Discussion paper

DP6668 Procrastination and Impatience

There is a large body of literature documenting both a preference for immediacy and a tendency to procrastinate. O'Donoghue and Rabin (1999a,b, 2001) and Choi et al. (2005) model these behaviours as two faces of the same phenomenon. In this paper, we use a combination of lab, field, and survey evidence to study whether these two types of behaviour are indeed linked. To measure immediacy we had subjects choose between a series of smaller-sooner and larger-later rewards. Both rewards were paid with a check in order to control for transaction costs. To measure procrastination we use the subjects' actual behaviour in cashing the check and completing tasks on time. Our results lend support to the hypothesis that subjects who have a preference for immediacy are indeed more likely to procrastinate.


Zingales, L, P Sapienza and E Reuben (2008), ‘DP6668 Procrastination and Impatience‘, CEPR Discussion Paper No. 6668. CEPR Press, Paris & London. https://cepr.org/publications/dp6668