This course provides an introduction to consumer behavior from a psychological perspective. The primary goal of the course is to investigate how consumers make their choices and respond to marketing campaigns and government policies. As we will discover, psychological processes sometimes lead consumers to make choices that appear to be irrational or biased. We will investigate why people are sometimes irrational, and what approaches can be used to improve consumer decision-making.
- To recall and critically evaluate current research in the field of consumer behavior.
- To apply psychological theories to improve marketing campaigns, public policies, and consumer decision-making.
Course lectures are designed to supplement the assigned readings. Lectures will review some of the important aspects of the readings, but additional research will also be discussed. During the lectures, students will have the option to participate in short surveys that will be used to illustrate some of the findings we will cover. Please note that participating in these surveys is optional.
The grading for this course consists of two parts. The final grade will be a weighted average of a final exam (50%) and a group assignment completed during the Workgroups (50%).
The grade of the final exam makes up 50% of the final grade. The exam will consist of both multiple choice and open-ended questions. Exam questions will be in English, and answers must be provided in English. The exam will be graded a mark between 0 and 10. The exam will test your understanding of both the lectures and the articles, and will cover all of the lectures.
There are five workgroup meetings scheduled for the course. During the workgroups, students will complete a group assignment, “Using Psychology to Improve Advertisements”. Students will complete this assignment in groups of 4-5. Students will need to attend the workgroup meetings in order to complete the various stages of this assignment.
In addition to the above assignments, students are required to attend a series of work-groups where they will participate in a series of activities which will be graded pass/fail. Students must attend these work-groups (or complete an alternative, individual writing assignment) in order to pass the course.
We will read empirical journal articles from the top journals in the field of consumer behavior. The reading list includes seminal articles that have significantly influenced the field, and recent papers that reflect current trends and research topics. Consumer Behavior is an interdisciplinary field, and to reflect this we will read research conducted by psychologists and behavioral economists. To get the most out of this class, it is important to stay current with the readings and attend lectures.
Lectures 1-7 will focus on the individual decision-making processes that influence consumer behavior. These lectures will investigate how basic cognitive processes (e.g., attention, learning and memory, self-control, and emotions) shape consumer decision-making. These lectures will answer several overarching questions about the psychology of decision-making: When presented with a choice between different products, how do individuals assess the value of different alternatives? Are consumer preferences stable across time and situations, or do subtle contextual factors influence choices? Do consumers make rational (optimal) decisions, or are there systematic biases in the ways people make decisions?
Lecture 8-14 will emphasize the social processes that affect consumers. For example, these lectures will address how social groups, cultural differences, and recent developments in technology influence the way that consumers make decisions. We will also address the ways in which interactions with consumer brands are similar to (and different from) interactions with human agents. These lectures will incorporate different theoretical approaches, such as cross-cultural psychology, evolutionary psychology, and positive psychology. To conclude, we will discuss research on how our knowledge of consumer behavior can be used to improve public policies and individual well-being.
Type of instructionsLectures and work groups
Type of examsFinal exam, mid-term, research proposal
- Syllabus with relevant articles (will appear on Blackboard)