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The Psychology of Selling and Advertising


Entry requirements

Only open to Master’s students Psychology with specialisation Economic and Consumer Psychology


Consumer purchase decisions are influenced by many different psychological factors. As such, findings from Economic and Consumer Psychology can greatly help marketers to understand how products can be sold and advertised. Imagine that you are hired as a consumer psychologist by a company that developed a new product that they would like to sell. What is the best way to do this? And how can you use your psychological knowledge to develop an effective selling and advertising strategy? This is the focus of the present course. You will read psychological literature on how and when consumer preferences for products are influenced by advertising. Furthermore, you will learn how to apply the insights from the literature to build an effective selling and advertising strategy. At the end of the course, you will have acquired psychological knowledge and insights on the topic of selling and advertising and you will know how to apply this knowledge effectively in a consumer setting.

Course objectives

Upon completion of this course, students are able to:

  • define problems that practitioners in selling and advertising face;

  • explain these problems by means of the acquired knowledge from classic and recent articles about the psychology of selling and advertising;

  • provide psychologically-based solutions for these problems; and

  • build a well-founded psychology-based selling and advertising plan for a new product, in which you need to define the target audience, create a brand identity, specify the positioning, and develop an advertising strategy.


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

Five two-hour work group sessions and one three-hour final meeting (attendance to meetings is mandatory). Knowledgde clips.

Assessment method

The final grade is based on: 3 individual written assignments (60% of end grade; related to course objectives 1-3) and 1 final group presentation (40% of end grade; related to course objective 4). For both assignments, the literature from the reading list below will be used and for the final presentation, students are asked to find additional literature and to use the knowledge clips. To pass the course a total (weighted) course grade of at least 5.5 is required, whereby the grade for the final group presentation should be at least a 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

Sheets from the workgroups/knowledge clips and classic and recent journal articles:

Seminar 1: Target Audience
1. Chernev, A. (2004). Goal-attribute compatibility in consumer choice. Journal of Consumer Psychology, 14, 141-150, 2004.
2. Summers, C. A., Smith, R. W., Reczek, R. W. (2016). An audience of one: Behaviorally targeted ads as implied social labels. Journal of Consumer Research, 43, 156-178.
3. Aaker, J. L., Brumbaugh, A. M., & Grier, S. A. (2000). Nontarget markets and viewer distinctiveness: The impact of target marketing on advertising attitudes. Journal of Consumer Psychology, 9, 127-140.
4. Torelli, C. J., Özsomer, A., Carvalho, S. W., Keh, H. T., & Maehle, N. (2012). Brand concepts as representations of human values: Do cultural congruity and compatibility between values matter? Journal of Marketing, 76, 92-108.

Seminar 2: Brand Identity
5. Malär, L., Krohmer, H., Hoyer, W. D., Nyffenegger, B. (2011). Emotional brand attachment and brand personality: The relative importance of the actual and the ideal self. Journal of Marketing, 75, 35-52.
6. Dhar, R., & Wertenbroch, K. (2000). Consumer choice between hedonic and utilitarian goods. Journal of Marketing Research, 37, 60-71.
7. Michel, G., & Donthu, N. (2014). Why negative brand extension evaluations do not always negatively affect the brand: The role of central and peripheral brand associations. Journal of Business Research, 67, 2611-2619.
8. Aaker, J., Fournier, S., & Brasel, S. A. (2004). When good brands do bad. Journal of Consumer Research, 31, 1-1

Seminar 3: Positioning
9. Wänke, M., Bless, H., & Igou, E. R. (2001). Next to a star: Paling, shining, or both? Turning interexemplar contrast into interexemplar assimilation. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 27, 14-29.
10. Simonson, I. (1989). Choice based on reasons: The case of attraction and compromise effects. Journal of Consumer Research, 16, 158-174.
11. Nedungadi, P. (1990). Recall and consumer consideration sets: Influencing choice without altering brand evaluations. Journal of Consumer Research, 17, 263-276.
12. Zhang, S., & Markman, A. B. (2001).Processing product unique features: Alignability and involvement in preference construction. Journal of Consumer Psychology, 11, 13-27.

Seminar 4: Advertising
13. Nordhielm, C. L. (2002). The influence of level of processing on advertising repetition effects. Journal of Consumer Research, 29, 371-382.
14. Lee, A. Y., & Labroo, A. A. (2004). The effect of conceptual and perceptual fluency on brand evaluation. Journal of Marketing Research, 41, 151-165.
15. Shapiro, S., & Krishnan, H. S. (2001). Memory-based measures for assessing advertising effects: A comparison of explicit and implicit memory effects. Journal of Advertising, 30, 1-13.
16. Strick, M., Holland, R. W., Van Baaren, R. B., & Van Knippenberg, A. (2012). Those who laugh are defenseless: How humor breaks resistance to influence. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied, 18, 213-223.

Contact information

Contact information:
Dr. Coen Wirtz c.wirtz@fsw.leidenuniv.nl