PB307      Half Unit
Consumer Psychology for Sustainability

This information is for the 2022/23 session.

Teacher responsible

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


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 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?

By the end of this course you should:

  • Be able to present the social psychology of consumption at different levels of analysis: individual, group and societal level.
  • Be able to relate this to core psychology and behavioural science.
  • Be able to use the above to explain phenomena classically described in marketing and consumer science.
  • Have explored innovative research methods, theories and business models relating to sustainability and consumption.


This course is delivered through a combination of lectures and classes totalling a minimum of 30 hours across Lent Term. There is a reading week in Week 6 of Lent term.

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

Formative coursework

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

Formative coursework to support major assessment

  • Draft proposal for policy case study
  • Outline of essay
  • Draft parliamentary POSTnote and annotated biblography
  • Draft blog post and Draft Op-ed

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.
  • Lahlou, S. (2017). Installation theory: the societal construction and regulation of behaviour. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • 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 Op-ed

Key facts

Department: Psychological and Behavioural Science

Total students 2021/22: 9

Average class size 2021/22: 9

Capped 2021/22: No

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
  • Problem solving
  • Application of information skills
  • Communication
  • Application of numeracy skills
  • Commercial awareness