07 April 2014

Impulsivity And Procrastination Are Aspects Of The Same Thing

Twin studies show that inherited component of impulsivity and procrastination arise from a single genotype.  In other words, they are both manifestations of the same underlying trait:
181 identical-twin pairs and 166 fraternal-twin pairs complete several surveys intended to probe their tendencies toward impulsivity and procrastination, as well as their ability to set and maintain goals. They found that procrastination is indeed heritable, just like impulsivity. Not only that, there seems to be a complete genetic overlap between procrastination and impulsivity -- that is, there are no genetic influences that are unique to either trait alone.
The investigators at the University of Colorado at Boulder, "Gustavson and colleagues are now investigating how procrastination and impulsivity are related to higher-level cognitive abilities, such as executive functions, and whether these same genetic influences are related to other aspects of self-regulation in our day-to-day lives."

 The strong emerging inference is that at least some aspects or subtypes of ADHD, impulsivity, procrastination, grit and "W" (the key work ethic factor in academic and economic success that is orthogonal to IQ) may all be fundamentally part of the same dimensional personality trait.

The underlying journal article is: D. E. Gustavson, A. Miyake, J. K. Hewitt, N. P. Friedman. "Genetic Relations Among Procrastination, Impulsivity, and Goal-Management Ability: Implications for the Evolutionary Origin of Procrastination." Psychological Science (2014); DOI: 10.1177/0956797614526260


Jude said...

My procrastination is directly related to my low self-esteem and to mental illness. I am not impulsive. So maybe my procrastination isn't genetic--maybe it's just procrastination born out of fear.

andrew said...

The match between phenotype (i.e. behavior) and genotype (i.e. relevant genes) for mental health/behavioral traits is almost never more than 50%. Further, many traits have multiple independent causes, just as fever, for example, can be caused by multiple physical disorders.

Dave Barnes said...

I waited before posting.