Fear Of Missing Out Makes You An Idiot


Reading Time :5 Minutes

What you may know :

How we get fooled by  shortages, discounts & limited time offers !

In late 19th century huge diamond deposits were discovered in the mines of South Africa. The British companies, which were operating these mines, realized that if all the diamonds were released in the market, the prices would fall down and the number of buyers would go down as the exclusivity tag won’t be there..

To overcome this problem, they devised one of the most successful marketing campaigns of all times.

De Beers Consolidated Mines Ltd. (now De Beers) was formed monopolised the global production and distribution of diamonds, and supply was controlled perpetuating the illusion of scarcity of diamonds.

A Diamond is Forever’ campaign was created to build an emotional association with the gem – a symbol of love, commitment and marriage.

Special scenes were added in Hollywood movies , stories were tweaked to make  hero to propose for marriage with a diamond ting. Thus began the tradition of engagement ring.

Till now, the number of diamonds in circulation in the world market at any given time is carefully controlled by a few companies.

And ever since the demand for diamond engagement rings has been steady despite their relatively low resale value, fueled by the enduring deception of scarcity.

How it happened?

It can be roughly simplified down to this : the more scarce a resource is, the more people are ready to pay premium in order to acquire it and the more common a resource it the less people will be enthusiastic to pay  to get it.

This black hole suggests that humans will consider a scarce commodity to be more valuable as compared to one that is in abundance.

Why it happens?

It is based upon reactance theory of human psychology.

It says that when people feel that their freedom to choose an action is threatened, they get an unpleasant feeling called ‘reactance’. This motivates them to perform certain behaviors by which they want to prove that their free will has not been compromised.So, when we think we might miss out, not be chosen, or be denied what we want, we react

You can see it very clearly in children. When you tell Johny he can’t eat his chewing gum, he immediately gobbles it up. Apparently, according to the research, grown-ups are no different.


Many a times we end up buying things that we may not even need and on several occasions we stop looking for options. The black hole of scarcity takes over our mind, and other rationales take a back seat.


How marketers (and you can) use this black hole?

Few companies tend to trigger their customers’ sense of urgency in following ways:

  • Limited-number – Item is in short supply
  • Limited-time – Item is only available during a limited time period.
  • One-of-a-kind Specials – One time offer. Festival specials, Anniversary specials,

We can see this black hole in action in our daily life.

For instance, sites like makemytrip.com tell you how many seats are left while booking a flight- ticket, hoardings outside the shopping malls shout about ‘last-day-of-sale’, a real-estate broker tries to impress upon you to take a quick decision as there’re other buyers are in the queue for the house you zeroed-in.

Tactics such as this heighten anxiety over the possibility of missing out and therefore generate a sense of urgency to act as soon as possible.

How to resist:

Calm down, give it a pause, think whether you really need it, and think whether it can wait for few more days, check data from different sources.

You can learn about different traps of human behaviour by clicking on any of the following:

-What are the human behaviour traps & How marketers use them ?

-Trap 1- based on principle of reciprocity 

-Trap 2 -based on the principle of scarcity (you’re here)

-Trap 3 -based on the principle of liking 

-Trap 4 -based on  the principle of social-proof

-Trap 5- based on the principle of authority 

-Trap 6 -based on the principle of commitment 


if you want to read about all these traps in one go, click here.
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