From Close to Distant: The Dynamics of Interpersonal Relationships in Shared Goal Pursuit

From Close to Distant: The Dynamics of Interpersonal Relationships in Shared Goal Pursuit

By
Szu-chi Huang, Susan M. Broniarczyk, Ying Zhang, Mariam Beruchashvili
Journal of Consumer Research . February
2015, Vol. 41, Issue 5, Pages 1252-1266

This research examines how individuals’ relationship with others sharing the pursuit of the same individual goal may change from the early to later stages of the pursuit. In one qualitative field study, one lab study, and a 7-day field experiment, consumers demonstrated a tendency to view others in shared pursuit as “friends” to seek support from and alleviate uncertainties during the early stage of the pursuit; however, once they reached the advanced stage and felt more certain about how to approach and complete the goal, this closeness significantly reduced. This shift in the relationship further influenced consumers’ interaction with others, such as the sharing of helpful tips and information. The findings provide insights on the autonomous information-sharing behaviors of consumers in shared goal pursuit and the key drivers behind the effectiveness of shared-pursuit programs (e.g., Weight Watchers, AA).