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PSYC 309: THE THINKING CONSUMER IN A MATERIALIST SOCIETY
Fall 2013

 This class uses an online format so there is no meeting time or place. We will interact via HSU's Moodle site.

Catalog Course Description:  Impact of advertising, marketing, and culture on consumer behavior and thought processes.
This course addresses the HSU Learning Objective:
Appreciation for and understanding of an expanded world perspective by engaging respectfully with a diverse range of individuals, communities and viewpoints.
Also, this is an upper-division GE Course in Area D: Communication and Ways of Thinking.
In addition to learning the outcomes for Area B/C/D, upon completion of these courses, students will be able to effectively communicate the connections between two broad disciplinary areas, natural sciences and social sciences, by combining examples, facts or theories from multiple fields or perspectives.

Instructor:       David Campbell

Office:             444 BSS

Phone:              826-3721

Office Hours:   Wed 8:00-11:30

E-mail:              dec1@humboldt.edu

Web site:          users.humboldt.edu/decampbell/psyc.htm

 

Textbooks:  (You must purchase the current edition of the Solomon text.)


   Solomon, M.R. (2013).  Consumer behavior. (10th edition) New Jersey: Prentice Hall. (ISBN 13: 9780132671842)  (Required)


   In addition to our main text by Solomon,you will need one of these two supplementary texts for your book review assignment:  

   Schlosser, E. (2002). Fast food nation: The dark side of the All-American meal.  New York, NY: Perennial. 
   Pollan, M. (2006). Omnivore’s dilemma. New York: Penguin.

 

 

Course Overview:

     We are all consumers.  We all must decide daily how to spend our precious time and money.  This course is designed to shed light on why we behave as we do in the role of consumers.  We examine the role of advertising and marketing campaigns in shifting our choices.  We also analyze how our collective actions contribute to and shape our contemporary culture.  But this course goes beyond understanding of ourselves and of those around us.  Virtually everyone in the class will spend much of their adult lives working in some context.  The fruit of this labor will be some combination of products, services, and information that a target group will consider desirable.  If efforts are not made to study and understand the perceived needs of potential "customers," then there is a very real risk that the productive labor will fail.  The ideas and information encountered in this course will have direct value in helping students to become successful in their chosen careers.  While covering this information, we must be mindful that there is a "dark side" to consumer behavior.  Persuasive advertising and effective marketing can result in addictions and destructive behavior that raise disturbing questions regarding our materialistic values.  We will confront this dark side and debate the implications for our way of life.

Learning Outcomes:

  1. Our basic objective in this course is for you to understand, retain, and able to apply the basic terms, concepts, and findings in the field of consumer psychology. You will take quizzes and exams that assess your understanding and retention of these concepts and findings. Your ability to apply the concepts to your personal life will be the focus of most of the homework assignments in this course.
  2. The course includes assignments that will allow you to demonstrate your understanding of how changes in society affect the choices and actions of women and people of color when acting in the role of consumers.
  3. Psychology is a science of behavior. In this course, you will develop an understanding of how the social sciences (psychology, sociology, & anthropology) and the professional schools (business, marketing, and management) differ in how they approach the plight of the consumer in a materialistic society.
  4. You will practice and develop your writing skills as you prepare assignments for this course: discussion forums, homework assignments, book report.

The work in this course facilitates the attainment of the Psychology Department’s goals to: (1) demonstrate knowledge in the social and interpersonal processes area of psychological science, (2) demonstrate effective communication skills, effective interpersonal skills, increased self-understanding, and insight into the behavior of others, (3) apply your knowledge and skills in psychology to improve your own life and the lives of others.

The assignments in this course also help in the attainment of three basic HSU learning objectives: (1) effective communication through written and oral modes, (2) critical and creative thinking skills in acquiring a broad base of knowledge and applying it to complex issues, and (3) competence in a major area of study.


Course Procedure:

     Since this class is being taught via the internet, we will not have traditional face-to-face meetings. You must do the assigned reading and submit homework assignments as you would in a traditional class. And you will have several exams over the course material—all completed over the web except for the final exam. Beyond that, much of your work in this course will be in the form of participation in a “virtual” class discussion. Frequently during the week, you will be expected to logon to Moodle and contribute to the discussion using a bulletin board format. This will require a fair amount of your time, but if done conscientiously, you will find that the class debate and discussion is one of the most interesting parts of the whole course. The expectation is that you will spend a total 3-4 hours each week participating in class discussion (note that we are using the time you would normally spend going to, waiting for, and sitting through lectures each week). As a rough guide, you can expect to spend 9 hours/week in work associated with this course (an application of the "2 for 1 rule").

 

Grading:

            25% of your course grade will be based on weekly quizzes over the assigned reading.  Please don't ask for make-up opportunities; these quizzes must be completed by the scheduled due dates (normally by Friday midnight).

            20% of your grade will be determined by your participation in group discussion. Log on frequently, participate fully, and you will do well with this part of your responsibilities.

            15% of the grade will be based on a narrated slide presentation of a topic chosen by you. This will be an individual project. Detailed instructions will be provided but think of this as a short (6-8 minute) presentation based on 15-20 PowerPoint slides. 

            15% will be determined by your book review of one of the supplementary textbooks assigned this semester.

            25% is left for your final exam. This will be a comprehensive multiple-choice test taken online and based on the textbook reading assigned during the semester.

 

Student Responsibilities:

            You are expected to tackle this course in a constructive and mature manner.  Your goal should be to find out what psychology and related disciplines know about consumer thinking and behavior.  It is expected that you will logon to our course site frequently  and will participate fully in the class activities.  Also, be sure to review the HSU policy on academic honesty.  You need to be aware of what constitutes cheating and plagiarism (e.g., is it OK to turn in essentially the same paper in two classes with similar assignments, or is it OK to make use of quizzes provided by your roommate from the same class last semester?). 

 

Extra Credit:

            You can earn extra credit in this course by participating in one or two hours of research as a participant (subject).  To sign up for experiments, you need to first create an account in the participation pool system.  Instructions are available at https://hsupool.sona-systems.com/Default.aspx?ReturnUrl=/  Extra credit in this course does not carry a specific point value but it will be helpful if you are between two course grades at the end of the semester.

 

 

Schedule of Topics and Reading Assignments

 

Week           Topic                                  Solomon

 

Aug 26  Introduction                                                       1

 

Sept 2   Perception                                                          2

 

Sept 9   Learning & Memory                                            3

 

      16    Motivation & Global Values                                 4

 

      23   The Self                                                             5

 

      30  Personality & Psychographics                               6

 

Oct 7   Attitudes & Persuasion                                        7

 

      14   Decision Making                                                  8

 

      21  Buying & Disposing                                               9

  

      28  Organizational & Household Decision Making      10   Presentation topic description & two sources due Saturday

 

 Nov 4  Groups & Social Media                                         11

 

      11   Social Class & Lifestyles                                      12

 

      18  Subcultures                                                          13


        25  Thanksgiving Break                                                       --

  

Dec 2  Culture                                                               14

 

      9  Completion of presentation & book review            Presentation due Tuesday, Comments due Saturday, Book Review due Sunday

 

 Finals Week (Dec 16-20)                                 Comprehensive final exam must be taken on Thursday (online).