Social Media Usage, FOMO, and Conspicuous Consumption: An Exploratory Study: An Abstract

  • David G. TaylorEmail author
Conference paper
Part of the Developments in Marketing Science: Proceedings of the Academy of Marketing Science book series (DMSPAMS)


Emerging research into the concept of FOMO (fear of missing out) suggests that higher levels of social media usage increase users’ feelings of anxiety about missing out on opportunities for socialization or novel experiences. Empirical support for this notion is scarce, so further reinforcement is provided. Furthermore, previous studies indicate a strong influence of negative emotions such as envy in motivating social media users to engage in the conspicuous consumption of positional goods and services. Thus, it is proposed that FOMO will motivate social media users to engage in conspicuous consumption of goods and experiences (i.e., posting photos on social media of themselves with prestigious brands and products, as well as engaging in status-enhancing activities such as luxury vacations or exclusive experiences).

A conceptual model is proposed and tested via a pilot survey. Based upon the literature pertaining to social media usage, FOMO, and conspicuous consumption, four hypotheses were developed:
  • H1: Active social media usage is positively related to FOMO.

  • H2: Passive social media usage is positively related to FOMO.

  • H3: Active social media usage (a) and passive social media usage (b) are positively related to FOMO.

  • H4: FOMO is positively related to the conspicuous consumption of (a) products and (b) experiences.

A pilot study was administered to undergraduate students at a small liberal arts university in the Northeast. Counter to expectations, H1 was not supported, nor were H3a and H3b were not supported. On the other hand, the relationship between passive social media use and FOMO was strong and positive, approaching significance. As hypothesized, the relationship between FOMO and conspicuous consumption of products and FOMO and conspicuous consumption of experiences were both significant, lending support to H4a and H4b.

The results of this study provide tantalizing directions for further examination. First, consistent with predictions, there appears to be a relationship between the level of passive social media usage and FOMO. Second, active social media usage does not appear to be related to FOMO, nor does the level of active social media use influence the likelihood of posting photos of oneself engaging in the conspicuous consumption of products or experiences. Third, and most interestingly, FOMO appears to be a strong motivation for engaging in conspicuous consumption through social media.

References Available Upon Request

Copyright information

© Academy of Marketing Science 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Sacred Heart UniversityFairfieldUSA

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