Procrastination May Be Genetic

Douglas A. McIntyre

Are some people naturally lazy? Does working hard run against the genetic makeup of some people? A news study shows that procrastination may be related to genes.

Medical News Today reviewed an academics paper entitled “The Structural and Functional Signature of Action Control” which was published in the SAGA Journals. One region of the brain in people who procrastinate is often larger than normal. Called the amygdala, it helps control human emotions. The amygdala is two clusters of nerves deeply embedded near the front of the brain. Some animals also have amygdala.

One of the researchers who wrote the study about the potential link between genetics and procrastination made another, startling discovery, Dr. Erhan Genç, from Ruhr-Universität Bochum in Germany, who believes his research supports the link said, “there is a catch: it only relates to women.”

Dr. Genç’s work was done with other researchers from the Technical University of Dresden. The research was done with 278 men and women the group deemed as “healthy.”  The focus was on a single gene which creates an enzyme called tyrosine hydroxylase (TH). Medical News Daily reports” This gene helps regulate the production of dopamine — a chemical messenger that plays a role in brain processes such as attention, memory, and motivation.”

The presence of dopamine is different from person to person. Dr. Genç says this affects “cognitive flexibility”.  This flexibility is related to whether people can multi-task. Those who cannot may be forced to make fewer decisions simultaneously. This, in turn, makes some people procrastinate, or appear lazy.

As for the difference between men and women, the study shows that women with the TH gene produce more dopamine than men. Therefore, they are more likely to procrastinate, based on the research’s statistics. Since the research team could not find other statistical links between the gene in women and their behavior, they could not confirm the exact reasons for the difference. The other possibility they mentioned but said was not conclusive, was the presence of the female hormone estrogen. Dr. Genç said, “The relationship [between the TH gene and female procrastination] is not yet understood fully, but the female sex hormone estrogen seems to play a role,”

While Genç and his team were not able to prove their theories entirely, they believed strongly that there is a link between genes and procrastination. In other words. when people appear lazy, it may not be their fault. Although, there is evidence that some circumstances can change genes, and one of them is poverty.