Not available in 2019/20
PB305      Half Unit
Social Neuroscience of Economic Life

This information is for the 2019/20 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Frederic Basso


This course is available on the BSc in Psychological and Behavioural Science. This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit and to General Course students.

Optional course for BSc in Psychological and Behavioural Science Year 3 and outside option for other second and third year students and General Course students, subject to pre-requisites


Students must have completed PS110.

Students should have taken PS110 (Fundamentals of Psychological Science) OR PS111 (Fundamentals of Behavioural Science)

Course content

The idea of a Social Neuroscience of Economic Life is not obvious. From the point of view of mainstream economics, economic life is under the scope of economics. Economics as a mathematical science is, to some extent, a rejection of social and (neuro-)psychological dimensions of economic life. And as the “queen of social sciences”, mainstream economics was even considered by some authors as the framework (the so-called “economic imperialism”) for studying social and (neuro-)psychological processes out of the economic life. This course introduces an approach that is different and complementary to the rational choice models that depict the economic actor as an information processor whose behaviour can be understood independently of specific contexts. Beyond Homo Economicus, this course considers Homo Sapiens with its rationality, but also with its embodied, emotional, social and cultural dimensions through the lens of neuroscience. Students will be encouraged to integrate the ideas from the course with their wider learning in psychological and behavioural sciences, and to consider the application of those ideas to real world cases and problems in economic life.

The course will include lecture and seminar contents such as:

Week 1: Introduction to Social Neuroscience of Economic Life

The Social Neuroscience of Decision Making

Week 2: From bounded rationality to emotions in decision-making

Week 3: From framing to stories in decision-making

The Social Neuroscience of Economic Interactions

Week 4: From sympathy to mentalizing

Week 5: From the mirror neuron system to embodied cognition

The Social Neuroscience of Consumption

Week 6: The neuroscience of self extension

Week 7: From product marketing to neuroaesthetics

Week 8: The neuroscience of persuasion

Week 9: Sensory marketing and neuromarketing


Week 10: The ethical issues of Social Neuroscience of Economic Life


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

The intensive learning of subject-specific and generic skills during teaching time will be supplemented in three ways by activities in reading week.  These provide opportunities to take a wider perspective on the programme, to integrate its content and to develop personal and career-related skills:

1.  LSELife activities to develop key skills for the course

2. Collective formative feedback and planning sessions for the formative assessments.

3. Sessions on the integration of ideas from this course with ideas from other courses on the programme.

Formative coursework

Students will be expected to produce 1 essay and 1 presentation in the LT.

In order to assess student performance and practice for the summative assessments, students will:

1. Write a 1,000-word essay.

2. Make a presentation prior to the summative presentation.

Indicative reading

Cacioppo, J.T, Visser, P.S., & Pickett, C.L. (2012). Social neuroscience: People thinking about thinking people. A Bradford Book.

Camerer, C., Loewenstein, G., & Prelec, D. (2005). Neuroeconomics: How Neuroscience Can Inform Economics. Journal of Economic Literature, 43(1), 9–64.

Glimcher, P. W., Camerer, C., Poldrack, R. A., & Fehr, E. (2008). Neuroeconomics: Decision making and the brain (1st ed.). Academic Press.

Lieberman, M. D. (2007). Social cognitive neuroscience: A Review of core processes. Annual Review of Psychology, 58(1), 259–289.

Plassmann, H., Venkatraman, V., Huettel, S., & Yoon, C. (2015). Consumer neuroscience: Applications, challenges, and possible solutions. Journal of Marketing Research, 52(4), 427–435.

Students will be expected to read essential readings plus additional reading from the primary literature each class. These readings will be provided in the course outline.


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

Students will be  required  to write a 3,000-word essay (100% weight)

Key facts

Department: Psychological and Behavioural Science

Total students 2018/19: Unavailable

Average class size 2018/19: Unavailable

Capped 2018/19: No

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Self-management
  • Problem solving
  • Application of information skills
  • Communication
  • Commercial awareness
  • Specialist skills