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Emotions and (Ir)rationality in Economic Behaviour


Entry requirements

Only open to master’s students in Psychology with specialisation Economic and Consumer Psychology.


This course —consisting of small-group seminars— provides you with advanced and specialized knowledge of the concepts, methods, and research findings central to the study of emotions in (social) contexts relevant to economic and consumer behaviour and of how this knowledge can be applied to understand and influence economic and consumer decisions. The seminars are interactive work group sessions and initiated by students’ views on the addressed themes. Each seminar has a specific theme to examine the influence of emotions on economic and consumer decisions (i.e., The Emotional Consumer, The Good Consumer, The Persuaded Consumer, The Complaining Consumer, The Conspicuous Consumer, and The Tempted Consumer). During these sessions your academic skills are further developed by presenting and discussing recent scientific insights in the role of emotions in economic and consumer behaviour. At the end of the course, your skills to apply theoretical insights to a ‘real life’ economic and consumer psychology topic will be further advanced and assessed by writing a paper.

Course objectives

During the course, students:

  • Gain specialized knowledge of theories, concepts, methods, and research findings central to the study of emotions in social contexts relevant to economic and consumer behaviour;

  • Learn to analyze different aspects of economic and consumer behaviour from a scientific perspective on emotions; and

  • Learn to apply their knowledge of emotions to understand and influence economic and consumer behaviour in practice.


For the timetable of this course please refer to MyTimetable


NOTE As of the academic year 2021-2022, you must register for all courses in uSis.
You do this twice a year: once for the courses you want to take in semester 1 and once for the courses you want to take in semester 2.
Registration for courses in the first semester is possible from early August. Registration for courses in the first semester is possible from December. The exact date on which the registration starts will be published on the website of the Student Service Center (SSC)

By registering for a course you are also automatically registered for the Brightspace module. Anyone who is not registered for a course therefore does not have access to the Brightspace module and cannot participate in the first sit of the exam of that course.
Also read the complete registration procedure

Mode of instruction

The course consists of 7 2-hour work group sessions (attendance of all work group sessions is mandatory; no web-lectures available).

Assessment method

The final grade is based on: 5 written assignments (1 selected for grading, 50%) and 1 final paper (50%).

  • To pass the course, a total (weighted) course grade of at least 6.0 is required, whereby the mark for the paper should be at least 6.0.

  • In case your mark for the paper is lower than a 6.0 or if you miss the deadline, you will be given 4 weeks to (re)submit the paper. In that case, your mark for this assignment will not be higher than 6.0.

The Institute of Psychology follows the policy of the Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences to systematically check student papers for plagiarism with the help of software. Disciplinary measures will be taken when fraud is detected. Students are expected to be familiar with and understand the implications of this fraud policy.

Reading List

In the work group sessions we will use:
Seminar 1, The Emotional Consumer
1. Lerner, J. S., Li, Y., Valdesole, P., & Kassam, K. S. (2015). Emotion and decision making. Annual Review of Psychology, 66, 799–823.
2. Garg, N., & Lerner, J. S. (2013). Sadness and consumption. Journal of Consumer Psychology, 23, 106-113.
3. Lelieveld. G.-J., Van Dijk, E., Van Beest, I., & Van Kleef, G. A. (2013). Does communicating disappointment in negations help or hurt? Solving an apparent inconsistency in the social-functional approach to emotions (2013). Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 105, 605–620.
4. Mogilner, C., Aaker, J., & Kamvar, S. D. (2011). How happiness affects choice. Journal of Consumer Research, 39, 429-443.

Seminar 2, The Good Consumer
1. Rubaltelli, E., & Agnoli, S. (2012). The emotional cost of charitable donations. Cognition & Emotion, 26, 769–785.
2. Cryder, C. E., Loewenstein, G., & Scheines, R. (2013). The donor is in the details. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes,120, 15-23.
3. Dunn, E. W., Aknin, L. B., & Norton, M. I. (2014). Prosocial spending and happiness: Using money to benefit others pays off. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 23, 41–47.
4. Newman, G. E., & Cain, D. M. (2014) Tainted Altruism: When doing some good is evaluated as worse than doing no good at all. Psychological Science, 25, 648–655.

Seminar 3, The Persuaded Consumer
1. Strick, M., Holland, R. W., Van Baaren, R. B., & Van Knippenberg, A. D. (2009). Finding comfort in a joke: Consolatory effects of humor through cognitive distraction. Emotion, 9(4), 35–45.
2. Hendriks, H., Van den Putte, B., & De Bruijn, G.-J. (2013). Changing the conversation: The influence of emotions on conversational valence and alcohol consumption. Prevention Science, 15, 625–633.
3. Mukherjee, A., & Dubé, L. (2012). Mixing emotions: The use of humor in fear advertising. Journal of Consumer Behaviour, 11, 147–161.
4. Dunn, L., & Hoegg, J. (2014). The impact of fear on emotional brand attachment. Journal of Consumer Research, 41, 152–168.

Seminar 4, The Complaining Consumer
1. Bougie, R., Pieters, R., & Zeelenberg, M. (2003). Angry customers don’t come back, they get back: The experience and behavioural implications of anger and dissatisfaction in services. Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, 31, 377–393.
2. Gregoire, Y., & Fisher, R. (2008). Customer betrayal and retaliation: When your best customers become your worst enemies. Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, 36, 247–261.
3. Kim, J., & Gupta, P. (2012). Emotional expressions in online user reviews: How they influence consumers' product evaluations. Journal of Business Research, 65, 985–992.
4. McGraw, P. A., Warren, C., & Kan. C. (2015). Humorous complaining. Journal of Consumer Research, 41, 1153–1171.

Seminar 5, The Conspicuous Consumer
1. Handgraaf, M., Van Lidth de Jeude, M., & Appelt, K. (2013). Public Praise vs. Private Pay: Effects of Rewards on Energy Conservation in the Workplace. Ecological Economics, 86, 86–92.
2. Sivanathan, N., & Pettit, N. C. (2010). Protecting the self through consumption: Status goods as affirmational commodities. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 46, 564–570.
3. Bolderdijk, J. W., Brouwer, C., & Cornelissen, G. (2018). When Do Morally Motivated Innovators Elicit Inspiration Instead of Irritation?. Frontiers In Psychology, 8, 1–9.
4. Van Griskevicius, V., Tybur, J. M., & Van den Bergh, B. (2010). Going green to be seen: status, reputation, and conspicuous conservation. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 98(3), 392-404.

Seminar 6, The Tempted Consumer
1. Van der Wal, R., & Van Dillen, L. F. (2013). Leaving a flat taste in your mouth. Task load reduces taste perception. Psychological Science, 24, 12771284.
2. Van Dillen, L. F., Papies, E. K., Hofmann, W. (2013). Turning a blind eye to temptation: How cognitive load can facilitate self-regulation. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 104, 427443.
3. Goldsmith, K., Cho, E. K., & Dhar, R. (2012). When guilt begets pleasure: The positive effects of a negative emotion. Journal of Marketing Research, 49, 872–881.
4. Hofmann, W., Vohs, K. D., & Baumeister, R. F. (2012). What people desire, feel conflicted about, and try to resists in everyday life. Psychological Science, 23, 582–588.

Contact information

Dr. Elise Seip