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Are Your Mobile Apps Hurting Your Investment Decisions?

Hint: turn off push notifications. Accounting Professor Shana Clor-Proell examined how short, frequent pieces of financial information, push notifications, and the fear of missing out interact to affect an individual's investment decisions.

August 25, 2020

By Rose Rennekamp

Shana Clor-ProellNobody likes missing out on a good thing, but people differ in how much they experience a “fear of missing out” (FoMO). Just like we may have FoMO about exciting social experiences, Clor-Proell’s research has identified a unique type of FoMO that is more related to your retirement account than to your Facebook newsfeed.

Her research, “Mobile Devices and Investment News Apps: The Effects of Information Release, Push Notification, and the Fear of Missing Out,” is forthcoming in The Accounting Review.

Clor-Proell and her colleagues, Kristi Rennekamp and Ryan Guggenmos at Cornell University, researched how short, frequent pieces of financial information, push notifications, and the fear of missing out interact to affect an individual’s investment decisions.

“When push notifications highlight positive news, investors respond more favorably to shorter releases than to longer releases that contain the same information,” Clor-Proell said. “Further, there are differences in the way people respond. Those who have “I-FoMO” – a fear of missing out on investment information – respond even more favorably to pushed notifications and shorter, interspersed releases. They also open apps more frequently, looking for investment news. And they find it difficult to ignore interruptions.”

Media companies play a key role in disseminating investment information via mobile apps — both by optimizing content for mobile delivery and by providing push notifications.

“Investors pay attention to financial information disseminated through the media, even if it is an exact repetition of information released by the firm,” she said.

As media outlets repackage content into shorter, stand-alone pieces and develop new notification technologies like RSS feeds and text alerts to increase user engagement, they have the clear potential to impact investor decisions.

“If you fear missing out on investment opportunities, think about turning off push notifications in mobile apps. They may not be helping your investment decisions,” Clor-Proell said.

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Photo: Shana Clor-Proell

Shana Clor-Proell

Accounting Department

Neeley 3209