Undergraduate Honours Theses
The aim of this study was to explore the predictors of emerging adults’ engagement in risky online challenges. Social-related constructs including need to belong (NB), need for popularity (NP) and perceived peer engagement (PPE) in risky online challenges were the main predictor variables of interest. Further, because past research identifies fear of missing out (FoMO) as a key explanatory variable in the link between social motives and online behaviour, I examined it as a mediator in my analyses. In the present study, emerging adults (N = 332; 56.33% women) aged 18 to 26 years (Mage = 21.36) completed an online survey in which they indicated what risky online challenges they had done. They also completed self-report measures on NB, NP, PPE and FoMO. It was hypothesized that emerging adults who experienced a stronger NB (H1), NP (H2) and more PPE in risky online challenges (H3) at Time 1 would engage in more risky online challenges at Time 2. Finally, I proposed that heightened FoMO would mediate each of the aforementioned relationships (H4). Results indicated that 51% of participants had engaged in risky online challenges in the past. H2 and H3 were supported, with NP and PPE in risky online challenges predicting participants’ own engagement in online challenges. FoMO, however, was not found to be a mediator for any of the relationships. Results emphasize the worrisome prevalence of risky online challenges and point to the importance of addressing emerging adults’ popularity motives and peer norms in prevention efforts.
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Thesis Advisor: Dr. Tara Dumas