In the master’s specialisation in Economic and Consumer Psychology, students will study the psychological mechanisms that underlie many of our choices and decisions concerning consumption and other economic behaviours.
Our days are filled with countless decisions and the consequences of these decisions. And if this is not already hard enough by itself, companies and organisations try to influence our choices and decisions, through marketing and advertising. But how do we decide? How rational are our choices? How do we sell our own products and ideas to others? As economic behaviours overlap to a large extent with social behaviours, the master’s specialisation in Economic and Consumer Psychology has a lot to offer in answering these questions.
The specialisation aims at providing students with comprehensive knowledge and excellent skills in economic and consumer psychology, which will enable them to work independently at a professional level in a relevant field.
“Economics is at least 50% Psychology.”
“We are all consumers, making more or less important decisions and choices on a daily basis. Models of human decision-making have been dominated by economic theories and the view of people as Homo Economicus. But we are not homo economicus; we are Homo Sapiens with desires, beliefs, and emotions.
Economics is at least 50% psychology, and psychology can help to broaden the view of human nature. Fortunately, more and more elements from psychology are becoming introduced into economics. The psychologist Daniel Kahneman received the Nobel Prize for economics. Behavioural economists Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein wrote a best-selling book (Nudge) on how policy making can be improved by combining insights from economics and psychology.
So, psychology is starting to make a difference, but there is still a long way to go. Our master’s specialisation in Economic and Consumer Psychology will train students to build bridges between economics and psychology.
And can we make a difference? Yes, we can!”
“Learning to think from the consumer’s perspective”
“At ECP we try to explain consumer behaviour based on psychological insights. Why do people make particular buying choices? To what extent are these free choices, or are they in fact habits? What role do temptation or deception play?
You focus on theoretical concepts and learn to think about the psychology behind consumer behaviour. What makes this master’s interesting is the combination of academic subjects and a practical internship in a business environment. In my case, I spent six months with Unilever, working on the marketing of the Andrélon brand. I got the chance to put what I had been studying into practice: what are consumers looking for, what is the relevance of a particular product, and how can we mould that?
Making the transition from theory to practice is very exciting; it also made me realise that there’s a real need for the approach taken in this master’s. The FMCG industry mainly still works with conventional marketing techniques, and does little with behavioural psychology. In my opinion, consumer psychology is going to become even more relevant in future, particularly in difficult economic times.
What I particularly liked about my master’s is that it is small-scale so you don’t feel like just a number. One tip I would give you is to do an internship at a company where you would actually like to work, because it’s an ideal opportunity to make your face known there over a longer period. It was through my internship that I landed a challenging job within Unilever.”
“The part of my study that is useful, is the knowledge about consumer behavior and consumer decision-making, as well as team management and team motivation.”
“Before starting my career as a white-collar worker, I decided to take a short break during my Master to make a solo trip to South-East Asia. Luck was on my side though.’
‘Not only did I get the opportunity to do my internship abroad, but I also met a fellow traveller for whom I have been working since I returned in June 2013. I was only asked to help out with a couple of things. It turned out that my help was appreciated more than I thought and I have been working here ever since.’
‘The huge advantage of my current job is the remote work: wherever I am, as long as I have my laptop with me and access to the internet, I can perform my duty. I started with doing some basic and simple research as an intern, being the personal assistant of the CEO.’
‘Over the last year, this position has evolved and transformed into a more senior role, where my responsibilities vary from doing a simple research task, to leading a production team or recruiting new people. I am responsible for delivering a top-notch product and establishing a professional team to build the future of the company.’
‘Being part of a small startup company I have to face many challenges on a daily basis. One of them is the change in workload, where some weeks require more labor than others. Another challenge is the uncertainty, where my future depends on the success of the products and services I help to deliver. Nevertheless, I am very satisfied where I am right now.”
Prof.dr. Wilco van Dijk talking about ‘Schadenfreude’ in ‘Spijkers met Koppen’ (in Dutch)