Social Media and the Fear of Missing Out: Scale Development and Assessment

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Jessica P. Abel
Cheryl L. Buff
Sarah A. Burr


Self-Esteem, Social Media, Anxiety, Irritability, Feelings Of Inadequacy, Fear Of Missing Out


For many, viewing social media causes them to relate their own lives to what they are seeing or reading, resulting in feelings that they are somehow missing out.  It is suggested that the fear of missing out influences decision making and behavior. The current research explores the measurement of FOMO, focusing on scale development and validation. Using extant scales for inadequacy, irritability, anxiety, and self- esteem, a list of items (n=37), postulated to measure FOMO, was created. In addition to the scale items, questions to assess behavioral and demographic characteristic were included.  A pre-test of the survey instrument was conducted (n=30).  The final survey was administered electronically, resulting in a useable sample of n=202. Principal components analysis resulted in a 10 item, 3-factor solution explaining 71% of the overall variance. The three factors performed reasonably well all with Cronbach’s alpha above or near Nunnally’s suggested .70 (Nunnally, 1978). Using the newly created scale, FOMO scores were calculated for each respondent. Results suggest significant differences in social media consumption across levels of FOMO.  Results also suggest significant differences in the use of particular social media based on ones level of FOMO.  Limitations include the sample and it is suggested that future research, including confirmatory factor analysis, should be conducted.


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