By John Salak –
There is a lot written about JOMO and FOMO of late, and lots of the reporting isn’t exactly a ringing endorsement of either.
JOMO for the uniform stands for the joy of missing out. It has been popularized as a healthy enjoyment of solitude, which on the surface seems in direct contrast to FOMO, which means the fear of missing out. Those bummed out experience FOMO because others seem to have a good time without them. Pop culture claims that people embracing JOMO are just fine missing out and chilling alone.
Washington State University would beg to disagree with this JOMO assessment. A study sponsored by the university reports that most people who ranked highly in JOMO also had high anxiety. Social contact, or the lack thereof, may be the reason for these JOMO troubles.
“In general, a lot of people like being connected,” said the study’s lead author, Chris Barry, a WSU psychology professor. “When trying to assess JOMO, we found that some people were enjoying missing out, not for the solitude or a Zen-like, calming experience of being able to regroup, but more to avoid social interaction.”
The research team discovered an unexpected correlation between JOMO and high social media use. Barry suggested that using social media to check in on friends was a way for the socially anxious to connect to a group of people less intensely than in-person interaction.
The university researchers based their findings on surveys with two different sets of about 500 participants. The surveys probed enjoyment levels while spending time alone and disconnection, such as whether the participants liked time to self-reflect or were happy to see friends having a good time even if they weren’t with them. The outreach also included questions to assess loneliness, social anxiety, social media use, personality traits and life satisfaction.
Both survey groups found connections between those high in JOMO and social media use and life satisfaction. But there were high to moderate associations in these individuals with social anxiety and loneliness.
The researchers noted that previous studies established a connection between the fear of missing out to low self-esteem and loneliness. These latest findings indicate that the experience of the joy of missing out is not as clear. Barry noted that JOMO ultimately might not be a stable state or linked to personality traits but rather a momentary phase of needing to disconnect.
“There are a lot of unanswered questions like ‘what’s a good dosage of social interaction versus disengagement? I think that’s going to differ for everyone,” Barry said.
The importance of individual differences or personality traits in determining life satisfaction was the focus of a similar study published by the American Psychological Association. This research noted that personality traits are linked to satisfaction levels despite changes in a person’s social roles or responsibilities during their lifetimes.
“Many studies have shown that people with certain personality profiles are more satisfied with their life than others. Yet, it had not been extensively studied whether this holds across the lifespan,” explained the study co-author Gabriel Olaru, Ph.D., an assistant professor at Tilburg University in The Netherlands.
Olaru’s team determined its findings by analyzing data on personality traits and life satisfaction levels collected from almost 10,000 Dutch adults over 11 years.
The Dutch researchers found that most relationships between personality traits and satisfaction remained constant across the adult lifespan. Emotional stability was most strongly associated with people’s satisfaction with life, social connections and career.
“Our findings show that—despite differences in life challenges and social roles—personality traits are relevant for our satisfaction with life, work and social contacts across young, middle and older adulthood,” noted the study’s co-author Manon van Scheppingen. “The personality traits remained equally relevant across the adult lifespan or became even more interconnected in some cases for work satisfaction.”
The personality traits most related to personal satisfaction with social lives and careers were conscientiousness for work, extraversion and agreeableness.
“Emotional stability likely shows a strong link with global and domain-specific satisfaction because this trait colors people’s general view of the world,” Olaru explained.
Both research projects acknowledged that individuals change over their lifetimes, impacting their satisfaction levels. Nonetheless, certain traits maintain an underlying influence on happiness and anxiety levels.