Of "likes" And "pins": Measuring Consumers' Emotional Attachment To Social Media
Vanmeter, Rebecca A.
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Researchers have demonstrated the useful applicability of psychological attachment theory to a variety of marketing contexts, exploring how individual become attached to special possessions, places, brands, and services. Emotional attachment to these varied focal targets has been reliably and validly shown to influence important marketing related behaviors. This dissertation examines social media as a new target of emotional attachment, which is then linked to marketing related social media behaviors. To date research has not developed or tested conceptualization or operationalization of this construct. This dissertation undertakes two specific lines of research activities across multiple studies. After providing a foundational definition of emotional attachment to social media, seven studies are conducted to develop a measure that meets desired reliability and validity standards. The validated measure is then tested to assess its empirical usefulness in predicting social media behaviors in three different life domains; social, consumer, and work. Results indicate that the emotional attachment to social media (EASM) construct is related to proximity maintenance, safe haven, emotional security, and separation distress, four specific psychological behaviors historically indicative of attachment. The EASM scale presented here also helps to explain phenomena such as the amount of time spent on social media platforms and social media activities in social, work, and consumer domains.