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Precrastination can be defined as completing a task earlier than necessary despite incurring extra cost. This can refer to people who need to respond to emails or texts right away or people who need to wash the dishes as soon as they are done being used. The cognitive-load-reduction (CLEAR) hypothesis (VonderHaar et al., 2019) suggests precrastination is a form of cognitive offloading; completing a task early instead of having to remember to complete the task preserves cognitive resources for other tasks. The current study aims to examine if precrastination and cognitive offloading are directly related as a test of this hypothesis. This study will utilize an alphabetizing task where the participants will be asked to put a list of words in alphabetical order. The participants will also have to verify sets of math problems by determining which ones are correct or incorrect. The participants will have the option to choose when they want to complete the math task (before, during, or after the alphabetizing task). Precrastination is measured in this task based on when the participant chooses to verify the math problems relative to the alphabetizing task – verifying the math problems before starting the alphabetizing task or early within this task shows precrastination of math verification. For the second part of the experiment, participants complete the same two tasks. However, for the alphabetizing task participants are given a specific category of objects to list at the end no matter what letter they start with (e.g., animals). Participants will complete trials with reminders, trials without reminders, and then trials where they have the option to use or not use reminders. Results are expected to show a significant relationship between precrastination and cognitive offloading, such that those who rely on cognitive offloading will precrastinate more. The current study is expected to further support the CLEAR hypothesis and help us better understand why some people precrastinate.
Michaels, Liz and Marsh, Elizabeth, "WHY DO WE PRECRASTINATE? THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN PRECRASTINATION AND COGNITIVE OFFLOADING" (2022). University Research Symposium. 398.