Procrastination and emotion regulation

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In one survey of Intro Psych instructors, 25% did not cover emotion (Nevid et al., 2023). That used to be me. As I wrote in this blog post from September, 2022, seeing the results of people losing their temper prompted me to add emotion—especially emotion regulation—into my Intro Psych course.

As spring quarter came to a close, I asked my students for the top ten important things they learned in the course. (See this August 2019 blog post for details on my top ten assignment.) One of my students listed better anger management skills as her most important thing learned. While we didn’t discuss anger management explicitly, it doesn’t require much effort to see how the emotion regulation strategies would apply to managing anger specifically.

There is plenty of evidence that a cause of procrastination is emotion regulation. In one intervention with college students, teaching them about emotion regulation strategies via online modules decreased reported incidents of procrastination as compared to waitlist controls (Schuenemann et al., 2022). The training used in that study totaled nine hours. I’m not sure that the training needs to be that extensive to have similar procrastination reduction effects. Would, say, 15 minutes of in-class time spent discussing how procrastination could be the result of emotion regulation be enough to help students reduce their own procrastination? There’s an empirical question ripe for investigation.

If emotion regulation is a new topic for you, Stanford emotion regulation researcher James Gross gave an excellent 25-minute overview at the 2022 American Psychological Association convention. Watch it here.



Nevid, J. S., Keating, L. H., & Jaeger, A. J. (2023). Topical coverage in teaching introductory psychology: A national survey of instructors. Scholarship of Teaching and Learning in Psychology. Advance online publication.

Schuenemann, L., Scherenberg, V., von Salisch, M., & Eckert, M. (2022). “I’ll worry about it tomorrow” – fostering emotion regulation skills to overcome procrastination. Frontiers in Psychology, 13, 780675.

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About the Author
Sue Frantz has taught psychology since 1992. She has served on several APA boards and committees, and was proud to serve the members of the Society for the Teaching of Psychology as their 2018 president. In 2013, she was the inaugural recipient of the APA award for Excellence in the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning at a Two-Year College or Campus. She received in 2016 the highest award for the teaching of psychology--the Charles L. Brewer Distinguished Teaching of Psychology Award. She presents nationally and internationally on the topics of educational technology and the pedagogy of psychology. She is co-author with Doug Bernstein and Steve Chew of Teaching Psychology: A Step-by-Step Guide, 3rd ed. and is co-author with Charles Stangor on Introduction to Psychology, 4.0.