People often assume that procrastination is a choice and that the personality trait — which sees people delay necessary tasks — is a sign of laziness.
However, new research suggests that genes may play a role.
Previous research has associated both biological and psychological factors with procrastination.
The results of a 2018 study showed that people with a tendency to procrastinate had a bigger amygdala — the section of the brain that processes emotions.
The same research team has now studied whether there is an association between the trait and genetics.
After examining identical and fraternal twins, the authors of a previous study, which featured in Psychological Science, concluded that 46% of the tendency to procrastinate might be down to genes.
However, researchers still do not know the specific genetic difference that could result in this trait.
Dr. Erhan Genç, from Ruhr-Universität Bochum in Germany, believes that he may now have the answer.
But, there is a catch: it only relates to women.
The expression of the TH gene differs among individuals, leading to varying levels of dopamine and other neurotransmitters in individual brains. Previous studies have already linked increased dopamine levels with impulsive behavior.
"The neurotransmitter dopamine has repeatedly been associated with increased cognitive flexibility in the past," notes Dr. Genç. "This is not fundamentally bad but is often accompanied by increased distractibility."
The chemical's ability to affect cognitive control may, therefore, affect whether a person delays a task or performs it efficiently.