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Jia-Wei Lim, Joo-Yee Phang, Mei-Yan Low and Chee-Seng Tan

Abstract

Procrastination has been found to negatively impact academic and job performance. However, little attention has been given to the effect of procrastination on creative performance. Moreover, past studies have mainly focused on the antecedent role of anxiety in procrastination. The impact of procrastination on anxiety is not clear, though literature has suggested that procrastination may induce anxiety. The primary question addressed in the present study is whether and how procrastination influences creativity. Some exceptional studies have indicated that procrastination allows incubation and hence is conducive to creativity. However, on the basis of the literature, we argued and hypothesized that procrastination may impair creativity through state anxiety. A total of 218 Malaysian undergraduate students were recruited via social networking sites and responded to a packet of online survey questionairres, including self-report of procrastination tendency, state and trait anxiety, and creativity. Results showed that procrastination was positively associated with state and trait anxiety and negatively correlated with creativity. A negative relationship was also observed between state and trait anxiety and creativity. In addition, mediation analysis supported our hypothesis that state anxiety mediates the relationship between procrastination and creativity after controlling for the effect of trait anxiety. Specifically, people tend to experience feeling anxious when they postpone task completion. The high level of anxiety, in turn, is negatively associated with creative performance. As a whole, the findings not only offer the first empirical evidence supportive of the detrimental effect of procrastination on creativity, but also reveal the underlying process. Future directions and limitations are also explored.