What Is Consumer Behavior?

Consumer behavior is a hotbed of psychological research as it ties together issues of communication (advertising and marketing), identity (you are what you buy), social status, decision-making, and mental and physical health. Corporations use findings about consumer behavior to determine how best to market products; you can put the information to use in consciously deciding what, when, and why to buy.

Recent posts on Consumer Behavior

Why Posted Prices Are Often Meaningless

There’s a significant gap between asked-for prices and what customers actually pay.
By Sanjay Acharya (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 Wikimedia Commons

New Thinking Required: Oil, Cars, and Walking

Cars changed us. How will we change cars?

Dove’s Latest Body Positivity Failure

By Renee Engeln Ph.D. on June 15, 2017 in Beauty Sick
If Dove’s bottles could speak, they’d blend right into the chorus of voices encouraging women to take an objectified perspective on their own bodies.

Judging Your Worth

By Kirby Farrell Ph.D. on June 12, 2017 in A Swim in Denial
China is developing a digital system to track and evaluate its population of 1.3 billion people. They’re not the only ones.

6 Ways Public Swimming Pools Have Changed

Gone are the unadorned rectangular pools of yesteryear. Now, public pools are full-fledged aquatic complexes that proffer an immersive experience.

Material Girl, Miserable Girl

By Sarah C. Newcomb Ph.D. on June 06, 2017 in Loaded
People who place a high importance on material wealth report lower quality of life in physical, social, emotional, and professional domains.

Why Are We So Obsessed with What's 'Natural'?

Wondering what people are talking about when they say they fear 'toxins'? Turns out an obsession with the "natural" is a fundamental feature of our psychologies.

Of Gods and Burqas: on Seeing a Student in a Burqa

By Eric Dietrich Ph.D. on June 02, 2017 in Excellent Beauty
We are losing the fight between religion and both science and morality. The ghost of Orwell smiles.

Portion Sizes and Sugary Drinks

By Art Markman Ph.D. on June 02, 2017 in Ulterior Motives
There is a growing consensus that high doses of sugar can cause serious health problems. Can policies aimed to curb consumption of sugary drinks actually work?

What is Undisciplined Spending?

It’s a repeated, habitual pattern of three potentially harmful spending behaviors.

Costly Curves

By Alain Samson Ph.D. on May 25, 2017 in Consumed
The thin ideal turns big people into big spenders.

The Science Behind Why People Follow the Crowd

By Rob Henderson on May 24, 2017 in After Service
You think you are in control of your own thoughts and behavior. But social psychology tells a different story.

The Cloaked Pull of Persuasion in Marketing

When we understand some of the most effective marketing techniques, it’s easier to resist them, but knowledge alone isn’t enough to shield us from their persuasive power.

Does the Popularity of Emoji Mean We Are Getting Dumber?

The rise and rise of Emoji makes us more effective communicators in the digital age.

Why Eating Avocado Toast Can Set You Back Financially

It’s not eating avo-toast that matters so much as what the choice signifies.

Who Moved My Virtual cheese ?

When you mess with mental models, you run a major risk of slowing down and annoying your customers, potentially losing them all together.

Fight or Flight: What Causes Air Rage? The Surprising Answer

Fighting inflight is a dangerous "new normal." Understanding air rage through addressing aired grievances can enhance the ability of airlines to restore the friendly skies.

Why Customers Often Don’t Get What They Want

It’s because companies & consumers define the concept of customer value differently.

The Psychology of Effective Fundraising

Research on the psychology of fundraising can help you avoid these 4 common mistakes!

The Hidden Tug of Marketing

By Holly Parker, Ph.D. on April 27, 2017 in Your Future Self
Thanks to diligent research, marketers know how to pull our strings while we don’t have a clue it’s happening.

Agitating for the Environment

One place to take on global environmental stewardship may be your own laundry room. Remarkably, the spotlight now is not on detergents or bleach, but rather on the apparel itself.

Consciously Consuming Media and Narratives

By Barnet Bain on April 20, 2017 in Doing and Being
Are messages and media wearing you down? Here are some ways to approach it.

A Fool and His or Her Money, Psychologically Speaking

Three cognitive biases that can lead to unwise financial decisions.

What Test-Takers Share With Ejected Airline Passengers

By Alfie Kohn on April 18, 2017 in The Homework Myth
The reason United can oversell its seats (and drag people off its planes) is related to why student exams are standardized: The focus isn't on excellence but on winning

Will Your Next Car Drive Itself?

For success new technologies must create experiences that engage and satisfy consumers. Experience, not technology, determines whether we will buy and use a new product.

Scarcity Makes Everything Desirable

Scarcity contributes to an interesting and a meaningful life.

In Defense of United Airlines

The fiasco of dragging a passenger off a plane needs more tempered reaction.

The United Debacle, or, It Doesn’t Take Much to Be Loved

By Tim Leberecht on April 11, 2017 in The Romance of Work
The reason we are so appalled by United going nuclear is that it happened in the one workplace we all share: the airplane seat. It could have happened to any of us.
Health Affairs

What Do Calorie Labels Mean for America's Waistline?

By Peter A. Ubel M.D. on April 11, 2017 in Scientocracy
We need to find better ways to help translate dietary information into healthy behavior.

When Effects Are Invisible: From Comfort to Freedom

What is it that makes the existing global system continue to function with our ongoing participation, when so many of us know how close to the edge of catastrophe we are?