Factors Influencing Responses to Health Behavior Change Posts on Social Media

Open Access
Reno, Corbin Franklin
Area of Honors:
Information Sciences and Technology
Bachelor of Science
Document Type:
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Erika S Poole, Thesis Supervisor
  • Irene Johnston Petrick, Honors Advisor
  • social media
  • social support
  • Facebook
  • theory of planned behavior
  • social networks
  • audience response
  • health behavior change
Social media has the potential to provide a variety of benefits to its users. Some studies have even been conducted to assess the role of social networking sites in health behavior change. However, nearly all of these studies study user engagement within private, moderated health-related sub-communities on social networking sites, in which members have similar goals and interests related to health behavior change. A limited amount of work examines the whether and how an individual can leverage his or her broader online social network to receive social support for health behavior change. However, little is known about moderators and mediators that influence whether and how people in one’s social network will respond to a request for support. This study seeks to examine these gaps through a fractional factorial survey experiment conducted with social media users. We found that post appropriateness, relationship to poster, type of behavior change, opinion of behavior change, and personal experience with the behavior change all contributed to the response a post received. Age group, use of other social media sites, and exposure to the behavior change did not have a significant effect on response.