Why future friends matter: impact of expectancy of relational growth on online gamer loyalty

Gen Yih Liao, Tzu Ling Huang, T. C.E. Cheng, Ching I. Teng

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: Relational cohesion theory posits that relational cohesion helps build relationships among communication partners, implying that users would expect a growth in relations or making more friends in the future. However, little is known about expectancy of a better future state of relations, i.e. expectancy of relational growth, and its impact on users' continued engagement in online communication. Our study extends relational cohesion theory to explain how expectancy of relational growth impacts online gamer loyalty. Design/methodology/approach: We test the framework using structural equation modeling to analyze a large sample of 1,429 responses from online gamers. Findings: We find that expectancy of relational growth is positively related to norm compliance and relational cohesion, which are further related to network convergence and interdependence, fostering online gamer loyalty. Originality/value: The findings contribute to relational cohesion theory by identifying novel sources of relational cohesion, i.e. expectancy of relational growth and norm compliance. Hence, game providers should create gamers' expectancy of growth in online relationships. Such expectancy could motivate continued gaming communication, even when gamers are not satisfied with the current state of online relationships. Moreover, we propose the new concept of expectancy of relational growth, which should have a strong impact on online communication in various areas.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1479-1501
Number of pages23
JournalInternet Research
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 20 Jun 2020


  • Customer loyalty
  • E-commerce
  • Relationship
  • Survey
  • Video game

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Economics and Econometrics

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