PB417      Half Unit
Consumer Psychology

This information is for the 2019/20 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Liora Moskovitz


This course is available on the MSc in Behavioural Science, MSc in Organisational and Social Psychology, MSc in Psychology of Economic Life, 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.

This course is capped.

Course content

The objectives of the course are: 1) to provide students with an understanding of the social psychological and cognitive processes behind the consumption of goods and services; 2) to explore alternative modes of relationship with users/consumers than the current ones which are based mostly on market and competition; and 3) to prepare students to build better business models (e.g. social entrepreneurship, more sustainable, and so on) for the provision of goods and services.

The course will address the psychology of consumption at different levels of analysis: individual, group and societal.  It will try to ground this psychology in fundamental theories that will allow students to develop a mental model of human behaviour as it relates to consumption.

This is not a standard marketing or consumer research course. It is not just about brand territories and market shares, but about how understanding various psychological processes in conjunction with these other forces can provide us with tools to improve the world.


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

Formative coursework

Essay plan submitted in the LT.

Indicative reading

  • Griskevicius, V. & Kenrick, D.T. (2013). Fundamental motives: How evolutionary needs influence consumer behaviour. Journal of Consumer Psychology, 23 (3), 372-386.
  • Cialdini, R.B. (2001). Influence: Science and Practice (4th Edt.). New York: Harper Collins.
  • Belk, R.W. (1988). Possessions and the Extended Self. Journal of Consumer Research, 15(2), 139-168.
  • Akerlof, G. A., & Shiller, R. J. (2010). Animal spirits: How human psychology drives the economy, and why it matters for global capitalism. Princeton University Press.
  • Bendapudi, N.& Leone, R.P. (2003). Psychological Implications of Customer Participation in Co-Production. Journal of Marketing, 67 (January), 14-28.
  • Frank, R. H. (2012). The Darwin economy: Liberty, competition, and the common good. Princeton University Press.
  • Rysman, M. (2009). The Economics of Two-Sided Markets. Journal of Economic Perspectives, 23(3), 125-143.
  • Sobel, J. (2005). Interdependent Preferences and Reciprocity. Journal of Economic Literature, 43(2), 392–436.
  • Waring, T. M., Goff, S. H., & Smaldino, P. E. (2017). The coevolution of economic institutions and sustainable consumption via cultural group selection. Ecological Economics, 131, 524–532.

Additional readings will be recommended throughout the course.


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

The assignment is understood as part of the learning, to provide the transferable skills of analysing a real case and marking sound recommendations to make the world a better place.  In the first part, 'memorandum' (1,000 words), you will be asked to prepare a memorandum or open letter to the head of an organisation of your choice, with recommendations that improve the organisation in a way that makes the world a better place. The recommendations must be realistic, including making being achievable and making business sense. In the second part of the essay, 'justification' (2,000 words), you will justify the specific recommendations presented in the memorandum with reference to the theoretical and empirical literature and concepts. You can read examples of previous years assignments at http://www.lse.ac.uk/DPBS/videos/PS456.aspx. We encourage the best essays to be published as open letters.

Key facts

Department: Psychological and Behavioural Science

Total students 2018/19: 32

Average class size 2018/19: 16

Controlled access 2018/19: No

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

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