PB307      Half Unit
Consumer Psychology for Sustainability

This information is for the 2021/22 session.

Teacher responsible

Prof Bradley Franks CON.3.07 and Dr Liora Moskovitz CON.3.20

This course is convened by Prof. Bradley Franks who has oversight of the classes and assessment. Lectures will be delivered by Dr. Liora Moskovitz and Prof. Saadi Lahlou. Classes with be led by a Graduate Teaching Assistant with expertise in this area. 


This course is available on the BSc in Psychological and Behavioural Science. This course is not available as an outside option nor to General Course students.

Course content

The aims of the course are to:

  1. To present the social psychology of consumption at different levels of analysis: individual, group and societal level..
  2. To relate 1 to psychology and behavioural science.
  3. To use 1 and 2 to explain phenomena classically described in marketing and consumer science.
  4. To explore and present innovative research methods, theories and business models relating to sustainability and consumption.

The course will address the psychology of consumption at different levels of analysis: individual, group and societal. It will ground this psychology in the relevant literature, and teach you the field’s foundational theories, allowing you 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 about brand territories and market shares, but about how understanding various psychological processes in conjunction with these forces can provide us with tools to improve the world. How can we leverage consumer psychology to solve our sustainability problem?


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

Lectures will be delivered jointly with PB417, an MSc level course in the department. Classes will be specific for BSc students.

In response to the current situation, it likely that lectures will be delivered online, either live or via pre-recorded short videos. Classes are likely to take place in person on campus. You will receive the same amount of teaching whether you are on campus or online.

There is a reading week in Week 6 of Lent term.

Formative coursework

Students will be expected to produce 1 other piece of coursework and 1 other piece of coursework in the LT.

For each major and minor assessment option there is an equivalent piece of formative coursework. These are designed to help students to prepare for the summative assessments. 

Formative coursework to support minor assessment

  • Draft script for 10 minute presentation
  • Draft script for 10 minute podcast
  • Proposal for poster
  • Proposal for visual media

Formative coursework to support major assessment

  • Draft proposal for policy case study (500 words)
  • Outline of essay (500 words)
  • Draft parliamentary POSTnote (250 words) and annotated biblography (200 words)
  • Draft blog post (250 words) and Draft OpEd (250 words)

Indicative reading

  • Baca-Motes, K., Brown, A., Gneezy, A., Keenan, E. A., & Nelson, L. D. (2012). Commitment and behavior change: Evidence from the field. Journal of Consumer Research, 39(5), 1070-1084.
  • Belk, R.W. (1988). Possessions and the Extended Self. Journal of Consumer Research, 15(2), 139-168.
  • Belk, R. (2010). Sharing. Journal of Consumer Research, 36(5), 715–734.
  • Bendapudi, N.& Leone, R.P. (2003). Psychological Implications of Customer Participation in Co-Production. Journal of Marketing, 67(1), 14-28.
  • Cialdini, R.B., & Goldstein, N.J. (2004). Social influence: Compliance and conformity. Annual Review of Psychology, 55, 591-622.
  • Griskevicius, V. & Kenrick, D.T. (2013). Fundamental motives: How evolutionary needs influence consumer behaviour. Journal of Consumer Psychology, 23(3), 372-386.
  • Jensen schau, H., & Gilly, M. (2003). We Are What We Post? Self-Presentation in Personal Web Space. Journal of Consumer Research, 30(3), 385-404.
  • Luchs, M. G., Naylor, R. W., Irwin, J. R., & Raghunathan, R. (2010). The sustainability liability: Potential negative effects of ethicality on product preference. Journal of Marketing, 74(5), 18-31.
  • Muniz, A. M., & O’Guinn, T. C. (2001). Brand community. Journal of Consumer Research, 27(4), 412–432.
  • Richins, M. L., & Chaplin, L. N. (2015). Material parenting: How the use of goods in parenting fosters materialism in the next generation. Journal of Consumer Research, 41(6), 1333- 1357.
  • Rysman, M. (2009). The Economics of Two-Sided Markets. Journal of Economic Perspectives, 23(3), 125-143.
  • 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.


Assignment (30%) in the LT.
Assignment (70%) in the ST.

Students will choose ONE minor and ONE major assessment from the lists below:

Minor Assessment (30%, due at the end of Lent Term)

  • 10 minute recorded presentation
  • 10 minute podcast
  • A1 poster
  • A5 visual media

Major Assessment (70%, due at the start of Summer Term)

  • 3000 word Policy Case Study comprised of Executive Summary (250 words) and Proposal (2500 words)
  • 3000 word Essay
  • 1500 word parliamentary POSTnote with 1000 word annotated bibliography
  • 1500 word blog post AND 1500 word OpEd

Students will need to confirm their choice of assessment by the end of LT4.

Course selection videos

Some departments have produced short videos to introduce their courses. Please refer to the course selection videos index page for further information.

Important information in response to COVID-19

Please note that during 2021/22 academic year some variation to teaching and learning activities may be required to respond to changes in public health advice and/or to account for the differing needs of students in attendance on campus and those who might be studying online. For example, this may involve changes to the mode of teaching delivery and/or the format or weighting of assessments. Changes will only be made if required and students will be notified about any changes to teaching or assessment plans at the earliest opportunity.

Key facts

Department: Psychological and Behavioural Science

Total students 2020/21: Unavailable

Average class size 2020/21: Unavailable

Capped 2020/21: 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