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The Psychology of Media and Communication


Entry requirements

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

This course is offered twice a year


This course offers a psychological perspective on communication in an economic and consumer psychology setting—such as health, sustainability, or prosocial behaviour. We will cover insights from (economic and consumer) psychology and communication science. You will learn psychological principles of influence, effective communication strategies, and media effects. In small-group seminars, you will learn to analyze an economic and consumer psychology problem. You will also learn to create an evidence-based persuasive message (e.g., poster, video, app) and communication strategy (e.g., what to communicate to whom, when, where) to address this problem. At the end of the course, you have knowledge about basic principles of the psychology of media and communication. You also know how to provide an evidence-based reasoning for a persuasive message and communication strategy.

Course objectives

At the end of this course, the student:

  • has specialised knowledge on theories, concepts and research findings central to the psychology of influence and media effects

  • can apply this specialised knowledge to predict effectiveness of concrete messages

  • can analyse an economic and consumer psychology problem from a scientific perspective

  • can create an evidence-based influence strategy to address an economic and consumer psychology problem

  • can clearly communicate the results of a problem analysis and the background of an evidence-based influence strategy

  • has knowledge of ethical issues of influencing and changing behaviour in the field of economic and consumer psychology


For the timetable of this course please refer to MyTimetable



Students must register themselves for all course components (lectures, tutorials and practicals) they wish to follow. You can register up to 5 days prior to the start of the course.


You must register for each exam in My Studymap at least 10 days before the exam date. You cannot take an exam without a valid registration in My Studymap. Carefully read all information about the procedures and deadlines for registering for courses and exams.

Exchange students and external guest students will be informed by the education administration about the current registration procedure.

Mode of instruction

One 2-hour introductory lecture, five 2-hour work group sessions, and online knowledge clips:

  • Introductory lecture: to cover the course goals and a general theoretical background of the psychology of influence.

  • Work group sessions: to work on the persuasive message and the media and communication strategy.

  • Online knowledge clips: to cover the relevant literature on the psychology of influence.

Attendance to all meetings (introductory lecture and workgroups) is mandatory.

Assessment method

The final grade is based an exam (50% of final grade) and a report (50% of final grade):

  • The exam assesses knowledge about the psychology of effective communication and media effects.

  • The report describes an evidence-based persuasive message and communication strategy.

Please note:

  • Final grade should be at least a 6.0: The grade for the exam should be 5.5 or higher and the grade for the report should be a 6.0 or higher.

  • The exam covers Van de Pligt and Vliek (2017) and (the slides from) the knowledge clips.

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. All students are required to take and pass the Scientific Integrity Test with a score of 100% in order to learn about the practice of integrity in scientific writing. Students are given access to the quiz via a module on Brightspace. 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 groups, we will use:

  • Buunk, A.P., Dijkstra, P., & Van Vugt, M. (2021). Applying social psychology: From problems to solutions. SAGE Publications.
    In the knowledge clips, we will cover:

  • Van der Pligt, J., & Vliek, M. L. W. (2017). The psychology of Influence: Theory, research and application. Psychology Press (Routledge).

Recommended reading before the start of the course:

  • Cialdini, R.B. (2007). Influence. The Psychology of Persuasion. New York: Collins.

Contact information

Dr. Leticia Micheli