PB431      Half Unit
Social Psychology of Economic Life: Advanced Topics

This information is for the 2021/22 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Frederic Basso


This course is available on the MRes/PhD in Management (Organisational Behaviour), 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.

Course content

The idea of a social psychology of economic life is not obvious. From the point of view of mainstream economics, economic life – usually understood as the production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services – is under the scope of economics. As a mathematical science, economics is, to some extent, a rejection of social and psychological dimensions in the analysis of economic life. 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 psychological processes out of the economic life. Yet, some of the most important advances over the last four decades in the understanding of human economic behaviour (and its link to some of the most pressing societal issues nowadays) are derived from concepts and methods of psychology and other social sciences. The course presents how social psychology (broadly interpreted to include micro-sociology, cultural anthropology and social neuroscience) is the key to understanding real-world economic life by taking into account cognitive, affective and social processes, and also to contributing to better solutions to societal problems.

Main concepts: cognitive dissonance, analytic/experiential systems in decision-making, metaphors and decision-making, narratives and decision-making, self/extended self in consumption, dramaturgy/staging, social roles, face-to-face interactions, emotional labour/dissonance, gift economy, sharing economy, social group (inclusion/exclusion), stigma, social norms, nudging, disenchantment of the economic world, post-modern hyper-realities, experience economy, resistance to persuasion (inertia, scepticism, reactance), resistance to consumption (avoidance, minimisation, boycott/active rebellion).


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

Formative coursework

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

Indicative reading

Reading lists will be provided for each topic, the following are of general use;

S E G Lea, R M Tarpy & P Webley, The Individual in the Economy, Cambridge University Press, 1987

A Lewis, P Webley & A Furnham, The New Economic Mind: The Social Psychology of Economic Behaviour, Harvester, 1995.


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

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: 40

Average class size 2020/21: 13

Controlled access 2020/21: Yes

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Team working
  • Problem solving
  • Commercial awareness
  • Specialist skills