Transformative Topics

Welcome to May’s Transformative Topics. In honor of Mental Health Awareness Month, we continue to feature work that aims to increase awareness about the vital role mental health plays in our overall well-being and the opportunity for marketing researchers to contribute to consumer mental health. This week we feature a paper by a multi-author team led by Steve Chan on social media and mindfulness. We are sure we could all decrease our doom scrolling some! Be sure to check out the full paper on the TCR website here.


Here is what Steve and the team say about their paper:


This body of work stems from our 2015 TCR conference track, where several authors of this paper created a framework that introduced mindful consumption as a remedy for mindless consumer consumption, resulting in the paper Mindfulness: Its Transformative Potential for Consumer, Societal, and Environmental Well-Being (2019 Journal of Public Policy & Marketing Thomas C. Kinnear award recipient) (Bahl et al., 2016). This featured paper applies that ‘mindful consumption framework’ to the domain of social media to develop our Social Media Mindfulness Practice (SMMP) as a tool to improve mental health and well-being. When we first conceived of this project before the pandemic, mindless use of social media was gaining attention as a national health crisis, especially for the youth. We believe the problem has escalated into a mental health epidemic that demands our attention for solutions. Recent meta-analysis evidence from over 220 studies firmly links social media use to increases in both anxiety and depression (Hancock et al., 2022). The fear of missing out (FOMO) epitomizes the anxiety and negative mental health outcomes of mindless social media usage. Our mindfulness practice for social media aims to shift consumers off of the mindless path of FOMO use onto a more mindful path we call the joy or missing out (JOMO).


Earlier this month, the American Psychological Association (APA) issued a health advisory on social media usage with guidelines for the youth. These guidelines include monitoring and limiting social media usage. As highlighted in this paper, we believe that mindfulness provides a powerful tool to complement these guidelines because mindless social media use is a habit, and like most habits, difficult to change. Asking people, especially youth, to restrict social media usage requires lots of self-control, which depletes and proves unsustainable longer term. Instead, our mindfulness approach requires fewer cognitive resources and provides a more sustainable solution. Our approach asks consumers to acquire awareness of their needs and intentions for social media use and then align their actions through mindful usage. Over time, mindful usage can become automatic and replace the habit of mindless usage for a more satisfying experience with more positive mental health outcomes.


Our efforts continue, from conceptual towards impact. We are currently testing our Social Media Mindfulness Practice (SMMP) in preparation for our TCR conference track 3 (coming up in June), where we have partnered with a not-for-profit impact partner, Positive Youth & Family Development Services, with the aim of helping young women reduce negative mental health outcomes from habitual social media use. Our pilot studies have provided promising results in both reducing and improving the quality of social media usage. Next, we plan to refine the SMMP and then conduct a controlled field study to demonstrate its effectiveness. Longer term we aim to continue this work and help multiple consumer segments shift from FOMO to JOMO. For further information and to follow our journey, please visit our website:



Mindless use of social media has led consumers to experience negative mental health outcomes. In this research, the authors focus on the fear of missing out (FOMO) as a key determinant of those negative outcomes by illustrating how repeated social media use forms a chronic habit loop termed “social media FOMO.” The authors introduce a “Social Media FOMO to JOMO” framework, where they describe how mindless use can lead to social media FOMO and propose a novel Social Media Mindfulness Practice (SMMP) as a remedy to help consumers reduce FOMO and adopt a path called the joy of missing out (JOMO) that provides greater well-being. Based on the “Social Media FOMO to JOMO” framework and the SMMP, the authors suggest future research and highlight implications for consumers, marketers, and policy makers to promote more mindful social media use.



Chan, S. S., Van Solt, M., Cruz, R. E., Philp, M., Bahl, S., Serin, N., Amaral, N. B., Schindler, R., Bartosiak, A., Kumar, S., & Canbulut, M. (2022). Social media and mindfulness: From the fear of missing out (FOMO) to the joy of missing out (JOMO). Journal of Consumer Affairs, 56( 3), 1312– 1331.


As always, don’t forget to stop by the TCR Publication Repository to find more great articles on mental health in the marketing domain.


Written on behalf of your TCR Digital Outreach Team:

Laurel Steinfield, PhD -

Roland Gau, PhD -

Shauna Kearney, PhD -

Naz Onel, PhD -

Jane Machin, PhD -

Daniela Alcoforado, PhD

Furkan Adem Guven, doctoral candidate


If you have suggestions for articles or topics to feature please reach out to any member of the Digital Outreach Team. 

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