Acronym for “fear of missing out.” The social anxiety over missing out on something important. The fear is tied to regret and imagined possibilities, exacerbated by social media. 

This is a subject for behavioral economics, which studies the effects of psychological, cognitive, emotional, cultural and social factors on the economic decisions of individuals and institutions. Behavioral economics often contradict the classical economic theory, which developed under the assumption that human beings are perfectly rational agents. 

Dan Ariely, Professor of behavioral economics at Duke University, explained that FOMO is caused by anticipation of regret, as we compare our present state on what “we could have been.” This is called “reference dependence,” as defined by Daniel Kahneman, (winner of the 2002 Nobel Prize in economics) in his 1979 book Prospect Theory: An Analysis of Decision Under Risk.

High-res logo