Jan 22nd 2009
From The Economist print edition
People procrastinate when asked to think in the abstract
TO SOME there is nothing so urgent that it cannot be postponed in favour of a cup of tea. Such procrastination is a mystery to psychologists, who wonder why people would sabotage themselves in this way. A team of researchers led by Sean McCrea of the University of Konstanz, in Germany, reckon they have found a piece of the puzzle. People act in a timely way when given concrete tasks but dawdle when they view them in abstract terms.