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Journal of Business Research 136 (2021) 186–197
Available online 29 July 2021
0148-2963/© 2021 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc. This is an open access article under the CC BY license ( and behavioral outcomes of social media-induced fear of
missing out at the workplace
Anushree Tandon a, Amandeep Dhir b,c,d,*, Nazrul Islam e, Shalini Talwar f, Matti M ̈antym ̈aki a
a Turku School of Economics, University of Turku, Finland
b Department of Management, School of Business & Law, University of Agder, Kristiansand, Norway
c The Norwegian School of Hotel Management, Faculty of Social Sciences, Stavanger, Norway
d Optentia Research Focus Area, North-West University, Vanderbijlpark, South Africa
e Department of Science, Innovation, Technology and Entrepreneurship, University of Exeter Business School, England, UK
f K J Somaiya Institute of Management, Somaiya Vidyavihar University, Mumbai, India
The dark side of social media
Work performance
The intense proliferation of social media platforms into every facet of human lives has engaged researchers
attention towards understanding their adverse influences, referred to as the dark side of social media (DoSM) in
the evolving literature. A relatively unexplored context in this regard is employees personal use of social media
during work hours and its impact on work-related outcomes. Since using social media during work hours can
have implications for work performance and productivity, the lack of research in the area needs to be addressed
by scholars sooner rather than later. Specifically, it is important to understand the drivers and outcomes of such
behaviour. We have thus conceptualized a theoretical model based on the associations among individual ten-
dencies (exhibitionism and voyeurism), fear of missing out (FoMO), and individual-level psychological
(compulsive use of social media) and behavioral (work performance decrement and procrastination) outcomes of
social media use during work hours. Grounded in the stressor-strain-outcomes (SSO) framework, the hypothe-
sized associations were tested by a path analysis of 312 responses collected from individuals working in the
United States. The results confirmed significant relationships between individual tendencies and FoMO, as well
as psychological and behavioural outcomes. The findings contribute to the evolving literature around DoSM in
the workplace and offer useful and practical insights.
1. Introduction
The fear of missing out (FoMO) has garnered significant attention
from scholars in the recent past. This phenomenon commonly refers to
an individuals apprehensions or concerns about missing socially or
personally gratifying experiences that others might be having. Although
FoMO was initially conceptualized in the offline or real-world context
(Przybylski et al., 2013), the concept has found widespread applicability
in regard to social media use. FoMO has been associated with the dark
side of social media (DoSM) (e.g., Talwar et al., 2019), which refers to
the posited negative implications of social media use on individual well-
being, such as in terms of a heightened experience of loneliness (Appel
et al., 2020), a posited higher use of these platforms by narcissists
(James et al., 2017), and strategic self-presentation vis-`a-vis an
individuals true self (Jang et al., 2018). Subsequently, researchers have
called for further exploration of the effect that phenomena associated
with DoSM, such as FoMO and digital platforms, have on the lives of
individuals (Dhir et al., 2019; 2021; James et al., 2017; Malik et al.,
The past seven years have seen a steadfast increase in research
examining FoMO (Tandon et al., 2021), which can be attributed to its
evidentiary relationship with online vulnerability (Thompson et al.,
2021) and problematic social media use behaviours, such as fake news
and misinformation sharing (Talwar et al., 2019), sleep disturbances
(Tandon et al., 2020), and social media fatigue (Malik et al., 2020).
Moreover, scholars have found social media use and FoMO to be
adversely associated with users physical and mental well-being. In
terms of diminished mental well-being, for instance, FoMO has
* Corresponding author at: Department of Management, School of Business & Law, University of Agder, Kristiansand, Norway (A. Dhir).
E-mail addresses: (A. Dhir), (N. Islam), (S. Talwar),
(M. M ̈antym ̈aki).
Contents lists available at ScienceDirect
Journal of Business Research
journal homepage:
Received 7 April 2021; Received in revised form 14 July 2021; Accepted 17 July 2021
Journal of Business Research 136 (2021) 186–197
187beendetermined to be related to hedonic well-being (Berezan et al.,
2020), depression (Elhai et al., 2020a, 2020b), and envy (Yin et al.,
2019). Similarly, scholars have found limited evidence supporting the
association of FoMO with negative physical symptoms like headaches
(Baker et al., 2016) as well as activities that may harm individuals
physical safety, such as distracted walking in urban locales (Appel et al.,
Despite the existing body of knowledge, our understanding of FoMO
is still constrained by some persisting gaps in the social media literature.
First, there is limited information about FoMOs association with indi-
vidual personality traits and tendencies. Scholars have primarily tested
this association for the Big Five personality traits (Milyavskaya et al.,
2018; Rozgonjuk et al., 2020b; Stead & Bibby, 2017), although the re-
sults of these tests have been inconsistent. For instance, while Stead and
Bibby (2017) found a negative correlation between FoMO and the per-
sonality traits of emotional stability and conscientiousness, Milyavskaya
et al. (2018) found FoMO to be unrelated to personality traits. Other
personality dimensions, such as the Dark Triad (Stiff, 2019) and exhi-
bitionism (M ̈antym ̈aki & Islam, 2016), to name a few, have remained
relatively less investigated by contrast.
Second, the research has primarily focused on understanding the
relationship of FoMO with personal psychological outcomes, such as the
compulsive use of social media (Blackwell et al., 2017) and social media
fatigue (Malik et al., 2020), as well as behavioural outcomes like
problematic sleep (Dhir et al., 2021), in the context of adolescents and
university students. In comparison, a limited number of studies have
focused on working professionals (e.g., Tandon et al., 2020). Subse-
quently, we have lesser knowledge of how FoMO affects the psycho-
logical responses of these individuals. Additionally, there is limited
understanding regarding how FoMO influences working professionals
work-related behavioural responses or outcomes, such as employee
performance and motivation (Budnick et al., 2020). We argue that this is
a critical gap because personal social media and smartphone use have
significantly increased during working hours (Farivar & Richardson,
2020), especially since the onset of the coronavirus lockdowns (COVID-
19, Kemp, 2020).
Third, there has been limited investigation of FoMO as a direct
antecedent or predictor (Błachnio & Przepi ́orka, 2018). For instance,
scholars have mainly tested the indirect influence of FoMO for adverse
outcomes associated with problematic social media use (e.g., Tandon
et al., 2020). Moreover, there is conflicting information about the
directionality of these associations (Tandon et al., 2020) and the path-
ways through which FoMO translates into adverse outcomes, especially
in the workplace, which is an under-investigated context of FoMO-
oriented research. It is critical to investigate these associations in the
workplace context as the resulting knowledge can facilitate the devel-
opment of interventions to help organizations manage FoMO-driven
social media use during work hours.
We argue that these visible gaps indicate that FoMO remains an
under-researched phenomenon in the work-environment context and
suggest the need to closely examine the mechanism-of-effect or path-
ways through which FoMO influences working individuals. Prior studies
have supported our contention, with scholars similarly calling for deeper
investigations to expand the current understanding of FoMO along with
its antecedents and consequences (Chai et al., 2019). The objective of
our study is to address these gaps by raising and answering three
research questions (RQs):
RQ1. What is the nature of the association between individual ten-
dencies (exhibitionism & voyeurism) and FoMO?
RQ2. How is FoMO associated with the psychological outcome of
compulsive use of social media during work hours for working
RQ3. How is the FoMO-driven psychological outcome of compulsive
use of social media associated with the behavioural outcomes of
procrastination and work performance decrement for working
The proposed associations are conceptualized using the theoretical
insights of the stressor-strain-outcome (SSO) framework, wherein the
individual tendencies of exhibitionism and voyeurism represent the
stressor, FoMO represents the strain, and individual-level manifesta-
tions, i.e., psychological (compulsive use of social media) and behav-
ioral (work performance decrement and procrastination) represent the
outcomes. We addressed the three RQs and tested the proposed associ-
ations by analyzing 312 responses collected through a cross-sectional
survey of adult social media users (full-time working professionals)
from the United States of America (US).
The novelty of our study rests on three key contributions. First, we
look at hitherto under-studied individual traits/tendencies (exhibi-
tionism and voyeurism) as internal stressors that aggravate FoMO and
influence individuals psychological and behavioural outcomes at the
workplace. Second, we focus on working adults, which is a lesser-
investigated respondent group in social media research. Third, we
advance the current knowledge by looking at a dual level of responses, i.
e., psychological and behavioural. We expect FoMO to be positively
associated with compulsive use of social media (CUS) as a psychological
outcome at the first level. At the second level, we study and expect a
positive association of CUS with two forms of behavioral outcomes: (a)
reduced work efficiency and timely response (procrastination) and (b)
work performance decrement. We believe that studying a dual level of
consequences or outcomes is likely to more effective in uncovering the
complex dynamics by which individuals FoMO translates into adverse
work-related outcomes for them. Since prior studies have posited that
the consequences of using a particular technology may be related more
to the manner of their usage than the affordances of the technology itself
(Chandra et al., 2012), we believe that our study would highlight how
individual stressors and strains contribute to the negative outcomes
experienced by social media users. To our knowledge, no prior study has
concurrently examined the behavioral outcomes of CUS and FoMO,
giving us a reason to contend that our findings will significantly advance
the existing knowledge on FoMO.
The rest of the manuscript is structured as follows. Section Two
presents the theoretical background, and Section Three details the hy-
pothesized associations. Thereafter, we discuss the methodology fol-
lowed for this study in Section Four and the data analysis results in
Section Five. We discuss the findings in Section Six. Finally, in Section
Seven, we present the concluding remarks, implications for theory and
practice, limitations of this study, and future research areas.
2. Theoretical background
2.1. Theory: Stressor-strain-outcome framework
The stressor-strain-outcome (SSO) framework (Koeske & Koeske,
1993) is a popular framework in social media research that has been
used to study the antecedents of social media fatigue (Dhir et al., 2019;
Whelan et al., 2020) and dissatisfaction (Zhang et al., 2016), among
others outcomes. SSO has been used to study mental conditions, job-
related stress (Koeske et al., 1993), and the specific pre-conditions
that can act as stressors for technology use (Ayyagari et al., 2011).
The framework encompasses the three key aspects of (a) stressor: the
behavioral and emotional (i.e., psychological) stimulants that can have a
problematic impact on individuals; (b) strain: the adverse emotions or
states experienced due to the stress; and (c) outcomes: the decrement in
performance, productivity, and psychological and physiological func-
tioning of the individual due to the strain (Dhir et al., 2019).
While other theoretical frameworks like stimulus-organism-response
(Jacoby, 2002) may have also been suitable, SSO was chosen to ground
the study framework because it allows for the study of the link between a
person and their situation on their experienced psychological strains, as
A. Tandon et al.