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WeChat—Its Problematic Use and Relations with the Big Five Personality Traits and Fear of Missing Out


Despite the popularity of the WeChat social media platform in China, investigations on its overuse potential as well as personal characteristics being associated with problematic WeChat use are scarce. Against this background, correlations of personality and Fear of Missing Out (FoMO) on rewarding experiences with problematic WeChat use were examined. Moreover, it was tested whether FoMO would mediate the link between personality and problematic WeChat use. A cross-sectional online survey was conducted and revealed a final sample size of N = 377 Chinese university students and staff. All participants filled in measures to assess problematic WeChat use, the Big Five personality traits, and FoMO. Results show that problematic WeChat use was positively related to Neuroticism, a link which was fully (cross-sectionally) mediated by FoMO. In conclusion, the present results shed light on the overuse potential of WeChat and individual susceptibility factors.

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This research is supported by Tianjin Philosophy and Social Science Project(TJJX15–002).

For reasons of transparency, CM mentions that he has received (to Ulm University and earlier University of Bonn) grants from agencies such as the German Research Foundation (DFG). CM has performed grant reviews for several agencies; has edited journal sections and articles; has given academic lectures in clinical or scientific venues or companies; and has generated books or book chapters for publishers of mental health texts. For some of these activities, he received royalties, but never from the gaming or social media industry. CM mentions that he is part of a discussion circle (Digitalität und Verantwortung: gespraechskreis-digitalitaet-und-verantwortung/) debating ethical questions linked to social media, digitalization, and society/democracy at Facebook. In this context, he receives no salary for his activities. Finally, he mentions that he currently functions as independent scientist on the scientific advisory board of the Nymphenburg group. This activity is financially compensated.

Dr. Elhai notes that he receives royalties for several books published on posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD); is a paid, full-time faculty member at University of Toledo; is a paid, visiting scientist at Tianjin Normal University; occasionally serves as a paid, expert witness on PTSD legal cases; and receives grant research funding from the U.S. National Institutes of Health.

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Authors and Affiliations



Cornelia Sindermann: Conceptualization, data curation, formal analysis, methodology, project administration, validation, visualization, writing—original draft

Haibo Yang: Conceptualization, investigation, project administration, writing—review and editing

Tour Liu: Data curation, formal analysis, investigation, project administration, writing—review and editing.

Jon D. Elhai: Conceptualization, writing—review and editing

Christian Montag: Conceptualization, project administration, writing—review and editing

All authors have read and agreed upon the final version of the manuscript and its submission.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Haibo Yang.

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Competing Interests

On behalf of all authors, the corresponding author states that there is no conflict of interest.

Adherence with Ethical Standards

Before participation, individuals had to give informed electronic consent. The study was approved by the local ethics committee of Tianjin Normal University in Tianjin, China.

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Sindermann, C., Yang, H., Liu, T. et al. WeChat—Its Problematic Use and Relations with the Big Five Personality Traits and Fear of Missing Out. J. technol. behav. sci. 6, 397–405 (2021).

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  • WeChat
  • Problematic WeChat use
  • WeChat use disorder
  • Social networks use disorder
  • Personality
  • Big Five