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Module PRP-4009:
Applied Consumer Psych

Module Facts

Run by School of Psychology

20 Credits or 10 ECTS Credits

Semester 2

Organiser: Dr Gareth Harvey

Overall aims and purpose

Everyone is always consuming – food, information, ideas, experiences. Much of the time businesses are also trying to get others to “consume” (our ideas, some information, products etc.). However, despite businesses constantly promoting consumption, they often don’t understand the factors that lead us to consume products in some situations not others - this is where consumer psychologists come in.

This module will introduce students to the skills needed to be a professional consumer psychologist, working in the commercial sector. However, rather than just studying the theory, students will act as a consultant, helping a business tackle a genuine business problem relating to consumer psychology, under the supervision of a practicing consumer psychologist.

In addition to working on their own consumer psychology research project, the students also get the opportunity to work as a consultant on all the other student projects. This “meta consulting” approach ensures that at the end of their training our graduates have worked on a very wide range of projects and have experience with many techniques and psychological theories/approaches within the consumer domain.

Course content

A broad range of examples, case-studies, guest lectures, in-class challenges, and other activities to help students gain knowledge about and skill in using consumer psychology to address real-world challenges.

Assessment Criteria


A- to A+

Students will have an extensive understanding of all areas or consumer psychology, demonstrating extensive reading beyond the lecture material, synthesizing information from a range of different sources. Students will be able to critically analyse research based on its academic merit and discuss the relevance of this research in an applied context.

Answers will be well structured with a compelling and coherent argument throughout.


C- to C+

Students will have a superficial understanding of consumer psychology, although this is likely to be largely based on the lecture material. No credible evidence of synthesising information from a range of different sources and students are likely to struggle to apply academic models and frameworks to an organisational context

Answers will have a basic structure although the students argument is likely to contain a number of flaws in logic.


B- to B+

Students will have a good understanding of most areas or consumer psychology, demonstrating some reading beyond the lecture material. Students will attempt to synthesise information from a range of different sources, although key details may be missed.

Students will attempt to analyse academic research, and apply the research in an applied context although the analysis is likely to lack critical insight.

Answers will have a clear structure with a reasonably coherent argument throughout.

Learning outcomes

  1. Critically analyse a range of different research techniques used to acquire consumer research data

  2. Analyse consumer research data using a range of different analytical techniques.

  3. Demonstrate an ability to present practical research findings in both oral and written formats appropriate to business contexts.

  4. Analyse consumer problems faced by consumer organisations in a systematic and scientific way.

  5. Identify relevant consumer challenges facing an organisation using a range of qualitative and quantitive data collection methods.

  6. Demonstrate a knowledge of how to frame a practical and feasible consumer research project and know how to write a formalised proposal for it.

  7. Understand a range of marketing/consumer challenges faced by commercial organisations

Assessment Methods

Type Name Description Weight
WRITTEN PLAN Project Proposal

Working with the lecturer, TA’s, and your fellow students, you will choose one company and approach the research brief specified by the client. In a small group (max four students) you will tackle the brief outlined by the client by defining a big/overarching question/goal (e.g. “Understand the Psychology of Visitors to Meadow Hall”). However, each team member needs to determine a specific research question that they will address. You should address your questions via at least two different approaches (e.g. interviews and then questionnaires, observations and then interviews and then an online survey, shadowing in a shop and then focus groups, etc.).

Your project is not a standard market-research project! It must be a psychological investigation of relevant issues, themes, etc. You should not be thinking about things like product, price, promotion, etc. Instead, think about such topics as motivation, memory, self-construal theory, implicit desires, etc. These are the topics you must address and around which you should frame your research, proposal, reports, etc. You will come up with the overall approach and then propose the project via the “proposal” assignment. This is meant to be like a real marketing-firm’s research bid. It must be brief, punchy, graphical, and make a real case for the project. Each student is expected to produce an individual proposal, which is 1500 words in length.


Assignment two is an individual commercial research report, that summarises the intervention and its effectiveness to the client. It is 2500 words in length. You will synthesise the data and prepare a report of your entire project. The final presentation/report should include: A clear statement of the problem (applied issues) A clear statement of the relevant psychological theories A methods section (describing how you have addressed the problem) A results section A discussion section – including implications on real-world issues, theory, limitations, ethical issues, “future studies”, etc. However, please remember that this is a commercial research report and NOT a mini dissertation. Consequently, you will need to think about the aesthetics and tone of voice of your report. It should not be APA formatted, but a professional looking report that a client would expect to read. Although you are expected to conduct a full and rigorous statistical analysis, this will not be presented in the main body of the final report (think about how you will use your appendices). You’ll need to think what is the most important information the client will need to know and ensure that they can understand it.


As well as producing a written report you are expected to deliver a short presentation for the client, summarising the key points from your research. This is a group presentation, as you are all working on one overarching brief set by the client, however you will be marked as an individual. Each group member's section should identify the key academic framework used to guide the research, a brief methods and results section, and finally finish off by discussing the implications for the client.

The duration of the presentation is 5 minutes + (5 minutes * number of group members). So a group of two would have 15 minutes, a group of three would have 20 minutes etc. This allows each group 2.5 minutes to introduce the project, then each student has 5 minutes to present their section, and finally the group then has 2.5 minutes to conclude.


Teaching and Learning Strategy


Weekly two-hour lectures will take place in weeks 1-5 and 7-10, and a revision lecture will be delivered in week 11. Lectures will cover core content and will be delivered in a traditional style. The revision lecture will re-examine key topics, and in addition to helping students prepare for the final exam.


During the workshops students will be given the opportunity to work on their project under the supervision of the teaching team.

Private study

Students should expect to complete 134 hours of self-study in order to achieve the learning outcomes for this module. Self-study will take the form of essential and additional reading, conducting an independent research project, and preparing the final report and oral presentation. Students can expect that some of these hours may be allocated to meeting with their partner company, and that this may vary from client to client.


Transferable skills

  • Literacy - Proficiency in reading and writing through a variety of media
  • Numeracy - Proficiency in using numbers at appropriate levels of accuracy
  • Computer Literacy - Proficiency in using a varied range of computer software
  • Self-Management - Able to work unsupervised in an efficient, punctual and structured manner. To examine the outcomes of tasks and events, and judge levels of quality and importance
  • Exploring - Able to investigate, research and consider alternatives
  • Information retrieval - Able to access different and multiple sources of information
  • Inter-personal - Able to question, actively listen, examine given answers and interact sensitevely with others
  • Critical analysis & Problem Solving - Able to deconstruct and analyse problems or complex situations. To find solutions to problems through analyses and exploration of all possibilities using appropriate methods, rescources and creativity.
  • Safety-Consciousness - Having an awareness of your immediate environment, and confidence in adhering to health and safety regulations
  • Presentation - Able to clearly present information and explanations to an audience. Through the written or oral mode of communication accurately and concisely.
  • Teamwork - Able to constructively cooperate with others on a common task, and/or be part of a day-to-day working team
  • Management - Able to utilise, coordinate and control resources (human, physical and/or financial)
  • Argument - Able to put forward, debate and justify an opinion or a course of action, with an individual or in a wider group setting
  • Self-awareness & Reflectivity - Having an awareness of your own strengths, weaknesses, aims and objectives. Able to regularly review, evaluate and reflect upon the performance of yourself and others
  • Leadership - Able to lead and manage, develop action plans and objectives, offer guidance and direction to others, and cope with the related pressures such authority can result in

Subject specific skills

  • Understand the scientific underpinnings of psychology as a discipline.
  • Communicate psychological concepts effectively in written form.
  • Communicate psychological concepts effectively in oral form.
  • Be computer literate for the purpose of processing and disseminating psychological data and information.
  • Retrieve and organise information effectively.
  • Handle primary source material critically.
  • Engage in effective teamwork for the purpose of collaborating on psychological projects.
  • Be sensitive and react appropriately to contextual and interpersonal psychological factors.
  • Use effectively personal planning and project management skills.
  • Work effectively under pressure (time pressure, limited resources, etc) as independent and pragmatic learners.
  • Problem-solve by clarifying questions, considering alternative solutions, making critical judgements, and evaluating outcomes.
  • Reason scientifically and demonstrate the relationship between theory and evidence.
  • Carry out empirical studies by operationalizing research questions, generating hypotheses, collecting data using a variety of methods, analysing data using quantitative and/or qualitative methods, and present and evaluate research findings (under appropriate supervision).
  • Comprehend and use psychological data effectively, demonstrating a systematic knowledge of the application and limitations of various research paradigms and techniques.
  • Use a range of statistical methods with confidence.
  • Employ evidence-based reasoning and examine practical, theoretical and ethical issues associated with the use of different methodologies, paradigms and methods of analysis in psychology.
  • Use a variety of psychological tools, including specialist software, laboratory equipment and psychometric instruments.
  • Be aware of ethical principles and approval procedures.


Reading list

  • Barden, P. (2013). Decoded: the science behind why we buy. London, U.K.: John Wiley & Sons.
  • Kardes, F., Cronley, M., & Cline, T. (2014). Consumer behavior. New York, N.Y.: Cengage Learning.
  • Kasperczyk, R. T., & Francis, R. D. (2001). Private practice psychology: A handbook. Leicester, U.K.: BPS.
  • Pallant, J. (2013). SPSS survival manual: Version 5 . New York, N.Y.: McGraw-Hill Education.
  • Smith, J. A. (Ed.). (2015). Qualitative psychology: A practical guide to research methods. London, U.K.: Sage.

Courses including this module