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PSYC 309:  THE THINKING CONSUMER IN A MATERIALISTIC SOCIETY

(Fall 2016)

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:   Continuous (by e-mail) and usually 8:30-11:30 Wed in my office.

E-mail:              dec1@humboldt.edu

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

 

Text:  (Be sure to purchase the correct edition.)
Solomon, M.R. (2017).  Consumer behavior: Buying, having, and being. (12th edition).
Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education. (Required)

 

NOTE: You must have your textbooks at the beginning of the semester. Reading assignments and homework typically begin in the first week. If you cannot afford the required texts, ask about the emergency loan program at our Financial Aid Office.

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 Departmentís 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. You will have writing assignments, weekly quizzes, and a comprehensive final exam covering the course materialóall completed online. This will require a fair amount of your time. 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).

 

25% of your grade will be determined by your thoughts and reactions to the reading material -- posted to a weekly discussion forum. Late work will not be graded.

 

25% of the grade will be based on three writing projects.

 

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.  

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 considered if your end-of-semester calculated course grade places you at the lower side of the border between two course grades.

Course Grade Calculation: At the end of the semester you will have earned a letter grade for each type of assignment.
   Quizzes. 15 pts each, 180 total. A=153-180, B=135-152, C=117-134, D=108-116.
   Weekly forum homework posts. 12 pts each, 144 total. A=133-144, B=121-132, C=109-120, D=97-108.
   Writing assignments. 12 pts each, 36 total. A=33-36, B=29-32, C=25-28, D=22-24.
   Final Exam. 72 pts total. A=61-72, B=54-60, C=47-53, D=40-46.
Your assignment letter grades will be weighted as indicated above to get a weighted grade point. This will be converted to your course grade: A=3.5-4.0, B=2.5-3.4, C=1.5-2.4, D=1.0-1.4
Amount of extra credit will be considered for those at grade borders.
Plus and minus grades are applied for point totals just below or above a grade border on assignments and for weighted course GP just below or above a grade border.

Student Responsibilities:

You are expected to tackle this course in a constructive and mature manner.  Your instructor expects you to make your work in this course a high priority, keeping up with reading, and completing all assignments on time.  Exams, in particular, must be taken when scheduled. There are no make-up exams in this course. 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?).

 

Schedule of Topics and Reading Assignments:

 

(Note that initial homework is due at midnight Friday on the week it is assigned)

Wk #

WEEK

TOPIC

READING ASSIGNMENT

1

Aug 22-27

Orientation & first writing assignment

--

2

Aug 28-Sept 3

Basic concepts in consumer psych

Ch 1 (Solomon text)

3

Sept 4-10

Decision making & consumer behavior

Ch 2

4

Sept 11-17

Cultural influences on decision making

Ch 3

5

Sept 18-24

Social well-being of the consumer

Ch 4

6

Sept 25-Oct 1

Second writing assignment

--

7

Oct 2-8

Perception as a consumer issue

Ch 5

8

Oct 9-15

Learning & memory as consumer issues

Ch 6

9

Oct 16-22

The self -- A central concept in CB

Ch 7

10

Oct 23-29

Consumer attitudes & the persuasion process

Ch 8

11

Oct 30-Nov 5

Third writing assignment

--

12

Nov 6-12

Group & situational effects on CB

Ch 9

13

Nov 13-19

Consumer identity I -- Sex roles & subcultures

Ch 10

 14

Nov 27-Dec 3

Consumer identity II -- Social class & lifestyles

Ch 11

15

Dec 4-10

Networked consumer behavior

Ch 12

16

Dec 15

FINAL EXAM Comprehensive online final: Must be taken on Thursday of finals week.