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Module PCP-3005:
Consumer & Applied Psychology

Module Facts

Run by School of Psychology

20 Credits or 10 ECTS Credits

Semester 2

Organiser: Dr Gareth Harvey

Overall aims and purpose

Why did the Cadbury drum-playing gorilla ad work so well? (and what has it got to do with the psychology of priming?) Why do big brands like to have famous spokespeople? (and what has this got to do with social psychology?) Why are “SALE” signs red? (and what has this got to do with perception/attention?). Why are facebook ads so effective? (and what has this got to do with personality psychology?). This module focuses on consumer psychology, or "Why We Buy." Students will explore the dynamics of advertising and consumer decision-making, critically examining in-store displays, static and video signs, and television adverts. Class and group discussions explore issues like: How do ads work? What psychological processes are in play? What makes effective ads so compelling? And, how can a psychology degree be applied in the business world? Students will learn a range of scientific and real-world skills (such as research techniques, problem formulation, branding, innovation, design-thinking, profiling, experimental design, problem solving, qualitative research, etc). A great deal of time will be spent on consumer psychology (marketing and business). In addition, some other areas of applied psychology may also be discussed (e.g., organizational psychology and personality psychology). And, as a bonus, you will get to watch lots of TV adverts! Come along for the ads, and stay for the psychology.

Course content

Content covered will include broad domains of psychological theory and their application to consumer realms. This will include topics such as: decision-making, demographics/psychographics, motivation, knowledge, attitudes, vision/attention, group influences, shaping opinions, and memory.

Assessment Criteria


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.


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 to a marketing context although the analysis is likely to lack critical insight. Answers will have a clear structure with a reasonably coherent argument throughout.


Students will have an extensive understanding of all areas of consumer psychology, demonstrating extensive reading beyond the lecture material, synthesising 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 a marketing contexts. Answers will be well structured with a compelling and coherent argument will present throughout.

Learning outcomes

  1. Understand a broad range of marketing/consumer challenges faced by organisations.

  2. Propose research strategies to a range of marketing problems faced by individuals and organisations.

  3. Demonstrate knowledge of the psychological theories relevant to consumer behaviour.

  4. Compare, contrast, and critically appraise market research techniques with reference to research literature and real-world problems.

  5. Describe and critically appraise contemporary examples of advertising programmes.

  6. Demonstrate ability to design, synthesise, revise, and present relevant findings in an appropriate and clear format.

  7. Be able to work under pressure (time and other) in exam-like conditions to solve a range of questions (as one might encounter in real-world settings).

Assessment Methods

Type Name Description Weight
In-Class Quiz 1 2
In-Class Quiz 2 2
Experimental Paricipation 5
Discussion Session Activities 16
Product/Service Marketing Material 20
Mid Term Exam 25
Final Exam 30

Teaching and Learning Strategy

Lecture 33
Workshop 33
Private study 134

Transferable skills

  • Literacy - Proficiency in reading and writing through a variety of media
  • 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.
  • 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
  • Mentoring - Able to support, help, guide, inspire and/or coach others
  • 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.
  • Apply multiple perspectives to psychological issues and integrate ideas and findings across the multiple perspectives in psychology.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Understand and investigate the role of brain function in all human behaviour and experience.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Be aware of ethical principles and approval procedures.


Reading list

Core Reading

  • Blackwell, R.D., Miniard, P.W., & Engel, J.F (2006). Consumer Behavior, 10th edition. International Student Edition. Mason, Ohio: Thomson Higher Education. ISBN: 0324271972

Recommend Reading

  • Jansson-Boyd C. (2010). Consumer Psychology. London, U.K., Open University Press.
  • Kardes, F., Cronley, M., & Cline, T. (2014). Consumer behavior: Science and practice. Andover, U.K., Cengage Learning.
  • Solomon, M., Bamossy G., Askegaard S., & Hogg K. (2016). Consumer Behaviour: A European Perspective. Pearson, London, U.K.
  • Strunk W., & White E. (1999), The Elements of Style. Pearson, London, U.K.

Courses including this module

Compulsory in courses:

Optional in courses: