The development of a single item FoMO (Fear of Missing Out) scale
Benjamin C. Riordan
&Jayde A. M. Flett
&Tamlin S. Conner
#Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018
The Fear of Missing Out (FoMO) is the sense that others are having a rewarding experience which one is absent from. Given that
it is associated with the drive to remain socially connected, research has predominantly focused on the link between FoMO and
social networking use. While a 10-item measure of FoMO is widely used (FoMOs), a shorter scale may be preferable in some
circumstances and would allow FoMO to be measured in more diverse contexts. Therefore, we aimed to validate a FoMO short-
form (consisting of a single item: BDo you experience FoMO?^). In Studies 1 to 3, we measured the concurrent validity of the
FoMOsf with the 10-item FoMOs (Pearson’s R correlation between the FoMOs and FoMOsf: Study 1 r=.735,r=.654;Study2
r= .638; Study 3 r= .807). In Study 2, we measured the test-retest reliability of the FoMOsf (r= .717). In Study 2 and 3, we
measured the construct validity of the FoMOsf by linking the FoMOsf to social networking use. The FoMOsf showed good
concurrent validity, construct validity, and test-retest reliability and is adequate for use in research.
Keywords Fear of missing out .FoMO .Single-item .Ecological momentary assessment .Measurement
apprehension that others might be having rewarding experiences
from which one is absent^and is characterized by the need to
B…stay continually connected with what others are doing^
(Przybylski et al. 2013, p. 1841). Although the feeling of miss-
ing out is not a new concept, with the advent of social network-
ing sites (e.g., Facebook, Snapchat, etc.), people can now be
chronically reminded of events they are missing out on. With
respect to its psychological underpinnings, Przybylski et al.
(2013) suggest that FoMO derives from a deficit in psycholog-
ical need satisfaction such as the need for social connection.
While one could argue that social networking sites provide an
avenue for meeting some of these needs (e.g., connection), so-
cial networking sites may also serve to exacerbate FoMO by
reminding individuals what experiences they are missing out
on in real time. Accordingly, research has typically focused on
correlates between FoMO and unhealthy relationships with me-
dia and technology. For example, FoMO has been associated
with social networking site addiction (Blackwell et al. 2017;
Kuss and Griffiths 2017), the amount of stress experienced
when using social networking sites (Beyens et al. 2016), use
of mobile phones while driving/learning (Przybylski et al.
2013), decreased self-esteem (Buglass et al. 2017), college mal-
adjustment (Alt 2016), poor sleep (Adams et al. 2016), and a
range of other negative outcomes (Baker et al. 2016; Elhai et al.
2016;Oberstetal.2017; Riordan et al. 2015). Adolescents and
young adults may be particularly sensitive to FoMO as they are
more sensitive to social information than adults (Lamblin et al.
To date, FoMO has been measured predominantly using
Przybylski et al.’s(2013) 10-item FoMO scale (FoMOs; cf.
Abel et al. 2016). The FoMOs measures the extent to which
individuals fear missing out on events, experiences, or group
activities (e.g., BWhen I miss out on a planned get together it
bothers me^;BI fear others have more rewarding experiences
than me^). Participants rate each item on a five-point Likert
Louise Cody and Jayde A. M. Flett contributed equally to this work.
*Benjamin C. Riordan
Jayde A. M. Flett
Tamlin S. Conner
Department of Psychology, University of Otago, P.O. Box 56,
Dunedin 9054, New Zealand
scale from 1 (not at all true of me) to 5 (extremely true of me).
Although the FoMOs has proven a valuable tool for standard
laboratory-based contexts and longer online surveys, a single-
item measure would provide greater flexibility of use.
Although sometimes viewed as overly simplistic (e.g.,
Konrath et al. 2014), single-item measures are immensely
important in situations where there is limited time (e.g., during
in-situ/intercept interviews), when there are multiple measure-
ment points (e.g., a sample of students taking part in an online
adventure course), or when using text message or smartphone
measurement (e.g., when texting students about alcohol con-
sumption). In sum, FoMO research is still in its infancy, and a
single item measure would greatly expand the contexts in
which FoMO can be reliably measured.
The aim of the current paper was to validate a single-item
measure of FoMO –theFearofMissingOutshortform
(FoMOsf). Study 1 focused on the concurrent validity of the
FoMOsf by testing the relationship between the FoMOsf and
FoMOs. Study 2 focused on the construct validity of the
FoMOsf by testing the relationship between the FoMOsf
and social networking use. Study 2 also included test-retest
reliability of the FoMOsf. Study 3 focused on the construct
validity of the FoMOsf by testing the link between the
FoMOsf and emotions experienced while using social net-
In order to develop the FoMOsf, we used other single item
measures and methodologies as a guideline (e.g., Konrath
et al. 2014; Nichols and Webster 2013). The FoMOsf wording
was: BDo you experience FoMO (the fear of missing out)?^
and participants were asked to rate the item on a scale from 1
(no, not true of me) to 5 (yes, extremely true of me). In Study
1, we assessed the concurrent validity of the FoMOsf in a
sample of university students recruited via psychology
courses and a more diverse sample recruited online.
Psychology Recruitment Participants were a sample of 198
university students (80.8% women, 18.7% men, 0.5% other),
17–50 years old (M=19.7,SD = 3.5), who were predominant-
ly in their first three years at a major New Zealand university
(first year = 24.7%; second year = 48.5%; third year = 23.7%;
fourth or above = 3.0%), where undergraduate degrees typi-
cally take three years. The participants were largely of New
Zealand European descent (67.2%; 15.6% Asian; 5.0% Māori
or Pacific Islander; 12.2% other). Participants who expressed
interest in taking part in the research via the Department of
Psychology’s website were sent an online survey via email
where they provided informed consent. Of the 202 partici-
pants who signed up for the survey, 198 provided sufficient
information to be included in the analyses (i.e., provided com-
plete data for both FoMO measures).
Online Recruitment Participants (n= 139) were recruited
through social media (58.3% women, 37.4% men, 4.3% oth-
er), 16–51 years old (M = 24.9, SD = 5.7), and 46.0% were
university students. The participants were largely Caucasian
(51.7%) and from New Zealand (33.8%), the US (30.9%), or
Canada (14.4%, 20.9% other). Participants who expressed
interest were redirected to an online survey where they pro-
vided informed consent. Of the 240 participants who signed
up for the survey, 139 were included in the analyses (101 did
not provide data for both the FoMOs and FoMOsf).
Participants completed the 10-item FoMOs (Chronbach’s
α=.872 and α= .864 for the Psychology and online sample,
respectively) and the FoMOsf. FoMO questions were embed-
ded within a larger survey including several health measures
not relevant to the present report. Informed consent was ob-
tained from all individual participants included in the study.
There was a strong relationship between the FoMOs and
FoMOsf for both the sample recruited through the
Department of Psychology (r=.735,p< .001) and the sample
recruited online (r=.654, p<.001).
In Study 2, we assessed the construct validity of the FoMOsf
by examining the link between the FoMOsf and Facebook
engagement, distracted learning, and distracted driving
(Przybylski et al. 2013). We used Fisher’sr-to-ztransforma-
tions to determine whether the relationship between each of
the FoMO scales and the outcome measures were significantly
Participants were a university sample of 330 university stu-
dents (73.9% women, 25.5% men, 0.6% other), 17–40 years
old (M=19.6, SD = 2.2), who were predominantly in their
first three years at university (first year = 34.5%; second
year = 50.0%; third year = 12.7%; fourth or above = 2.4%).
As in Study 1, participants were largely of New Zealand
European descent (67.0%; 13.4% Asian; 4.8% Māori or
Pacific Islander; 14.8% other). Participants who expressed
interest in taking part in the research via the Department of
Psychology’s website were sent an online survey via email
where they provided informed consent. Data were combined
from two surveys that used the same recruitment and reim-
bursement methods, with the surveys only differing in the
time of year they were completed. Forty-three participants
completed both surveys. Therefore, we included their first
survey response in the main analyses. For secondary analy-
ses, we assessed the test-retest validity of the two FoMO
scale using the 43 participants who took part in both sur-
veys. For completeness, we controlled for length of time
Participants completed a number of questions that included
the FoMOs (Cronbach’sα= .848) and the FoMOsf.
Participants also answered questions on typical social net-
working use, Facebook engagement, distracted learning, and
distracted driving. FoMO questions were embedded within a
larger survey including several health measuresnot relevant to
the present report. Informed consent was obtained from all
individual participants included in the study.
Facebook Engagement Facebook engagement was assessed
using the five-item Social Media Engagement questionnaire
(α= .803; Przybylski et al. 2013). Participants were asked to
indicate how often they had used Facebook in a number of
situations in the past week (e.g., BWithin 15 minutes of wak-
ing up^). Responses were scored on 5-point Likert scales (1 =
not one day last week to 5 = every day last week).
Distracted Learning Distracted learning was assessed using
the single item employed by Przybylski et al. (2013).
Participants were asked to report the number of lectures they
had used Facebook in during the last week. Responses were
scored on a 5-point scale (1 = zero lectures, 2 = 1–2 lectures,
3=3–4 lectures, 4 = 5–6 lectures, and 5 = 7 or more lectures).
Distracted Driving Distracted driving was assessed using
Przybylski et al.'s (2013) distracted driving question (α= .960).
Participants were asked to indicate how often they had experi-
enced a number of situations as a driver in the past 3 months
(e.g., text/emailed while driving). Responses were scored on a 5-
point scale (1 = Not applicable, 2 = No, 3 = Yes, once or
twice, 4 = Yes, occasionally, 5 = Yes, often). The five items
were averaged to create a Distracted Driving score.
Results and Discussion
As in Study 1, there was a significant relationship between the
FoMOsf and FoMOs (r= .638, p< .001). With respect to
Facebook engagement, both the FoMOs (r=.283, p<.001)
and the FoMOsf (r=.206, p< .001) were related to overall
Facebook engagement. These correlations were not significant-
ly different from each other (z=1.05, p= 0.294). Moreover,
both scales were related to each of the individual items on the
Facebook engagement scale and r-to-z transformations showed
that there was no significant difference between the relation-
ships: Bused Facebook within 15 minutes of waking up^
(FoMOs: r=.169, p=.002; FoMOsf: r=.159, p=.004; z=
0.13, p= 0.897), Bwhile eating breakfast^(FoMOs: r= .211,
p< .001; FoMOsf: r= .179, p= .001; z=0.43, p= 0.667),
Bwhile eating lunch^(FoMOs: r= .208, p< .001; FoMOsf:
r=.116, p= .036; z=1.21, p= 0.226), Bwhile eating dinner^
(FoMOs: r=.235, p<.001; FoMOsf: r=.143, p=.010; z=
1.22, p= 0.223), Bwithin 15 minutes of going to sleep^
(FoMOs: r=.242, p<.001; FoMOsf: r=.
174, p=.002; z=
Only 261 participants answered the distracted learning
question. Both the FoMOs (r= .268, p< .001) and the
FoMOsf (r=.244, p< .001) were significantly related to dis-
tracted learning. These correlations were not significantly dif-
ferent from each other (z=0.29, p= 0.772). In contrast, nei-
ther the FoMOs (r=−.011, p= .841) nor the FoMOsf
(r= .056, p= .308) were related to distracted driving (z=
−0.86, p= 0.390). When removing those who reported no
driving (i.e., Not applicable; n= 114), there was still no rela-
tionship between the FoMOs (r= .096, p= .162) or the
FoMOsf (r=.108, p= .113) and distracted driving (z=0.13,
p= 0.897). There was, however, a relationship between the
FoMOs and FoMOsf on the item asking about Bglancing at
phone while driving^(FoMOs: r=.141, p= .038; FoMOsf:
r=.137, p=.044; z= 0.04, p= 0.968). Thus, both FoMO
scales showed similar patterns with respect to distracted driv-
ing. The lack of linkbetween both FoMO scales and distracted
driving likely reflected the fact that the participants were at-
tending a university located in a small city (i.e., driving is not
the dominant mode of transport).
Study 2b Test-Retest Reliability
The 43 participants who completed both surveys were pre-
dominantly women (79.1% women, 20.9% men), 18–22 years
old (M=19.5,SD = 1.0), in their first three years at university
(first year = 11.5%; second year = 67.4%; third year = 20.9%),
and were largely of New Zealand European descent (76.7%;
16.3% Asian; 4.7% Indian; 2.3% other). On average, they
completed the two surveys 53.7 days apart (SD = 10.7;
range = 29–75).
There was a strong correlation between the FoMOs at Time
1andtheFoMOsatTime2(r=.716,p< .001) and FoMOsf at
Time 1 and the FoMOsf at Time 2 (r=.717,p< .001). These
correlations were not significantly different from each other
(z=0.01,p= 0.992). When running a partial correlation, con-
trolling for days since the last survey, there was still a strong
link between the FoMOsf scores (r=.727, p< .001) and
FoMOs scores (r= .720, p< .001; z=0.07, p=0.944).
Suggesting both measures have good test-retest reliability.
Overall, the results of Study 2a and 2b indicate the
FoMOsf has good construct validity, displaying similar
(if slightly weaker) relations with measures of Facebook
engagement, distracted learning, and distracted driving,
as the FoMOs. Further, much like the FoMOs, the
FoMOsf displays good test-retest reliability.
In Study 3, we aimed to replicate and extend the con-
struct validity of the FoMOsf by examining the relation-
ship between the FOMOs, the FoMOsf, and the same
measures tested in Study 2 (Facebook engagement, dis-
tracted learning, distracted driving), and further, to ex-
amine their relationships with emotions experienced
when using Facebook as found in Przybylski et al.’s
(2013) study. As in Study 2, we used Fisher’sr-to-z
transformations to determine whether the relationship
between each FoMO scales and outcome measure were
Participants were 90 third year undergraduate students taking
part in a psychology course (84.4% women, 14.4% men, 1.1%
other). Participants were predominantly NZ European (74.7%,
3.3% Māori, 13.2% Asian, 8.8% Other) and were 18–26 years
old (M= 20.9, SD = 1.4). Slightly fewer individuals identified as
Māori and Asian than the wider university population and there
were no participants who identifed as Pacific Islander.
Procedure, Materials, and Measures
A classroom performance system programme (CPS; Banxia
Software Ltd. UK, 2012) was used for data collection.
Specifically, participants were provided with classroom
clickers and answered questionnaire items by pressing the letter
or number on the clicker that corresponded to their preferred
response. In addition to the questionnaires, basic demographic
information such as gender, age group, and ethnicity was also
collected. Participants completed a number of questions and
completed the FoMOsf before the FoMOs (Chronbach’s
α= .841). As per Study 2, participants also answered questions
on Facebook engagement (α= .824), distracted learning, and
distracted driving (α= .962). Finally, we also assessed ambiv-
alent emotional experiences when using Facebook with the 20-
item Positive and Negative Affect Schedule (PANAS;
α= .862; Watson et al. 1988) The scale is composed of 10
items measuring activated positive affect (e.g., excited, in-
spired) and 10 items measuring activated negative affect (e.g.,
distressed, irritable). Responses were scored on a 5-point scale
(1 = Very slightly or not at all to 5 = Extremely). Informed con-
sent was obtained from all individual participants included in
Results and Discussion
As in Study 1, there was a strong relationship between
the FoMOsf and FoMOs (r=.807, p< .001) and, as in Study
2, the FoMOs (r=.307,p< .001) and the FoMOsf (r=.290,
p< .001) were related to overall Facebook engagement. These
correlations were not significantly different from each other
(z=0.12, p= 0.905). Surprisingly, for the 87 participants that
completed the distracted learning question, neither the FoMOs
(r=.181, p= .088) nor the FoMOsf (r=.166, p= .119) were
related to distracted learning (z=0.10, p=0.920). Apotential
explanation for this finding is that Study 3 was conducted
toward the end of the semester, when exams were imminent,
leading students to be more focused during lectures. Similar to
Study 2, neither the FoMOs (r=−.187, p= .078) nor the
FoMOsf (r=−.116, p=−.116) were related to distracted driv-
ing (z=0.48,p= 0.631). As in Study 2, this likely reflects the
campus location in relation to student housing. Finally, both
the FoMOs (r= .534, p< .001) and the FoMOsf (r= .470,
p< .001) were related to negative emotions when using
Facebook (z= 0.56, p= 0.576). Similarly, both the FoMOs
(r=.356, p< .001) and the FoMOsf (r=.274, p< .001) were
related to positive emotions when using Facebook (z= 0.6,
p= 0.549). These patterns suggest that those higher in
FoMO were more likely to experience greater emotional highs
and lows when using Facebook. Finally, in Study 3 the
FoMOsf was presented before the FoMOs and the findings
were comparable to those of Study 1 and 2 in which the
FoMOs was presented first.
With the advent of social networking sites, people are more
chronically aware of what they are missing out on than ever
before and there is a growing body of work demonstrating that
this feeling (i.e., FoMO) is related to a number of negative
behaviours (Przybylski et al. 2013) and health outcomes
(Baker et al. 2016;Beyensetal.2016; Riordan et al. 2015).
The aim of the current series of studies was to develop and test
a single-item FoMO scale (FoMOsf) in order to extend the
contexts in which FoMO can be measured. Supporting the
validity of the FoMOsf, Study 1 demonstrated it has good
concurrent validity, correlatingwellwiththeFoMOs.
Studies 2a and 3 demonstrated it has high construct validity,
displaying a similar relationship as the FoMOs with measures
of Facebook engagement, distracted learning, distracted driv-
ing, and measures of positive and negative activated affect
experienced while using Facebook. Further, Study 2b demon-
strated that the FoMOsf displays acceptable test-retest reliabil-
ity. Although there are no firm guidelines regarding the level
of reliability short-form measures should meet, according to
Widaman et al. (2011) the FoMOsf could be classified as
Badequate for research purposes^(pp. 46).
Three studies demonstrate the validity and reliability of the
FoMOsf as a measure of the Fear of Missing Out. The
FoMOsf now joins a number of other short-form measures
that have been developed to overcome some of the limitations
associated with longer measures (Nichols and Webster 2013;
Nichols and Webster 2014; Robins et al. 2001; Woods and
Hampson 2005). It is important to note, however, that the
FoMOsf is not a replacement for the FoMOs. When the time
is available and the context is appropriate, the FoMOs should
be employed. However, when time is short and non-traditional
assessment approaches are employed (e.g., in-situ/intercept
interviews), the FoMOsf provides a valid and reliable method
of measuring FoMO. Future research should test the psycho-
metric properties of the FoMOsf for wider population-based
surveys and smartphone-based experience sampling studies
where survey space is limited.
Acknowledgements This research was funded by the Health Research
Council of New Zealand (Grant Number: 17/568) and University of
Otago Research Grant, both awarded to Damian Scarf. Benjamin Riordan
was sponsored by a Fulbright New Zealand General Graduate Award.
Compliance with Ethical Standards
Conflict of Interest On behalf of all authors, the corresponding author
states that there is no conflict of interest.
Ethical Approval All procedures performed in studies involving human
participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institu-
tional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki
declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.
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