Online-specific fear of missing out and Internet-use expectancies contribute to symptoms of Internet-communication disorder (2018)

Addict Behav Rep. 2017 Apr 14;5:33-42. doi: 10.1016/j.abrep.2017.04.001.

Wegmann E1, Oberst U2, Stodt B1, Brand M1,3.


Some of the most frequently used online applications are Facebook, WhatsApp, and Twitter. These applications allow individuals to communicate with other users, to share information or pictures, and to stay in contact with friends all over the world. However, a growing number of users suffer from negative consequences due to their excessive use of these applications, which can be referred to as Internet-communication disorder. The frequent use and easy access of these applications may also trigger the individual’s fear of missing out on content when not accessing these applications. Using a sample of 270 participants, a structural equation model was analyzed to investigate the role of psychopathological symptoms and the fear of missing out on expectancies towards Internet-communication applications in the development of symptoms of an Internet-communication disorder. The results suggest that psychopathological symptoms predict higher fear of missing out on the individual’s Internet-communication applications and higher expectancies to use these applications as a helpful tool to escape from negative feelings. These specific cognitions mediate the effect of psychopathological symptoms on Internet-communication disorder. Our results are in line with the theoretical model by Brand et al. (2016) as they show how Internet-related cognitive bias mediates the relationship between a person’s core characteristics (e.g., psychopathological symptoms) and Internet-communication disorder. However, further studies should investigate the role of the fear of missing out as a specific predisposition, as well as specific cognition in the online context.

KEYWORDS: Fear of missing out; FoMO; Internet addiction; Internet-communication disorder; Internet-use expectancies; Online communication; Social networking sites

PMID: 29450225

PMCID: PMC5800583

DOI: 10.1016/j.abrep.2017.04.001

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