PS456      Half Unit
Consumer Psychology

This information is for the 2015/16 session.

Teacher responsible

Prof Serge Lahlou QUE.3.26, Dr Benjamin Voyer QUE.3.15, Dr Claudine Provencher KSW.5.04 and Dr Frederic Basso QUE.3.14


This course is available on the MSc in Organisational and Social Psychology, MSc in Social and Cultural Psychology and MSc in Social and Public Communication. This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

Course content

Homo economicus (economic theories of consumption, state of the art); Homo sociologicus (sociology of consumption, state of the art); Homo emptor (traditional marketing-related theories such as attitudes, attitude change, persuasion, dissonance, anchoring, state of the art); Evolutionary psychology of consumers and citizens (competition and cooperation); Community and consumption (social identity theory, fads and fashion, alternative consumption patterns and boycott as resistance); Traditional socio-psychological theories of behavioural change (Lewin on change and action research; Kiesler, Joule and Beauvois on psychology of commitment); New theories of behavioural change and sustainable consumption (Lahlou's installation theory; social representations); Alternative approaches to consumer psychology (community engagement, consumer culture theory); The future of consumption (globalisation, sustainability).


10 hours of lectures and 10 hours of seminars in the LT.

Formative coursework

Essay plan submitted in the LT.

Indicative reading

Handbook of Consumer Psychology (Haugtvedt and Kardes, 2008); Psychology and Consumer Culture: The Struggle for a Good Life in a Materialistic World (Kasser and Kanner, 2004); Human Groups and Social Categories (Tajfel, 1981); The Psychology of Commitment (Kiesler, 1971); Choice: A Critical Guide (Heap et al., 1992); Risk: The Science and Politics of Fear (Gardner, 2009); Behavioural Economics: Seven Principles for Policy Makers (New Economics Foundation, 2005; Social Influence and Social Change (Moscovici, 1976); Resolving Social Conflicts: Selected Papers on Group Dynamics (Lewin, 1948); Distinction: a Social Critique of the Judgment of Taste, (Bourdieu, 1984).


Essay (100%, 3000 words) in the LT.

Teachers' comment

LSE offers two courses addressing consumer behaviour: PS456 Consumer Psychology and MG404 Behavioural Fundamentals for Marketing and Management. PS456 targets the (future) decision-makers and advisers in business and organisations dealing with consumers, including non-commercial.  MG404 is designed for the students' of Management to complement their curriculum.  There are some similarities in the content of  PS456 and MG404. Broadly, both courses introduce the psychological theories to business situations. There are, however, important differences in the orientations of the two courses. PS456 provides a skillset and a toolbox of theories and methods for analyzing consumer demand, finding the levers for change and building sustainable business models. For assessment, students' may chose a real case and write a set of (justified) recommendations to the CEO. PS456 may especially be of interest to students' across a broad range of programmes who are interested in developing new modes of relationship with consumers or building sustainable business models as an alternative to the current consumer society. MG404 is intended for students studying management and related disciplines, who want to learn how to influence consumer behaviour (eg. how to construct persuasive advertising or sway purchase decisions. MG404 introduces the principles of consumer behaviour that firms need to recognise for successfully marketing their products and services, and which consumers themselves can use to make optimal decisions. The courses share some content where appropriate; other content differs in accordance with the different goals of the two courses.

Key facts

Department: Social Psychology

Total students 2014/15: 51

Average class size 2014/15: 17

Controlled access 2014/15: Yes

Lecture capture used 2014/15: Yes (LT)

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information