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Consumer Behavior

Course Number:



Christopher Olivola,





Course Description

Marketing, in particular, begins and ends with the consumer – from determining consumer needs to ensuring customer satisfaction.  In this course, we will explore the most recent scientific research in marketing, psychology, and behavioral economics on judgment and decision making. We will develop your ability to understand and influence what people want, how people decide what and when to buy, and whether people will be satisfied or dissatisfied with their decisions. These psychological insights are particularly useful for marketing strategy, brand positioning, and marketing communication decisions, but also yield insight into common biases in judgment and decision making, beyond marketing, to which you would otherwise fall prey.  Why people are willing to drive across town to save $5 on a tank of gasoline, for example, when they would not drive a minute to save $5 on a refrigerator.  We will discuss some of these applications in class.  In addition, we will examine the methodology of market research (specific to consumer behavior) to build the tools you will need to interpret and base decisions on it. Readings will include primary empirical research articles (e.g., Journal of Consumer Research articles), business journal articles, and research reviews (e.g., Harvard Business Review articles). The course includes lecture, discussion, an exam, and a team term project.   (10/12-CM)


Lecture: 100min/wk and Recitation: 50min/wk