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Procrastination is in your genes

By Alexandra Sifferlin, TIME.com
updated 9:41 AM EDT, Tue April 8, 2014
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Tendency to procrastinate is affected by genetic factors
  • Procrastination and impulsivity are genetically linked
  • Learning more may help us develop ways to prevent procrastination

(TIME.com) -- A study by researchers at the University of Colorado at Boulder has found that a tendency to procrastinate is affected by genetic factors, which are also linked to a propensity to be impulsive.

Everybody has put off today what can be done tomorrow. And that might be because procrastination is in your genes, a new study published in the journal Psychological Science suggests.

But when it comes to delaying, not everyone is created equal. Some are significantly more likely to procrastinate than others, so researchers at the University of Colorado at Boulder looked into whether this bad habit might have its roots in genetics by surveying 181 identical twin pairs and 166 fraternal twin pairs. The twins were surveyed on their ability to set and maintain goals, propensity to procrastinate and impulsivity.

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Prior research has indicated that procrastination and impulsivity are genetically linked. Being impulsive has an evolutionary advantage, the researchers point out, because it would have helped our ancestors with everyday survival.

Procrastination, on the other hand, may be more of a modern phenomenon, since we now focus on long-term goals, from which we can easily get distracted.

Based on the behavioral similarities in twins, the researchers concluded that procrastination can indeed be genetic, and that it seems to have some genetic overlap with impulsivity.

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The researchers also suggest that procrastination is an evolutionary by-product of making the rash decisions that go along with being impulsive.

"Learning more about the underpinnings of procrastination may help develop interventions to prevent it, and help us overcome our ingrained tendencies to get distracted and lose track of work," study author Daniel Gustavson said in a statement.

Now the only thing chronic procrastinators might care about is, will there ever be a cure?

This story was originally published on TIME.com

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