This study will be beneficial to the groups associated with weight-loss or anti-addiction."When consumers start working toward a goal, they often feel uncertain about how to achieve the goal and see others at a similar stage as friends.

They pass on helpful tips and cheer each other on. But once the goal is in sight, consumers feel more certain and believe they don't need support from others, so they become distant and keep useful information to themselves," said the authors of the study.

The study has been carried out by Szu-chi Huang from Stanford University, Susan M. Broniarczyk of University of Texas at Austin, Ying Zhang from Peking University, and Mariam Beruchashvili of California State University, Northridge.

Researchers analysed the group meetings and interviews with members of Weight Watchers, a US-based company that offers various products and services to assist weight loss. To begin with the members felt close to and willing to help other members compared with fewer than half in the advanced stage (42 percent).But in an advanced stage of weight loss, a vast majority were reluctant to share information with other members (79 percent), compared with less than half in the early stage (44 percent).

"As consumers move from the early stages of pursuing a goal to a more advanced stage, they change from being friendly to decidedly distant and the more consumers distance themselves from others with similar goals, the more likely they are to feel disengaged and even give up on their goals entirely," the authors concluded.

The study appeared in the Journal of Consumer Research.

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