The Relationship of Procrastination With a Mastery Goal Versus an Avoidance Goal

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Goals can be classified into many different dimensions. One of the most popular models is the 2×2, approach vs. avoidance vs. mastery vs. performance model:


Approach Avoidance
Mastery Mastery-Approach Mastery-Avoidance
Performance Performance-Approach Performance-Avoidance


To better understand what each of these dimensions mean, you can read this page on goal setting or this study which first proposed this model. Although past research agreed that mastery goals are negatively correlated with procrastination (that is, those who make mastery goals are less likely to procrastinate), while avoidance goals are positively correlated with procrastination (that is, those who make avoidance goals are more likely to procrastinate), there has been no consensus on which dimension is more important – mastery/performance or avoidance/approach.

As can be seen in the table at the top of this page, the avoidance/approach dimension is more important for predicting procrastination than the mastery/performance dimension. Specifically, those with a mastery-approach orientation were the least likely to procrastinate, while those with a mastery-avoidance orientation were the most likely to procrastinate.

Study Variables

Participants – 307 college students

Independent Variable

Goal Orientation – 2×2 achievement goal orientation scale (approach vs. avoidance vs. mastery vs. performance). Read about it here.

Outcome Variable

Procrastination (API) – Measured using 19-item Aitken Procrastination Inventory, with Likert style questions, (e.g. how true or false – “I delay starting things until the last minute.”)

Abstract here.

Hee, E. (2009). The relationship of procrastination with a mastery goal versus an avoidance goal. Social Behavior and Personality37(7), 911-920.

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