The functional mediation of flow between achievement anxiety, academic procrastination, and academic performance

Naomi Mendelson, Fordham University


A substantial body of empirical literature supports the prevalence of academic procrastination as a self-perceived problem for college students, with consequences ranging from reduced academic achievement to substantially increased stress and poor quality of life. This study assessed the utility of Csikszentmihalyi's (1975) phenomenological theory of flow in explaining academic procrastination. Flow theory encompasses a number of correlates of academic procrastination and is a unified framework with proven ability to integrate motivation, personality, and subjective experience. It was hypothesized that the variability in personality characteristics, subjective experience, and academic outcomes among procrastinators could be reconciled in the context of flow. The present study examined whether academic procrastination and both facilitating and debilitating achievement anxiety would be predictive of academic performance, and whether these relationships would be mediated by the occurrence of flow. Data gathered from 135 undergraduates at a private urban college were analyzed via Pearson correlations and a series of simultaneous regression analyses. Calculations of direct and indirect effects were conducted to test the efficacy of a path analytic model positing flow as the key mediating variable. Significant positive relationships were found between flow and facilitating achievement anxiety, exam scores, and GPA. Exam scores and GPA were also positively correlated. Significant negative relationships were found between debilitating achievement anxiety and facilitating achievement anxiety, as well as between debilitating achievement anxiety and flow. A notable finding was that academic procrastination was uncorrelated with any of the other research variables. Path analyses indicated that debilitating achievement anxiety was the only significant individual predictor of flow in the model, and flow was not found to functionally mediate any of the observed relationships. It is apparent that greater understanding of the mechanisms of action of both procrastination and the flow components of academic performance are pivotal to informing effective interventions in both academic and nonacademic settings.

Subject Area

Academic guidance counseling|Educational psychology|Psychotherapy

Recommended Citation

Mendelson, Naomi, "The functional mediation of flow between achievement anxiety, academic procrastination, and academic performance" (2007). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI3255013.