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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


One of the most important findings in Economic and Consumer Psychology is that consumer preferences are not stable, but rather are influenced by many different contextual factors, both consciously and unconsciously. In marketing practice, this knowledge is relatively new and most marketers do not know how consumers make decisions. In this course, you will learn how marketers build a marketing plan and you will practice how the psychology of decision making can be incorporated in a marketing context. You will read scientific literature on how and when consumer preferences for products are influenced by advertising. Furthermore, you will learn how to apply the insights from this literature to sell and advertise effectively.

Assume that you worked hard to develop a new product. What, based on your psychological knowledge is the best way to make consumers buy your product? What is the best way to advertise it? What cues can you best use to deliver your message? And what are the pitfalls of “bad” advertising? This course will focus on these and other questions, and on how the psychological literature can help in answering them. To reach this aim, we will read classic and recent journal articles, which we will incorporate in real-life marketing contexts. At the end of the course you will have gained more insight in the psychology of selling and advertising and will be able to use your insights in marketing practice.

Course objectives

Upon completion of this course, students will:

  • acquire knowledge of classic and recent findings on the psychology of selling and advertising;

  • be able to put these psychological insights into marketing practice; and

  • have the tools to build a well-founded selling strategy.


For the timetables of your lectures, work groups and exams, please select your study programme in:
Psychology timetables

Semester 1: Lectures Work group sessions

Semester 2: Lectures Work group sessions



Students need to enroll for lectures and work group sessions.
Master’s course registration


Students are not automatically enrolled for an examination. They can register via uSis from 100 to 10 calendar days before the date. Students who are not registered will not be permitted to take the examination.
Registering for exams

Mode of instruction

One two-hour introductory lecture, 4 two-hour work group sessions and 1 three-hour final meeting (attendance to meetings is mandatory).

Assessment method

The final grade is based on: 4 individual written assignments (50% of end grade) and 1 final group presentation (50% of end grade). To pass the course a total (weighted) course grade of at least 6.0 is required, whereby the grade for the final group presentation should be at least 6.0.

The Faculty of Social and Behaviroual Sciences has instituted that instructors use a software programme for the systematic detection of plagiarism in students’ written work. In case of fraud disciplinary actions will be taken.

Reading list

Sheets from the workgroups/lectures 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. Erik de Kwaadsteniet kwaadsteniet@fsw.leidenuniv.nll