suggest that our avoidance-manipulation techniques could be applied across a variety of organisational and educational settings.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)655-685
Number of pages31
JournalApplied Psychology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2018

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Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 International Association of Applied Psychology.


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