Psychological Aspects of Consumption

Module description


Consumer research relies on theories of psychological mediation and evidence drawn from psychological research in order to provide an adequate account of consumption in its broadest sense. Students deserve to be informed about recent advances in such theories and to be able to critically assess the evidence. This module will introduce students to selected areas of consumer research where an understanding of the underlying psychological processes is essential.
This module will also address the following issues:

Additional Information:

It is vital to encourage sustainable consumption in the 21st century and psychology has an important role to play in for example ‘nudging’ consumers to consume responsibly

There is an extensive and reputable literature on cross-cultural psychology which students would have access to and, given their international background, they would also be able to provide consumer insights.

Ethics and Corporate Responsibility and Research in Teaching
Having the person, the individual consumer, as the object of focus in this course will enable students to consider the consequences of consumption and how they work with individual consumers

Full module specification

Module title:Psychological Aspects of Consumption
Module code:BEM3040
Module level:3
Academic year:2016/7
Module lecturers:
  • Brian Young - Convenor
Module credit:15
ECTS value:






Duration of module: Duration (weeks) - term 1:


Module aims

The primary aim of this module is to introduce the psychological principles and processes that underpin many consumption practices. Specific aims are:

  • To encourage a critical examination of the psychological processes and theories that inform consumption
  • To be able to identify which processes operate and how they operate in different consumption practices
  • To be able to both consider the individual and the social identities of consumers in order to better provide an account of why we consume and how

ILO: Module-specific skills

  • 1. show you are able to understand, interpret and apply psychological principles to the theory and practice of consumption
  • 2. demonstrate the importance of psychological mediation in consumption practices
  • 3. appraise and evaluate the psychological principles that underlie consumption

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 4. understand, inform, promote and convey the relevance and importance of a comprehensive understanding of the psychological processes underlying general theories of consumption

ILO: Personal and key skills

  • 5. work effectively in groups to present key ideas and concepts in a particular aspect of consumer research
  • 6. provide using personal reflection on experience an analysis of the role of psychological interpretation of different consumption experiences

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Contact Hours22Lectures
Contact Hours4Fortnightly Tutorials

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Group Presentation10 minutes5-6Verbal

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Examination1002 hour examination1-4Written

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment

Syllabus plan

  • Information processing approaches to consumer psychology
  • The myth of subliminal perception and the reality of attention
  • Cognitive biases and judgment
  • Symbolic value and the negotiation of identity
  • Cross-cultural approaches to consumption
  • Life-span developmental approaches to consumption
  • Consumption and ethical behaviour

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

A core and supplementary reading list will be made available on ELE.

Suitable texts would be:

Jansson-Boyd, C. V. (2010). Consumer Psychology. Mc-Graw Hill. Open University Press.

Jansson-Boyd, C.V (2011). Consumption Matters. Palgrave Macmillan

Kimmel, A. J. (2013). Psychological foundations of marketing. London: Routledge

Module has an active ELE page?


Indicative learning resources - Other resources

Ancillary text that would be helpful:

Kimmel, A. J. (2015). People and products: Consumer behavior and product design London: Routledge.

Origin date


Last revision date