Health & Nutrition / Publication Abstract

Weight Loss Through Virtual Support Communities: A Role for Identity-based Motivation in Public Commitment

Aug 14, 2017

Tonya Williams Bradford, Sonya A Grier, Geraldine Rosa Henderson

Health & Nutrition
Consumer Well-Being


Individuals increasingly participate in virtual support communities (VSCs) where they conduct numerous aspects of their lives with others whom they may never encounter in person, and they interact within these communities to attain various goals. Research finds that individuals are more likely to achieve success with such goals when they make a public commitment to achieving them. Through our netnographic inquiry, we extend prior theorizing of VSC with an explanation of how public commitment manifests in VSC in support of goal attainment. More specifically, we find these online communities make salient a context relevant social identity which motivates behaviors that facilitate compliance to the public commitment, and hence, more effective goal pursuit. In addition, we create a typology of member roles within these VSC that further influence public commitment. Our findings contribute to theories of VSC and public commitment.

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