Date of Award

Spring 4-27-2018

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

MS Experimental Psychology

Department

Psychology

Advisor

Susan Nolan, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Paige Fisher, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Andrew Simon, Ph.D.

Keywords

fomo, anxiety, smartphones, attachment

Abstract

Previous research shows that college students tend to experience increased anxiety when they are separated from their smartphone. This anxiety has been suggested to be due to attachment, where college students have formed an attachment to their smartphone. Another explanation for this anxiety is the fear of missing out (FoMO), where college students experience worry when they cannot check in with their friends. No existing study to my knowledge has simultaneously examined the separate impact of attachment to phones and FoMO on anxiety levels, particularly during a stressful situation. The current study examines the separate and combined impacts of FoMO and attachment to phones on anxiety levels during a stressful situation. To induce anxiety, participants wrote a paragraph about a flaw of theirs and were told that they would be interviewed about this paragraph; however, the interview did not occur. Participants were assigned to two conditions – attachment, in which they were separated from their phone prior to the experiment, and FoMO, in which they either did or did not receive a phone call they were not able to answer. Participants’ anxiety levels were measured via the STAI at the end of the experiment. Overall, the results suggest that both FoMO and attachment play a role in creating anxiety among smartphone users. Understanding how smartphones influence anxiety is important in determining how to prevent people from developing unhealthy relationships with this device.

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