MG4J7      Half Unit
Advanced Consumer Behaviour

This information is for the 2022/23 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Nicolette Sullivan MAR 6.22


This course is available on the Global MSc in Management, Global MSc in Management (CEMS MIM), Global MSc in Management (MBA Exchange), MSc in Management (1 Year Programme) and MSc in Marketing. This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

Course content

Our understanding of how consumers make evaluations and decisions has been greatly advanced by the many new theoretical and technological developments in the study of consumer behaviour in the last decade. This course covers the insights gained from this new field often referred to as Consumer Neuroscience or Neuroeconomics, which sits at the intersections of consumer behaviour, psychology, behavioural economics, and neuroscience. We will cover the key findings of this highly productive new field and will introduce the neuroscience and cutting-edge techniques behind these developments including eye tracking, skin conductance, and mouse tracking, and neuroscience methods like fMRI and EEG.

Topics covered include how knowledge and measurement of the visual system inform ad design, how the brain represents the preferences and values that guide decisions and how this leads to biases, how the limbic system helps to encode emotions and how its measurement can predict marketing outcomes, and functional localization of brand preferences and marketing actions and their link to learning and memory systems. The influence of neural changes across the consumer lifespan, from adolescence through to older age, on marketing and management practices will be covered. We will discuss the use of insights gained from this research to nudge human behaviour, and future directions and ethical ramifications will be examined. Finally, the brain’s ability to predict not only the individual’s future choice but also aggregate market-level behaviours will be discussed.

Students will receive practical hands-on experience with one of these advanced techniques. By the end of the course, students will also be able to sort junk science from good science, making them informed consumers of research in this cutting-edge field. This is a good option for students who enjoyed Consumer Behaviour: Behavioural Fundamentals I (MG404) and would like to extend their knowledge on that topic.


This course will have one three-hour Harvard-style session per week for the duration of Lent Term. There is a Reading Week during Week 6 in line with departmental policy.

Formative coursework

Prior to the summative quizzes, participants will be given a formative quiz. Formative work will also be submitted in relation to the students’ group projects (Project Outlines, Elevator pitches).

Indicative reading

  1. Ding, Y. et al. The past, present, and future of measurement and methods in marketing analysis (2020). Marketing Letters. 31, 175–186
  2. Galvan, A. Adolescent development of the reward system. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, (2010)
  3. Glimcher, P. Introduction to Neuroscience. Chapter 5, Neuroeconomics: Decision Making and the Brain, 2nd edition. Glimcher and Fehr, Eds. Academic Press.
  4. Johnson, E. et al. Beyond Nudges: Tools of a Choice Architecture. Marketing Letters (2012) 23: 487–504
  5. Kable, J. The Cognitive Neuroscience Toolkit for the Neuroeconomist: A Functional Overview. (2011) Journal of Neuroscience, Psychology, and Economics
  6. Plassmann, H. and Weber, E. Individual Differences in Marketing Placebo Effects: Evidence from Brain Imaging and Behavioral Experiments. Journal of Marketing Research, 52(4):493-510, 2015
  7. Ramsøy, T. Learning & Memory. Chapter 7 of Introduction to Neuromarketing & Consumer Neuroscience. Neurons Inc.
  8. Samanez-Larkin, G. & Knutson, B. Decision Making in the Ageing Brain: Changes in Affective and Motivational Circuits. Nature Reviews Neuroscience. 2015
  9. Schulte-Mecklenbeck, M., Johnson, J. G., Böckenholt, U., Goldstein, D. G., Russo, J. E., Sullivan, N. J., & Willemsen, M. C. (2017). Process-tracing methods in decision making: On growing up in the 70s. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 26, 442–450.
  10. Shimojo, S. et al. (2003), Gaze bias both reflects and influences preferences. Nature Neuroscience.


Quiz (30%), group project (50%) and class participation (20%) in the LT.

Two quizzes (30%), weighted equally, will test students’ comprehension, retention, and application of course material. Emphasis will be placed on a student’s ability to apply of course material to new contexts. Quizzes will take approximately 20 minutes and will be taken through Moodle. Timing: although only two quizzes will be used for the students’ marks, there will be four quizzes in total. One will be formative, and of the three summative quizzes only the two best quizzes will be used for the student’s mark. Note that the two best quizzes used in the final mark with both be weighted equally (15% each of the final mark).

Group projects (50%) will answer a marketing problem that can be addressed using a cutting edge consumer behaviour technique (eye tracking, mouse tracking, or implicit associations). Groups will work together to 1) present an analytical synthesis of the previous work on their problem using both course theories and external materials, 2) design and run a small pilot study to answer this problem, 3) perform a basic analysis of their data to answer this question, and 4) provide concrete and actionable recommendations to address the problem. Students will receive a group mark for the presentations, which assesses ability to apply course concepts, teamwork (demonstrated by coherence and equality of participation), preparation and presentation, clarity of analysis, and sensibility of recommendations. Timing: The final project output will be due in the final week of the course.

Engagement (20%) will be assessed to measure students’ participation in the course. This will be done in three ways. First, through attendance. Second, though an assessment of the student’s contributions to the discussion board. Posts and responses will be assessed for their depth of analysis, clarity, and accuracy. Although a greater number of high-quality posts will receive higher marks, quality will be counted higher than quantity. Third, though a peer evaluation of participants’ engagement and performance in their team projects, as measured by a mean of other team members’ evaluations of them at the end of the course projects. Timing: This will be assessed throughout the term.

Key facts

Department: Management

Total students 2021/22: 56

Average class size 2021/22: 54

Controlled access 2021/22: Yes

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

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.

Personal development skills

  • Leadership
  • Self-management
  • Team working
  • Problem solving
  • Application of information skills
  • Communication
  • Application of numeracy skills