Fear of missing out (FOMO): overview, theoretical underpinnings, and literature review on relations with severity of negative affectivity and problematic technology use

Jon D. Elhai Haibo Yang Christian Montag About the authors

Abstract

This article discusses the fear of missing out (FOMO) on rewarding experiences, an important psychological construct in contemporary times. We present an overview of the FOMO construct and its operational definition and measurement. Then, we review recent empirical research on FOMO’s relationship with levels of online social engagement, problematic technology and internet communication use, negative affectivity, and sociodemographic variables. Additionally, we discuss theoretical conceptualizations regarding possible causes of FOMO and how FOMO may drive problematic internet technology use. Finally, we discuss future directions for the empirical study of FOMO.

Addictive behavior; anxiety; social anxiety; depression; smartphone


Introduction

The fear of missing out (FOMO) on rewarding experiences has received increasing empirical study in recent years. Central to FOMO is the perceived need to persistently stay connected with one’s social network, resulting in frequent (and for some people, excessive) use of social networking sites (SNS) and messaging services.11. Przybylski AK, Murayama K, DeHaan CR, Gladwell V. Motivational, emotional, and behavioral correlates of fear of missing out. Comput Human Behav. 2013;29:1841-8. The enhanced scientific focus on FOMO coincides with growing societal debate about whether too much digital “screen time” is harmful to children and adults.22. Orben A, Przybylski AK. The association between adolescent well-being and digital technology use. Nat Hum Behav. 2019;3:173-82.,33. Elhai JD, Dvorak RD, Levine JC, Hall BJ. Problematic smartphone use: a conceptual overview and systematic review of relations with anxiety and depression psychopathology. J Affect Disord. 2017;207:251-9. However, the empirical literature on FOMO has not yet been synthesized into a review paper. Our focus in this paper is to define and discuss the FOMO construct and its theoretical underpinnings, as well as review the recent empirical literature on relationships between FOMO and levels of online social engagement, problematic internet use (PIU), negative affectivity, and sociodemographic characteristics.

Background, definition, and measurement of FOMO

FOMO was first introduced in media outlets in the early 2010s.44. Fake C. FOMO and social media [Internet]. 2011 Mar 15 [cited 2020 Mar 19]. http://www.caterina.net/2011/03/15/fomo-and-social-media/
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At that time, SNS use had grown exponentially around the world.66. Hitlin P. Internet, social media use and device ownership in U.S. have plateaued after years of growth [Internet]. 2018 Sep 28 [cited 2020 Mar 19]. http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2018/09/28/internet-social-media-use-and-device-ownership-in-u-s-have-plateaued-after-years-of-growth/
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With the dissemination of means to check SNS, especially the increasing ubiquity of smartphones, it has become easy to learn about potentially rewarding experiences (online and offline) that one may be missing. Incidentally, from early on FOMO was characterized as an anxiety-provoking construct in popular media.44. Fake C. FOMO and social media [Internet]. 2011 Mar 15 [cited 2020 Mar 19]. http://www.caterina.net/2011/03/15/fomo-and-social-media/
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FOMO has been defined in scientific literature as involving two specific primary components: a) apprehension that others are having rewarding experiences from which one is absent, and b) the persistent desire to stay connected with people in one’s social network.11. Przybylski AK, Murayama K, DeHaan CR, Gladwell V. Motivational, emotional, and behavioral correlates of fear of missing out. Comput Human Behav. 2013;29:1841-8. The first component maps onto the cognitive aspect of anxiety (e.g., worry, rumination, etc.). The latter component involves a behavioral strategy aimed at relieving such anxiety – analogous to how compulsions aim (though maladaptively) to relieve anxiety in obsessive compulsive disorder. Currently, this behavioral component of FOMO most often involves frequent checking of SNS and messaging services to maintain social connections and avoid missing out on rewarding experiences.11. Przybylski AK, Murayama K, DeHaan CR, Gladwell V. Motivational, emotional, and behavioral correlates of fear of missing out. Comput Human Behav. 2013;29:1841-8.

The persistent online checking behavior inherent in FOMO is not only active, i.e. when people have time to proactively browse their internet-enabled devices such as smartphones, but is also frequently reactive (or perhaps passive) through the many social-related notifications received over the course of the day – to which there is a compulsion to respond. On one hand, social-related notifications are helpful for one’s social life and are rated favourably88. Paul CL, Komlodi A, Lutters WG. Again?!! The emotional experience of social notification interruptions. Human-Computer Interaction-INTERACT 2011, Part 2: 13th IFIP TC 13 International Conference, Lisbon, Portugal, September 5-9, 2011, Proceedings. p. 471-8.,99. Paul CL, Komlodi A, Lutters WG. Interruptive notifications in support of task management. Int J Hum Comput Stud. 2015;79:20-34. because they satisfy and alleviate FOMO. Online social interaction can also enhance social capital for many people.1010. Cheng C, Wang HY, Sigerson L, Chau CL. Do the socially rich get richer? A nuanced perspective on social network site use and online social capital accrual. Psychol Bull. 2019;145:734-64. On the other hand, interruptive smartphone and computer notifications (and associated checking behavior) are known to have adverse effects. Such notifications can result in a distracted and less focused daily experience, impairing attention1111. Stothart C, Mitchum A, Yehnert C. The attentional cost of receiving a cell phone notification. J Exp Psychol Hum Percept Perform. 2015;41:893-7. and interrupting work, school,1212. Kushlev K, Proulx JD, Dunn E. “Silence your phones”: smartphone notifications increase inattention and hyperactivity symptoms. Conference: CHI' 2016, At San Jose, CA, USA. p. 1011-20.,1313. Duke E, Montag C. Smartphone addiction, daily interruptions and self-reported productivity. Addict Behav Rep. 2017;6:90-5. and other daily life activities1414. Elhai JD, Rozgonjuk D, Alghraibeh AM, Yang H. Disrupted daily activities from interruptive smartphone notifications: relations with depression and anxiety severity and the mediating role of boredom proneness [Internet]. First Published June 18, 2019 [cited 2020 Mar 19]. http://www.journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/0894439319858008
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due to “switching costs,” which make it difficult to return to and complete the task at hand.1515. Salvucci DD, Taatgen NA. Threaded cognition: an integrated theory of concurrent multitasking. Psychol Rev. 2008;115:101-30. Thus, FOMO can drive excessive checking for and responding to SNS notifications, making it difficult to remain productive in daily life.1616. Rozgonjuk D, Elhai JD, Ryan T, Scott G. Fear of missing out is associated with disrupted activities from receiving smartphone notifications and surface learning in college students. Comput Educ. 2019;140:103590. In this context, we also mention growing discussion on the need to regulate the number of elements built in to social media apps that elicit FOMO1717. Alutaybi A, McAlaney J, Stefanidis A, Phalp K, Ali R. Designing social networks to combat fear of missing out. In the 32nd Human Computer Interaction Conference (British HCI’18) – Position Papers Track. 02-06 Jul, 2018., At In the 32nd Human Computer Interaction Conference (British HCI’18) – Position Papers Track. 02-06 Jul, 2018. Belfast, Northern Ireland.,1818. Montag C, Lachmann B, Herrlich M, Zweig K. Addictive features of social media/messenger platforms and freemium games against the background of psychological and economic theories. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2019 Jul 23;16(14). pii: E2612. doi: https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16142612.
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in an attempt to prolong usage time to harvest more personal data in the age of surveillance capitalism.1919. Zuboff S. Big other: surveillance capitalism and the prospects of an information civilization. J Inf Technol. 2015;30:75-89.,2020. Zuboff S. The age of surveillance capitalism: The fight for a human future at the new frontier of power. London: Profile Books; 2019.

Several self-report scales have been developed to measure FOMO, of which the most widely used is the 10-item Likert-type FOMO Scale developed by Przybylski et al.11. Przybylski AK, Murayama K, DeHaan CR, Gladwell V. Motivational, emotional, and behavioral correlates of fear of missing out. Comput Human Behav. 2013;29:1841-8. This scale includes items such as “I fear others have more rewarding experiences than me,” and “When I miss out on a planned get-together it bothers me.” Another similar scale is Alt’s FOMO Scale, with 17-item2121. Alt D. College students’ academic motivation, media engagement and fear of missing out. Comput Human Behav. 2015;49:111-9. and 10-item2222. Alt D. Students’ wellbeing, fear of missing out, and social media engagement for leisure in higher education learning environments. Curr Psychol. 2018;37:128-38. versions. A third scale added items to the Przybylski FOMO Scale by incorporating state-based FOMO content to distinguish it from trait-based FOMO.2323. Wegmann E, Oberst U, Stodt B, Brand M. Online-specific fear of missing out and Internet-use expectancies contribute to symptoms of Internet-communication disorder. Addict Behav Rep. 2017;5:33-42. The authors used the two FOMO Scale items described above as examples of trait-based FOMO, and added state-based FOMO items such as “I am continuously online in order to not miss out on anything” and “I fear not to be up-to-date in my social networking sites.” Additionally, some research has used behavioral measures to examine FOMO by assessing the physiological distress (e.g., heart rate and blood pressure) of being separated from a smartphone and SNS.2424. Cheever NA, Rosen LD, Carrier LM, Chavez A. Out of sight is not out of mind: the impact of restricting wireless mobile device use on anxiety levels among low, moderate and high users. Comput Human Behav. 2014;37:290-7.,2525. Clayton RB, Leshner G, Almond A. The extended iSelf: the impact of iPhone separation on cognition, emotion, and physiology. J Comput Mediat Commun. 2015;20:119-35.

Several studies have explored the latent dimensions of FOMO by using exploratory and/or confirmatory factor analysis to better understand this construct. Some work has tested and found support for a single latent dimension.2626. Can G, Satici SA. Adaptation of fear of missing out scale (FoMOs): Turkish version validity and reliability study. Psicol Reflex Crit. 2019;32:3.

27. Elhai JD, Levine JC, Alghraibeh AM, Alafnan AA, Aldraiweesh AA, Hall BJ. Fear of missing out: testing relationships with negative affectivity, online social engagement, and problematic smartphone use. Comput Human Behav. 2018;89:289-98.
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Wegmann et al.2323. Wegmann E, Oberst U, Stodt B, Brand M. Online-specific fear of missing out and Internet-use expectancies contribute to symptoms of Internet-communication disorder. Addict Behav Rep. 2017;5:33-42. added the previously described state-based content to the Przybylski et al.11. Przybylski AK, Murayama K, DeHaan CR, Gladwell V. Motivational, emotional, and behavioral correlates of fear of missing out. Comput Human Behav. 2013;29:1841-8. FOMO Scale and refined it through exploratory factor analysis with a sample of German participants. They then validated the expanded scale with confirmatory factor analysis in a separate German sample, revealing a two-dimensional model involving trait- and state-based FOMO factors.2323. Wegmann E, Oberst U, Stodt B, Brand M. Online-specific fear of missing out and Internet-use expectancies contribute to symptoms of Internet-communication disorder. Addict Behav Rep. 2017;5:33-42.,2929. Balta S, Emirtekin E, Kircaburun K, Griffiths MD. Neuroticism, trait fear of missing out, and phubbing: The mediating role of state fear of missing out and problematic instagram use [Internet]. 2018 [cited 2010 Mar 19]. http://www.link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11469-018-9959-8
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Another study revealed two FOMO factors involving missing out on the experiences of others, and the use of rumination strategies for controlling one’s social experiences.3030. Casale S, Fioravanti G. Factor structure and psychometric properties of the Italian version of the fear of missing out scale in emerging adults and adolescents. Addict Behav. 2020;102: 106179. Finally, other research has discovered three FOMO factors in social, news, and commercial information.2121. Alt D. College students’ academic motivation, media engagement and fear of missing out. Comput Human Behav. 2015;49:111-9.,2222. Alt D. Students’ wellbeing, fear of missing out, and social media engagement for leisure in higher education learning environments. Curr Psychol. 2018;37:128-38.

FOMO appears to be a universal phenomenon, having been investigated and supported as a valid construct in numerous countries and languages. For example, FOMO has been studied in samples from Israel,2222. Alt D. Students’ wellbeing, fear of missing out, and social media engagement for leisure in higher education learning environments. Curr Psychol. 2018;37:128-38. Turkey,2929. Balta S, Emirtekin E, Kircaburun K, Griffiths MD. Neuroticism, trait fear of missing out, and phubbing: The mediating role of state fear of missing out and problematic instagram use [Internet]. 2018 [cited 2010 Mar 19]. http://www.link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11469-018-9959-8
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Belgium,3131. Beyens I, Frison E, Eggermont S. “I don’t want to miss a thing”: Adolescents’ fear of missing out and its relationship to adolescents’ social needs, Facebook use, and Facebook related stress. Comput Human Behav. 2016;64:1-8. Poland,3232. Błachnio A, Przepio?rka A. Facebook intrusion, fear of missing out, narcissism, and life satisfaction: a cross-sectional study. Psychiatry Res. 2018;259:514-9. the United Kingdom,3333. Buglass SL, Binder JF, Betts LR, Underwood JD. Motivators of online vulnerability: The impact of social network site use and FOMO. Comput Human Behav. 2017;66:248-55. New Zealand,3434. Riordan B, Flett J, Hunter J, Scarf D, Conner TS. Fear of missing out (FoMO): the relationship between FoMO, alcohol use, and alcohol-related consequences in college students. J Psychiatry Brain Funct. 2015;2. Germany,3535. Reer F, Tang WY, Quandt T. Psychosocial well-being and social media engagement: the mediating roles of social comparison orientation and fear of missing out. New Media Soc 2019;21:1486-505. Italy,3030. Casale S, Fioravanti G. Factor structure and psychometric properties of the Italian version of the fear of missing out scale in emerging adults and adolescents. Addict Behav. 2020;102: 106179. China,3636. Elhai JD, Yang H, Fang J, Bai X, Hall BJ. Depression and anxiety symptoms are related to problematic smartphone use severity in Chinese young adults: fear of missing out as a mediator. Addict Behav. 2020;101:105962. Bosnia,3737. Tomczyk Ł, Selmanagic-Lizde E. Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) among youth in Bosnia and Herzegovina: scale and selected mechanisms. Child Youth Serv Rev. 2018;88:541-9. India,3838. Dhir A, Yossatorn Y, Kaur P, Chen S. Online social media fatigue and psychological wellbeing: a study of compulsive use, fear of missing out, fatigue, anxiety and depression. Int J Inf Manage. 2018;40:141-52. Latin America,3939. Oberst U, Wegmann E, Stodt B, Brand M, Chamarro A. Negative consequences from heavy social networking in adolescents: the mediating role of fear of missing out. J Adolesc. 2017;55:51-60. and various regions within the United States.2727. Elhai JD, Levine JC, Alghraibeh AM, Alafnan AA, Aldraiweesh AA, Hall BJ. Fear of missing out: testing relationships with negative affectivity, online social engagement, and problematic smartphone use. Comput Human Behav. 2018;89:289-98.,4040. Baker ZG, Krieger H, LeRoy AS. Fear of missing out: relationships with depression, mindfulness, and physical symptoms. Transl Issues Psychol Sci. 2016;2:275-82.,4141. Scalzo AC, Martinez JA. Not all anxiety is the same: how different “types” of anxiety uniquely associate with college students’ drinking intentions. J Coll Stud Dev. 2017;58:943-7. One paper compared the FOMO scores of German and Spanish samples, finding that Germans scored significantly higher on trait-based FOMO, with a small effect (ηp 2 = 0.031).2323. Wegmann E, Oberst U, Stodt B, Brand M. Online-specific fear of missing out and Internet-use expectancies contribute to symptoms of Internet-communication disorder. Addict Behav Rep. 2017;5:33-42.

FOMO’s relationships with relevant variables

We now review recent empirical research on bivariate relationships between FOMO and relevant variables, including PIU, psychopathology and sociodemographic characteristics. Ours is not a comprehensive systematic review, since we focused on findings from the past couple of years. Specifically, when reviewing FOMO’s relations with relevant constructs, we only included studies published since 2018. Nevertheless, we also reviewed earlier studies when discussing FOMO’s relations with sociodemographic variables, since few papers have reported such findings. We organized the discussed references in an Endnote database.

Frequency and problematic use of internet technology

First, we will discuss research investigating FOMO in relation to greater frequency of, but not necessarily maladaptive, SNS use. The majority of these studies investigated only Facebook use or overall SNS use, employing self-report methodology with a correlational, cross-sectional survey design. Moderate to large relationships have been discovered in several such studies involving samples of children and youth, college students, and adults.3535. Reer F, Tang WY, Quandt T. Psychosocial well-being and social media engagement: the mediating roles of social comparison orientation and fear of missing out. New Media Soc 2019;21:1486-505.,3737. Tomczyk Ł, Selmanagic-Lizde E. Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) among youth in Bosnia and Herzegovina: scale and selected mechanisms. Child Youth Serv Rev. 2018;88:541-9.,4242. Chai HY, Niu GF, Lian SL, Chu XW, Liu S, Sun XJ. Why social network site use fails to promote well-being? The roles of social overload and fear of missing out. Comput Human Behav. 2019;100:85-92.

43. Dempsey A, E., O’Brien KD, Tiamiyu MF, Elhai JD. Fear of missing out (FoMO) and rumination mediate relations between social anxiety and problematic Facebook use. Addict Behav Rep. 2019;9:100150.

44. Franchina V, Abeele MV, van Rooij AJ, Lo Coco G, De Marez L. Fear of missing out as a predictor of problematic social media use and phubbing behavior among Flemish adolescents. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2018;15:2319.
-4545. Traş Z. Examining the relationships between Facebook intensity, fear of missing out, and smartphone addiction. Addicta. 2019;6:91-113. For example, Dempsey et al.4343. Dempsey A, E., O’Brien KD, Tiamiyu MF, Elhai JD. Fear of missing out (FoMO) and rumination mediate relations between social anxiety and problematic Facebook use. Addict Behav Rep. 2019;9:100150. analyzed data from 289 American college students using a cross-sectional web survey design with standardized, self-report scales. The authors reported a bivariate Pearson correlation of -0.19 between the Przybylski et al.11. Przybylski AK, Murayama K, DeHaan CR, Gladwell V. Motivational, emotional, and behavioral correlates of fear of missing out. Comput Human Behav. 2013;29:1841-8. 10-item FOMO Scale and a five-item Facebook use frequency scale (computed such that lower scores indicate greater Facebook frequency).

We should provide a caveat at this juncture about healthy vs. maladaptive internet technology (including SNS) use. A higher level of social networking is not necessarily maladaptive, but it can be if it becomes excessive or “problematic.” In fact, PIU is defined as when overuse results in adverse effects.4646. Kuss DJ, Griffiths MD, Karila L, Billieux J. Internet addiction: a systematic review of epidemiological research for the last decade. Curr Pharm Des. 2014;20:4026-52. Such adverse effects are typically categorized as those observed in addictive disorders involving drug and alcohol use, including withdrawal when denied access, tolerance (requiring increasing periods of use to feel the same level of emotional relief), and functional impairment such as work or social problems, hazardous use, etc.4747. Billieux J, Maurage P, Lopez-Fernandez O, Kuss DJ, Griffiths MD. Can disordered mobile phone use be considered a behavioral addiction? An update on current evidence and a comprehensive model for future research. Curr Addict Rep. 2015;2:156-62.,4848. Gutierrez J, de Fonseca FR, Rubio G. Cell-phone addiction: a review. Front Psychiatry. 2016;7:175. For recent discussion on this topic and a taxonomy of internet-related use disorders, including SNS use disorder or problematic SNS use, see work by Montag et al.4949. Montag C, Wegmann E, Sariyska R, Demetrovics Z, Brand M. How to overcome taxonomical problems in the study of Internet use disorders and what to do with “smartphone addiction”? J Behav Addict. 2019 Oct 31:1-7. doi: http://10.1556/2006.8.2019.59.. [Epub ahead of print]
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Nonetheless, problematic use of other forms of internet technology, such as smartphones and SNS, are important because of the adverse health and functional consequences that can result from overuse.5353. Grant JE, Lust K, Chamberlain SR. Problematic smartphone use associated with greater alcohol consumption, mental health issues, poorer academic performance, and impulsivity. J Behav Addict. 2019;8:335-42.

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FOMO has been empirically studied in relation to problematic SNS use in numerous studies. These studies have almost exclusively used self-report methodology with a correlational, cross-sectional survey design. Moderate to large positive associations between FOMO and levels of problematic SNS use have been found in several studies of school-aged adolescents, college students, and adults.2929. Balta S, Emirtekin E, Kircaburun K, Griffiths MD. Neuroticism, trait fear of missing out, and phubbing: The mediating role of state fear of missing out and problematic instagram use [Internet]. 2018 [cited 2010 Mar 19]. http://www.link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11469-018-9959-8
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-6969. Sette CP, Lima NRS, Queluz FNFR, Ferrari BL, Hauck N. The online fear of missing out inventory (ON-FoMO): development and validation of a new tool. J Technol Behav Sci. 2019 Jul 24. https://doi.org/10.1007/s41347-019-00110-0. [Epub ahead of print]
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Dempsey et al.4343. Dempsey A, E., O’Brien KD, Tiamiyu MF, Elhai JD. Fear of missing out (FoMO) and rumination mediate relations between social anxiety and problematic Facebook use. Addict Behav Rep. 2019;9:100150. discovered a bivariate Pearson correlation of 0.32 between the Przybylski et al.11. Przybylski AK, Murayama K, DeHaan CR, Gladwell V. Motivational, emotional, and behavioral correlates of fear of missing out. Comput Human Behav. 2013;29:1841-8. FOMO Scale and the six-item Bergen Facebook Addiction Scale.7070. Andreassen CS, Torsheim T, Brunborg GS, Pallesen S. Development of a Facebook Addiction Scale. Psychol Rep. 2012;110:501-17. Thus, FOMO has been linked not only to greater frequency of SNS use, but also to higher levels of problematic SNS use.

Many studies have also examined FOMO in relation to levels of problematic smartphone use. These investigations have exclusively used self-report methods and a correlational, cross-sectional research design. Numerous studies with samples from all age groups have found moderate to large positive associations between FOMO and problematic smartphone use.2727. Elhai JD, Levine JC, Alghraibeh AM, Alafnan AA, Aldraiweesh AA, Hall BJ. Fear of missing out: testing relationships with negative affectivity, online social engagement, and problematic smartphone use. Comput Human Behav. 2018;89:289-98.,2828. Servidio R. Self-control and problematic smartphone use among Italian University students: the mediating role of the fear of missing out and of smartphone use patterns. Curr Psychol. 2019; https://doi.org/10.1007/s12144-019-00373-z
https://doi.org/10.1007/s12144-019-00373...
,3636. Elhai JD, Yang H, Fang J, Bai X, Hall BJ. Depression and anxiety symptoms are related to problematic smartphone use severity in Chinese young adults: fear of missing out as a mediator. Addict Behav. 2020;101:105962.,4545. Traş Z. Examining the relationships between Facebook intensity, fear of missing out, and smartphone addiction. Addicta. 2019;6:91-113.,6565. Liu C, Ma J. Social support through online social networking sites and addiction among college students: the mediating roles of fear of missing out and problematic smartphone use. Curr Psychol. 2018 Nov. doi: https://doi.org/10.1007/s12144-018-0075-5.. [Epub ahead of print]
https://doi.org/10.1007/s12144-018-0075-...
,6666. Sha P, Sariyska R, Riedl R, Lachmann B, Montag C. Linking Internet communication and smartphone use disorder by taking a closer look at the Facebook and WhatsApp applications. Addict Behav Rep. 2019;9:100148.,6969. Sette CP, Lima NRS, Queluz FNFR, Ferrari BL, Hauck N. The online fear of missing out inventory (ON-FoMO): development and validation of a new tool. J Technol Behav Sci. 2019 Jul 24. https://doi.org/10.1007/s41347-019-00110-0. [Epub ahead of print]
https://doi.org/10.1007/s41347-019-00110...
,7171. Coskun S, Karayagiz Muslu G. Investigation of problematic mobile phones use and fear of missing out (FoMO) level in adolescents. Community Ment Health J. 2019;55:1004-14.

72. Elhai JD, Yang H, Rozgonjuk D, Montag C. Using machine learning to model problematic smartphone use severity: the significant role of fear of missing out. Addict Behav. 2020;103:106261.

73. Wang J, Wang P, Yang X, Zhang G, Wang X, Zhao F, et al. Fear of missing out and procrastination as mediators between sensation seeking and adolescent smartphone addiction. Int J Ment Health Addict. 2019;17:1049-62.

74. Wolniewicz CA, Rozgonjuk D, Elhai JD. Boredom proneness and fear of missing out mediate relations between depression and anxiety with problematic smartphone use. Hum Behav Emerg Technol. 2020;2:61-70.
-7575. Wolniewicz CA, Tiamiyu MF, Weeks JW, Elhai JD. Problematic smartphone use and relations with negative affect, fear of missing out, and fear of negative and positive evaluation. Psychiatry Res. 2018;262:618-23. For example, Elhai, Yang, Fang et al.3636. Elhai JD, Yang H, Fang J, Bai X, Hall BJ. Depression and anxiety symptoms are related to problematic smartphone use severity in Chinese young adults: fear of missing out as a mediator. Addict Behav. 2020;101:105962. analyzed data from 1,034 Chinese university students, using a cross-sectional, online self-report survey design with standardized psychological scales. They reported a bivariate Pearson correlation of 0.29 between the Chinese versions of the Przybylski et al.11. Przybylski AK, Murayama K, DeHaan CR, Gladwell V. Motivational, emotional, and behavioral correlates of fear of missing out. Comput Human Behav. 2013;29:1841-8. FOMO Scale and the 10-item Smartphone Addiction Scale.7676. Kwon M, Kim DJ, Cho H, Yang S. The smartphone addiction scale: development and validation of a short version for adolescents. PLoS One. 2013;8:e83558. Associations between FOMO and other adverse effects from smartphones have also been investigated. FOMO has been positively correlated with disrupted daily life activities due to smartphone notifications,1616. Rozgonjuk D, Elhai JD, Ryan T, Scott G. Fear of missing out is associated with disrupted activities from receiving smartphone notifications and surface learning in college students. Comput Educ. 2019;140:103590. as well as to distracted pedestrian behavior due to smartphone use.7777. Appel M, Krisch N, Stein JP, Weber S. Smartphone zombies! Pedestrians’ distracted walking as a function of their fear of missing out. J Environ Psychol. 2019;63:130-3.

Negative affectivity and demographics

FOMO has been conceptualized as a construct that primarily involves anxiety-related psychopathology,11. Przybylski AK, Murayama K, DeHaan CR, Gladwell V. Motivational, emotional, and behavioral correlates of fear of missing out. Comput Human Behav. 2013;29:1841-8. and anxiety disorders are conceptualized as an important aspect of underlying negative affectivity.7878. Watson D. Differentiating the mood and anxiety disorders: a quadripartite model. Annu Rev Clin Psychol. 2009;5:221-47. As such, FOMO has been examined in relation to anxiety symptom severity, including social anxiety, in studies with adolescent and adult samples that used correlational, cross-sectional designs. Across studies, FOMO has revealed moderate to large positive relationships with anxiety severity.2727. Elhai JD, Levine JC, Alghraibeh AM, Alafnan AA, Aldraiweesh AA, Hall BJ. Fear of missing out: testing relationships with negative affectivity, online social engagement, and problematic smartphone use. Comput Human Behav. 2018;89:289-98.,2929. Balta S, Emirtekin E, Kircaburun K, Griffiths MD. Neuroticism, trait fear of missing out, and phubbing: The mediating role of state fear of missing out and problematic instagram use [Internet]. 2018 [cited 2010 Mar 19]. http://www.link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11469-018-9959-8
http://www.link.springer.com/article/10....
,3030. Casale S, Fioravanti G. Factor structure and psychometric properties of the Italian version of the fear of missing out scale in emerging adults and adolescents. Addict Behav. 2020;102: 106179.,3232. Błachnio A, Przepio?rka A. Facebook intrusion, fear of missing out, narcissism, and life satisfaction: a cross-sectional study. Psychiatry Res. 2018;259:514-9.,3535. Reer F, Tang WY, Quandt T. Psychosocial well-being and social media engagement: the mediating roles of social comparison orientation and fear of missing out. New Media Soc 2019;21:1486-505.,3636. Elhai JD, Yang H, Fang J, Bai X, Hall BJ. Depression and anxiety symptoms are related to problematic smartphone use severity in Chinese young adults: fear of missing out as a mediator. Addict Behav. 2020;101:105962.,3838. Dhir A, Yossatorn Y, Kaur P, Chen S. Online social media fatigue and psychological wellbeing: a study of compulsive use, fear of missing out, fatigue, anxiety and depression. Int J Inf Manage. 2018;40:141-52.,4343. Dempsey A, E., O’Brien KD, Tiamiyu MF, Elhai JD. Fear of missing out (FoMO) and rumination mediate relations between social anxiety and problematic Facebook use. Addict Behav Rep. 2019;9:100150.,6868. Casale S, Rugai L, Fioravanti G. Exploring the role of positive metacognitions in explaining the association between the fear of missing out and social media addiction. Addict Behav. 2018;85:83-7.,7272. Elhai JD, Yang H, Rozgonjuk D, Montag C. Using machine learning to model problematic smartphone use severity: the significant role of fear of missing out. Addict Behav. 2020;103:106261.,7575. Wolniewicz CA, Tiamiyu MF, Weeks JW, Elhai JD. Problematic smartphone use and relations with negative affect, fear of missing out, and fear of negative and positive evaluation. Psychiatry Res. 2018;262:618-23.,7979. Elhai JD, Rozgonjuk D, Liu T, Yang H. Fear of missing out is related to repeated measurements of negative affect using experience sampling methodology. J Affect Disord. 2020;262:298-303. For instance, in the previously mentioned study by Elhai, Yang, Fang et al.,3636. Elhai JD, Yang H, Fang J, Bai X, Hall BJ. Depression and anxiety symptoms are related to problematic smartphone use severity in Chinese young adults: fear of missing out as a mediator. Addict Behav. 2020;101:105962. a bivariate Pearson correlation of 0.33 was reported between the Przybylski et al.11. Przybylski AK, Murayama K, DeHaan CR, Gladwell V. Motivational, emotional, and behavioral correlates of fear of missing out. Comput Human Behav. 2013;29:1841-8. FOMO Scale and the seven-item anxiety subscale of the Depression Anxiety Stress Scale-21.8080. Lovibond PF, Lovibond SH. The structure of negative emotional states: comparison of the Depression Anxiety Stress Scales (DASS) with the Beck Depression and Anxiety Inventories. Behav Res Ther. 1995;33:335-43.

Anxiety highly correlates (and is comorbid) with depression,8181. Lamers F, van Oppen P, Comijs HC, Smit JH, Spinhoven P, van Bolkom AJ, et al. Comorbidity patterns of anxiety and depressive disorders in a large cohort study: the Netherlands Study of Depression and Anxiety (NESDA). J Clin Psychiatry. 2011;72:341-8.,8282. Cummings CM, Caporino NE, Kendall PC. Comorbidity of anxiety and depression in children and adolescents: 20 years after. Psychol Bull. 2014;140:816-45. which is also a fundamental aspect of underlying negative affectivity.7878. Watson D. Differentiating the mood and anxiety disorders: a quadripartite model. Annu Rev Clin Psychol. 2009;5:221-47. FOMO has also been examined in relation to depression severity from adolescence through adulthood using correlational, cross-sectional methodology. Specifically, mild to moderate positive associations have been found between FOMO and depression symptom severity.2727. Elhai JD, Levine JC, Alghraibeh AM, Alafnan AA, Aldraiweesh AA, Hall BJ. Fear of missing out: testing relationships with negative affectivity, online social engagement, and problematic smartphone use. Comput Human Behav. 2018;89:289-98.,3535. Reer F, Tang WY, Quandt T. Psychosocial well-being and social media engagement: the mediating roles of social comparison orientation and fear of missing out. New Media Soc 2019;21:1486-505.,3636. Elhai JD, Yang H, Fang J, Bai X, Hall BJ. Depression and anxiety symptoms are related to problematic smartphone use severity in Chinese young adults: fear of missing out as a mediator. Addict Behav. 2020;101:105962.,3838. Dhir A, Yossatorn Y, Kaur P, Chen S. Online social media fatigue and psychological wellbeing: a study of compulsive use, fear of missing out, fatigue, anxiety and depression. Int J Inf Manage. 2018;40:141-52.,4343. Dempsey A, E., O’Brien KD, Tiamiyu MF, Elhai JD. Fear of missing out (FoMO) and rumination mediate relations between social anxiety and problematic Facebook use. Addict Behav Rep. 2019;9:100150.,7272. Elhai JD, Yang H, Rozgonjuk D, Montag C. Using machine learning to model problematic smartphone use severity: the significant role of fear of missing out. Addict Behav. 2020;103:106261.,7474. Wolniewicz CA, Rozgonjuk D, Elhai JD. Boredom proneness and fear of missing out mediate relations between depression and anxiety with problematic smartphone use. Hum Behav Emerg Technol. 2020;2:61-70.,7979. Elhai JD, Rozgonjuk D, Liu T, Yang H. Fear of missing out is related to repeated measurements of negative affect using experience sampling methodology. J Affect Disord. 2020;262:298-303.,8383. Sela Y, Zach M, Amichay-Hamburger Y, Mishali M, Omer H. Family environment and problematic internet use among adolescents: the mediating roles of depression and fear of missing out. Comput Human Behav. 2020;106:106226. Elhai, Yang, Fang et al.3636. Elhai JD, Yang H, Fang J, Bai X, Hall BJ. Depression and anxiety symptoms are related to problematic smartphone use severity in Chinese young adults: fear of missing out as a mediator. Addict Behav. 2020;101:105962. reported a bivariate Pearson correlation of 0.29 between the Przybylski et al.11. Przybylski AK, Murayama K, DeHaan CR, Gladwell V. Motivational, emotional, and behavioral correlates of fear of missing out. Comput Human Behav. 2013;29:1841-8. FOMO Scale and seven-item depression subscale of the Depression Anxiety Stress Scale-21.8080. Lovibond PF, Lovibond SH. The structure of negative emotional states: comparison of the Depression Anxiety Stress Scales (DASS) with the Beck Depression and Anxiety Inventories. Behav Res Ther. 1995;33:335-43.

Other indices of negative affectivity have been supported in connection with FOMO through correlational, cross-sectional methodology. Moderate to large positive associations have been found for FOMO with rumination,2727. Elhai JD, Levine JC, Alghraibeh AM, Alafnan AA, Aldraiweesh AA, Hall BJ. Fear of missing out: testing relationships with negative affectivity, online social engagement, and problematic smartphone use. Comput Human Behav. 2018;89:289-98.,4343. Dempsey A, E., O’Brien KD, Tiamiyu MF, Elhai JD. Fear of missing out (FoMO) and rumination mediate relations between social anxiety and problematic Facebook use. Addict Behav Rep. 2019;9:100150. as well as for FOMO with negative affect and mood.7272. Elhai JD, Yang H, Rozgonjuk D, Montag C. Using machine learning to model problematic smartphone use severity: the significant role of fear of missing out. Addict Behav. 2020;103:106261.,7575. Wolniewicz CA, Tiamiyu MF, Weeks JW, Elhai JD. Problematic smartphone use and relations with negative affect, fear of missing out, and fear of negative and positive evaluation. Psychiatry Res. 2018;262:618-23.,7979. Elhai JD, Rozgonjuk D, Liu T, Yang H. Fear of missing out is related to repeated measurements of negative affect using experience sampling methodology. J Affect Disord. 2020;262:298-303. Additionally, a moderate positive correlation has been found between FOMO and proneness to experience boredom2727. Elhai JD, Levine JC, Alghraibeh AM, Alafnan AA, Aldraiweesh AA, Hall BJ. Fear of missing out: testing relationships with negative affectivity, online social engagement, and problematic smartphone use. Comput Human Behav. 2018;89:289-98.,7474. Wolniewicz CA, Rozgonjuk D, Elhai JD. Boredom proneness and fear of missing out mediate relations between depression and anxiety with problematic smartphone use. Hum Behav Emerg Technol. 2020;2:61-70.; in fact, boredom proneness is conceptualized as a negative affectivity construct that additionally involves impaired attention.8484. Eastwood JD, Frischen A, Fenske MJ, Smilek D. The unengaged mind: defining boredom in terms of attention. Perspect Psychol Sci. 2012;7:482-95.

FOMO has also been investigated for relations with variables involving the opposite of negative affectivity – namely, perceived quality of life. These studies have used cross-sectional methods similar to those of most of the previously mentioned studies. Specifically, FOMO has shown mild to moderate inverse correlations with life satisfaction.2626. Can G, Satici SA. Adaptation of fear of missing out scale (FoMOs): Turkish version validity and reliability study. Psicol Reflex Crit. 2019;32:3.,6666. Sha P, Sariyska R, Riedl R, Lachmann B, Montag C. Linking Internet communication and smartphone use disorder by taking a closer look at the Facebook and WhatsApp applications. Addict Behav Rep. 2019;9:100148.,6969. Sette CP, Lima NRS, Queluz FNFR, Ferrari BL, Hauck N. The online fear of missing out inventory (ON-FoMO): development and validation of a new tool. J Technol Behav Sci. 2019 Jul 24. https://doi.org/10.1007/s41347-019-00110-0. [Epub ahead of print]
https://doi.org/10.1007/s41347-019-00110...
Furthermore, mild to moderate inverse associations have been found between FOMO and emotional well-being.4242. Chai HY, Niu GF, Lian SL, Chu XW, Liu S, Sun XJ. Why social network site use fails to promote well-being? The roles of social overload and fear of missing out. Comput Human Behav. 2019;100:85-92.,8585. Roberts JA, David ME. The Social media party: fear of missing out (FoMO), social media intensity, connection, and well-being. Int J Hum Comput Interact. 2020;36:386-92.

Finally, FOMO has been associated with particular demographic characteristics in a small number of studies with correlational, cross-sectional designs. FOMO has been correlated with younger age in some studies,2727. Elhai JD, Levine JC, Alghraibeh AM, Alafnan AA, Aldraiweesh AA, Hall BJ. Fear of missing out: testing relationships with negative affectivity, online social engagement, and problematic smartphone use. Comput Human Behav. 2018;89:289-98.,3232. Błachnio A, Przepio?rka A. Facebook intrusion, fear of missing out, narcissism, and life satisfaction: a cross-sectional study. Psychiatry Res. 2018;259:514-9.,8686. Blackwell D, Leaman C, Tramposch R, Osborne C, Liss M. Extraversion, neuroticism, attachment style and fear of missing out as predictors of social media use and addiction. Pers Individ Dif. 2017;116:69-72. and others have found it to be more related to females than males.2727. Elhai JD, Levine JC, Alghraibeh AM, Alafnan AA, Aldraiweesh AA, Hall BJ. Fear of missing out: testing relationships with negative affectivity, online social engagement, and problematic smartphone use. Comput Human Behav. 2018;89:289-98.,3131. Beyens I, Frison E, Eggermont S. “I don’t want to miss a thing”: Adolescents’ fear of missing out and its relationship to adolescents’ social needs, Facebook use, and Facebook related stress. Comput Human Behav. 2016;64:1-8.,8787. Stead H, Bibby PA. Personality, fear of missing out and problematic internet use and their relationship to subjective well-being. Comput Human Behav. 2017;76:534-40. One study of North Americans found that FOMO was more related to Caucasians than racial minorities.2727. Elhai JD, Levine JC, Alghraibeh AM, Alafnan AA, Aldraiweesh AA, Hall BJ. Fear of missing out: testing relationships with negative affectivity, online social engagement, and problematic smartphone use. Comput Human Behav. 2018;89:289-98.

Theoretical underpinnings of FOMO

FOMO was first conceptualized using self-determination theory (SDT), which was developed by Ryan & Deci8888. Ryan R, Deci EL. Self-determination theory and the facilitation of intrinsic motivation, social development, and well-being. Am Psychol. 2000;55:68-78. and applied by Przybylski et al. to understanding what drives FOMO.11. Przybylski AK, Murayama K, DeHaan CR, Gladwell V. Motivational, emotional, and behavioral correlates of fear of missing out. Comput Human Behav. 2013;29:1841-8. SDT attempts to explain how personality is formed and the psychological needs that drive personality formation. SDT proposes that intrinsic (rather than extrinsic) motivation for reward is essential in promoting mental health, and that intrinsic motivation is best promoted when one feels socially connected to others. Therefore, in SDT, social relatedness can drive intrinsic motivation, which in turn can encourage positive mental health.8989. Koole SL, Schlinkert C, Maldei T, Baumann N. Becoming who you are: an integrative review of self-determination theory and personality systems interactions theory. J Pers. 2019;87:15-36. Przybylski et al. applied SDT to FOMO, proposing that FOMO is a negative emotional state resulting from unmet social relatedness needs.11. Przybylski AK, Murayama K, DeHaan CR, Gladwell V. Motivational, emotional, and behavioral correlates of fear of missing out. Comput Human Behav. 2013;29:1841-8. The conceptualization that FOMO involves negative affect from unmet social needs is similar to theories about the negative emotional effects of social ostracism.9090. Williams KD. Ostracism. Annu Rev Psychol. 2007;58:425-52.

In this context, research involving personality psychology should also be mentioned. FOMO has been linked to the personality trait of neuroticism,2929. Balta S, Emirtekin E, Kircaburun K, Griffiths MD. Neuroticism, trait fear of missing out, and phubbing: The mediating role of state fear of missing out and problematic instagram use [Internet]. 2018 [cited 2010 Mar 19]. http://www.link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11469-018-9959-8
http://www.link.springer.com/article/10....
,8686. Blackwell D, Leaman C, Tramposch R, Osborne C, Liss M. Extraversion, neuroticism, attachment style and fear of missing out as predictors of social media use and addiction. Pers Individ Dif. 2017;116:69-72. one of the most well-known risk factors for developing a mood disorder.9191. Lahey BB. Public health significance of neuroticism. Am Psychol. 2009;64:241-56. Furthermore, narcissism likely plays a role in FOMO. Vulnerable narcissists in particular have unmet social relatedness needs (similar to those with severe FOMO) and more often engage in problematic SNS use.9292. Casale S, Fioravanti G, Rugai L. Grandiose and vulnerable narcissists: who is at higher risk for social networking addiction? Cyberpsychol Behav Soc Netw. 2016;19:510-5. Therefore, FOMO may have a mediational role between narcissism and problematic SNS use.

Subsequent investigations have assessed whether FOMO influences negative affectivity, such as depression and anxiety, or whether negative affectivity influences FOMO. For instance, several papers have conceptualized FOMO as a driving factor for negative affectivity.3131. Beyens I, Frison E, Eggermont S. “I don’t want to miss a thing”: Adolescents’ fear of missing out and its relationship to adolescents’ social needs, Facebook use, and Facebook related stress. Comput Human Behav. 2016;64:1-8.,7979. Elhai JD, Rozgonjuk D, Liu T, Yang H. Fear of missing out is related to repeated measurements of negative affect using experience sampling methodology. J Affect Disord. 2020;262:298-303.,9393. Milyavskaya M, Saffran M, Hope N, Koestner R. Fear of missing out: prevalence, dynamics, and consequences of experiencing FOMO. Motiv Emot. 2018;42:725-37. However, other papers have conceptualized negative affectivity as an antecedent of FOMO.2323. Wegmann E, Oberst U, Stodt B, Brand M. Online-specific fear of missing out and Internet-use expectancies contribute to symptoms of Internet-communication disorder. Addict Behav Rep. 2017;5:33-42.,3939. Oberst U, Wegmann E, Stodt B, Brand M, Chamarro A. Negative consequences from heavy social networking in adolescents: the mediating role of fear of missing out. J Adolesc. 2017;55:51-60.,9494. Elhai JD, Yang H, Montag C. Cognitive- and emotion-related dysfunctional coping processes: transdiagnostic mechanisms explaining depression and anxiety’s relations with problematic smartphone use. Curr Addict Rep. 2019;6:410-7. It is not yet clear whether FOMO causes negative affectivity, whether negative affectivity causes FOMO, or whether there is a bidirectional effect. Repeated measures, longitudinal designs, and experiments may eventually provide answers to this question. Studies with repeated measures designs have found some initial support that FOMO drives negative affect over short (1-week) periods of time.7979. Elhai JD, Rozgonjuk D, Liu T, Yang H. Fear of missing out is related to repeated measurements of negative affect using experience sampling methodology. J Affect Disord. 2020;262:298-303.,9393. Milyavskaya M, Saffran M, Hope N, Koestner R. Fear of missing out: prevalence, dynamics, and consequences of experiencing FOMO. Motiv Emot. 2018;42:725-37.

FOMO is also widely considered a driving mechanism for PIU, as discussed above. As such, FOMO has been theorized for its role in PIU. The Interaction of Person-Affect-Cognition-Execution (I-PACE) model of PIU conceptualizes risk factors for PIU, both in early9595. Brand M, Young KS, Laier C, Wolfling K, Potenza MN. Integrating psychological and neurobiological considerations regarding the development and maintenance of specific Internet-use disorders: an interaction of person-affect-cognition-execution (I-PACE) model. Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2016;71:252-66. and later stages of excessive technology use.9696. Brand M, Wegmann E, Stark R, Muller A, Wolfling K, Robbins TW, et al. The Interaction of Person-Affect-Cognition-Execution (I-PACE) model for addictive behaviors: update, generalization to addictive behaviors beyond internet-use disorders, and specification of the process character of addictive behaviors. Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2019;104:1-10. I-PACE proposes that background personal variables, such as psychopathology, personality, and biology (including genetics), can influence problematic use. I-PACE additionally suggests that responses to background variables also play a role in PIU as mediating mechanisms between background variables and problematic use. Such response variables include coping strategies, cognitive bias, ability to inhibit impulsive behavior, craving and expectations about internet use.9696. Brand M, Wegmann E, Stark R, Muller A, Wolfling K, Robbins TW, et al. The Interaction of Person-Affect-Cognition-Execution (I-PACE) model for addictive behaviors: update, generalization to addictive behaviors beyond internet-use disorders, and specification of the process character of addictive behaviors. Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2019;104:1-10.

FOMO has been conceptualized as an internet-related maladaptive cognitive bias within the I-PACE model’s response variables.2323. Wegmann E, Oberst U, Stodt B, Brand M. Online-specific fear of missing out and Internet-use expectancies contribute to symptoms of Internet-communication disorder. Addict Behav Rep. 2017;5:33-42.,9494. Elhai JD, Yang H, Montag C. Cognitive- and emotion-related dysfunctional coping processes: transdiagnostic mechanisms explaining depression and anxiety’s relations with problematic smartphone use. Curr Addict Rep. 2019;6:410-7. Elhai et al. suggested that because depression and anxiety involve social isolation, FOMO can be a natural consequence, in turn driving PIU.9494. Elhai JD, Yang H, Montag C. Cognitive- and emotion-related dysfunctional coping processes: transdiagnostic mechanisms explaining depression and anxiety’s relations with problematic smartphone use. Curr Addict Rep. 2019;6:410-7. In fact, consistent with I-PACE, several papers have found FOMO to mediate relations between psychopathological symptoms (i.e., depression and anxiety) and PIU levels.2727. Elhai JD, Levine JC, Alghraibeh AM, Alafnan AA, Aldraiweesh AA, Hall BJ. Fear of missing out: testing relationships with negative affectivity, online social engagement, and problematic smartphone use. Comput Human Behav. 2018;89:289-98.,2828. Servidio R. Self-control and problematic smartphone use among Italian University students: the mediating role of the fear of missing out and of smartphone use patterns. Curr Psychol. 2019; https://doi.org/10.1007/s12144-019-00373-z
https://doi.org/10.1007/s12144-019-00373...
,3636. Elhai JD, Yang H, Fang J, Bai X, Hall BJ. Depression and anxiety symptoms are related to problematic smartphone use severity in Chinese young adults: fear of missing out as a mediator. Addict Behav. 2020;101:105962.,3939. Oberst U, Wegmann E, Stodt B, Brand M, Chamarro A. Negative consequences from heavy social networking in adolescents: the mediating role of fear of missing out. J Adolesc. 2017;55:51-60.,4343. Dempsey A, E., O’Brien KD, Tiamiyu MF, Elhai JD. Fear of missing out (FoMO) and rumination mediate relations between social anxiety and problematic Facebook use. Addict Behav Rep. 2019;9:100150.,7373. Wang J, Wang P, Yang X, Zhang G, Wang X, Zhao F, et al. Fear of missing out and procrastination as mediators between sensation seeking and adolescent smartphone addiction. Int J Ment Health Addict. 2019;17:1049-62.,7474. Wolniewicz CA, Rozgonjuk D, Elhai JD. Boredom proneness and fear of missing out mediate relations between depression and anxiety with problematic smartphone use. Hum Behav Emerg Technol. 2020;2:61-70. Thus, FOMO may be a mechanism that explains how some depressed/anxious people develop PIU.

Conclusions and future directions

FOMO is an important psychological construct in the digital age. FOMO has been examined and validated globally with several self-report psychological scales, as well as with physiological monitoring. Support has been established for FOMO in relation to greater frequency of SNS use, higher levels of problematic SNS and smartphone use, more severe anxiety, depression and negative affectivity, and lower levels of perceived quality of life. Preliminary evidence indicates that FOMO is more related to younger age and female sex.

Future research could explore unanswered questions regarding the FOMO construct. Nearly all work assessing the relations between FOMO and high or problematic levels of technology use has involved self-reported behavior as the dependent variable. However, self-reported rates of internet use differ from objective measures of use (e.g. device logs).9797. Elhai JD, Tiamiyu MF, Weeks JW, Levine JC, Picard KJ, Hall BJ. Depression and emotion regulation predict objective smartphone use measured over one week. Pers Individ Dif. 2018;133:21-8.

98. Montag C, Blaszkiewicz K, Lachmann B, Sariyska R, Andone I, Trendafilov B, et al. Recorded behavior as a valuable resource for diagnostics in mobile phone addiction: evidence from psychoinformatics. Behav Sci (Basel). 2015;5:434-42.
-9999. Rozgonjuk D, Levine JC, Hall BJ, Elhai JD. The association between problematic smartphone use, depression and anxiety symptom severity, and objectively measured smartphone use over one week. Comput Human Behav. 2018;87:10-7. In particular, digital phenotyping could help the psychological sciences overcome some of the problems arising from self-report methods, such as problems self-assessing a construct such as FOMO and the tendency to answer questions in socially desirable ways.100100. Montag C, Elhai JD. A new agenda for personality psychology in the digital age? Pers Individ Dif. 2019;147:128-34. We are aware of only one FOMO study that has objectively measured internet technology use (smartphone), finding that FOMO was related to higher level of use.8383. Sela Y, Zach M, Amichay-Hamburger Y, Mishali M, Omer H. Family environment and problematic internet use among adolescents: the mediating roles of depression and fear of missing out. Comput Human Behav. 2020;106:106226. More work in this area is needed. Furthermore, the vast majority of research on FOMO has used cross-sectional research methodology. We encourage researchers to use repeated measures, longitudinal, daily diary and/or experience sampling designs to further assess FOMO. Such designs can attempt to answer whether FOMO drives negative affectivity or vice-versa, which has been done thus far in only two papers,7979. Elhai JD, Rozgonjuk D, Liu T, Yang H. Fear of missing out is related to repeated measurements of negative affect using experience sampling methodology. J Affect Disord. 2020;262:298-303.,9393. Milyavskaya M, Saffran M, Hope N, Koestner R. Fear of missing out: prevalence, dynamics, and consequences of experiencing FOMO. Motiv Emot. 2018;42:725-37. and whether FOMO drives problematic smartphone/SNS use or vice-versa, which is as yet unexplored.

Additionally, the research on FOMO has been exclusively variable-centered. No studies have used person-centered analyses to examine possible heterogeneity in the experiences/symptoms of FOMO across individuals with mixture modeling such as cluster, latent class, or latent profile analysis. Furthermore, FOMO and other negative affectivity variables are all correlated with PIU and with each other. Therefore, statistical methods, such as machine learning algorithms that can address collinearity and relative variable importance and can shrink regression coefficients among collinear predictors to realistic levels, are advisable for further FOMO investigation.7272. Elhai JD, Yang H, Rozgonjuk D, Montag C. Using machine learning to model problematic smartphone use severity: the significant role of fear of missing out. Addict Behav. 2020;103:106261.

When writing the present paper, we were also surprised that FOMO has not yet been investigated with neuroscientific tools to better understand which neural processes underlie the relevant construct. This is a glaring omission, since studies have increasingly used such tools to investigate the effects of excessive social network use/smartphone use101101. Chen J, Liang Y, Mai C, Zhong X, Qu C. General deficit in inhibitory control of excessive smartphone users: evidence from an event-related potential study. Front Psychol. 2016;7:511.

102. Montag C, Markowetz A, Blaszkiewicz K, Andone I, Lachmann B, Sariyska R, et al. Facebook usage on smartphones and gray matter volume of the nucleus accumbens. Behav Brain Res. 2017;329:221-8.
-103103. Montag C, Zhao Z, Sindermann C, Xu L, Fu M, Li J, et al. Internet communication disorder and the structure of the human brain: initial insights on WeChat addiction. Sci Rep. 2018;8:2155. or the power of likes on platforms such as Instagram.104104. Montag C, Becker B. Psychological and neuroscientific advances to understand Internet use disorder. Neuroforum. 2019;25:99-107.

105. Sherman LE, Hernandez LM, Greenfield PM, Dapretto M. What the brain 'Likes': neural correlates of providing feedback on social media. Soc Cogn Affect Neurosci. 2018;13:699-707.
-106106. Sherman LE, Payton AA, Hernandez LM, Greenfield PM, Dapretto M. The power of the Like in adolescence: effects of peer influence on neural and behavioral responses to social media. Psychol Sci. 2016;27:1027-35. This less-traveled path will be of tremendous importance for gaining deeper insights into the actual nature of FOMO. It will also be important to disentangle more state/trait effects of FOMO, given that Balta et al.2929. Balta S, Emirtekin E, Kircaburun K, Griffiths MD. Neuroticism, trait fear of missing out, and phubbing: The mediating role of state fear of missing out and problematic instagram use [Internet]. 2018 [cited 2010 Mar 19]. http://www.link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11469-018-9959-8
http://www.link.springer.com/article/10....
found that associations with neuroticism are stronger for trait FOMO (r = 0.29) than state FOMO (r = 0.15). See also Wegmann et al.2323. Wegmann E, Oberst U, Stodt B, Brand M. Online-specific fear of missing out and Internet-use expectancies contribute to symptoms of Internet-communication disorder. Addict Behav Rep. 2017;5:33-42. on the distinction between state vs. trait FOMO.

Finally, other psychological constructs that have preliminary associations with FOMO should be further examined in subsequent studies, including behavioral activation, which is important for treating major depressive disorder,107107. Dimidjian S, Barrera M Jr, Martell C, Munoz RF, Lewinsohn PM. The origins and current status of behavioral activation treatments for depression. Annu Rev Clin Psychol. 2011;7:1-38. as well as the need for physical touch.108108. Elhai JD, Levine JC, Dvorak RD, Hall BJ. Fear of missing out, need for touch, anxiety and depression are related to problematic smartphone use. Comput Human Behav. 2016;63:509-16. Another important area to study is app design that reduces FOMO by batching interruptive smartphone notifications.109109. Fitz N, Kushlev K, Jagannathan R, Lewis T, Paliwal D, Ariely D. Batching smartphone notifications can improve well-being. Comput Human Behav. 2019;101:84-94. We hope that advances in methodological design will further our understanding of FOMO and its relationship with relevant psychological variables.

Acknowledgements

JDE is a paid, full-time faculty member at University of Toledo and a paid, visiting scientist at Tianjin Normal University; he receives grant research funding from the U.S. National Institutes of Health and the Department of Defense. CM has received (from Ulm University and the University of Bonn) grants from the German Research Foundation (DFG) and the German Federal Ministry for Research and Education.

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Publication Dates

  • Publication in this collection
    11 May 2020

History

  • Received
    23 Jan 2020
  • Accepted
    7 Mar 2020
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