Author(s)

Emily GriggFollow

Department

Communication Studies

Degree

Master of Arts (MA)

Chair

Angela Widgeon

Primary Subject Area

Sociology, General; Health Sciences, Public Health; Health Sciences, General; Psychology, General

Keywords

obesity, public health, social cognitive theory, social comparison theory, social influence, weight loss

Disciplines

Communication | Health Communication | Psychology | Public Health | Social Influence and Political Communication | Social Psychology | Sociology

Abstract

This qualitative study investigated the impact of social influence on weight loss, more specifically, the internal and external elements that effect response and success of those who are trying to lose weight. The research focused on three questions: (1) How great of an influence does self-efficacy have in weight loss success? (2) How great of an influence does social comparison have in weight loss success? (3) Which factor has the largest impact on weight loss: self-efficacy, peer efficacy, or positive social support, or negative social support? Data was collected by the researcher conducting semi-structured interviews. These interview were conducted with 22 participants who are actively trying to lose weight by participating in a weight loss group called Taking Off Pounds Sensibly. These participants were all women, with ages varying from 20-64. Four main themes emerged from the interviews: the influence of self-efficacy on one's success in losing weight, the impact of social comparison, the influence of significant other's communication towards a participant's weight loss, and the importance of supportive peer communication for participants to stay on track with weight loss. Results demonstrated the correlation of positive communication from significant others with increased success in participant's weight loss. Findings also revealed that although weight management is an ongoing struggle for some, having a support group leads to a more positive attitude and motivated mindset, which then leads to a more successful outcome.