U-Penn Consumer Psychology Minor

Supported by Greenhaven Road Capital, finding value off the beaten path.

On Freakonomics, Stephen Dubner brought to light the work of the Behavior Change for Good Initiative. All the lectures are available on YouTube, including the hour-long fireside chat with Danny Kahneman.

The podcast was good, and on the heels of our Rory Sutherland Week – timely. Sutherland suggests MONO solutions – minimalist oblique non-obvious. Angela Duckworth (I liked her book Grit) et al want to marry big data with behavioral economics and give birth to better choices.

The podcast episode included this insight from Danny Kahneman.

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Controlling the environment, say, by compiling resources. I was enamored with the ideas shared in this episode and so I tracked down relevant resources for people who want to learn about what the heck they’re doing at Wharton. Want a degree from Wharton? Here’s the easiest way. 

The Wharton Consumer Psychology Minor has three requirements; statistics, psychology, and marketing.  After scouring syllabus’s, Googling guesses, and abounding around Amazon (these are affiliate links), here’s a course resource for a DIY Wharton minor. Heads up, there were many guest lecturers. I included their names for YouTube/podcast searches.

Statistics. Wharton wants students to complete some kind of basic statistics class. What’s worked for me is to search YouTube for videos as problems come up like the Monty Hall problem. Books that help are How to Lie with Statistics, A Field Guide to Lies (the modernized version of How to), and anything by John Allen Paulos.

Psychology.  Students at Wharton need to choose four courses from the genres of social, evolutionary, or positive psychology. Other options include language and thought, judgment and decisions, and behavioral economics and psychology.

Social has Social Psychology and Yes! for texts.

Positive has four books, students won’t be so positive after seeing that book bill. A Primer in Positive Psychology, Ungifted, The Happiness Hypothesis, and Happiness: The Science Behind Your Smile are the initial texts with lots of optional reading on the syllabus.

Evolutionary I couldn’t find. MIT has a readings list and course as does Geoffrey Miller at the University of New Mexico. Miller is also the author of Spent.

Behavioral Economics has a free book Policy and Choice in addition to not free books by Thaler and Kahneman.

Judgement and Decision Making has Thinking and Deciding and YES! for readings.

Marketing. This is an academic smorgasbord. Introduction to Marketing and Consumer Behavior are two required courses. Then students choose from below.

Consumer Behavior sounds interesting with a wide reading list and handful of guest lectures including David Neal, Kelsey Price, and Pam Strifler.

Principles of Retailing suggests The New Science of Retailing and a handful of HBS case studies.

Digital Marketing suggests Location is (Still) Everything and a handful of academic readings. Guests lecturers include Kristen Green, Aileen Lee, Philip Winter, Jen Rubio, and Rob Coneybeer.

Pricing Strategies has Smart Pricing as the required reading and The Strategy and Tactics of Pricing as the suggested reading.

Creativity has only recommended readings, but thirty-three of them. That’s a creative offering but after advising undergrads I can imagine their paradox of choices.

Strategic Brand Management lists a few books with “strategic brand management” in the title, but has “no required textbook.” Guest lecturers include Eric Anderson, Andrew Mitchell, Eric Staples, and Fran Boller along with case studies on Harley Davidson, Super Bowl commercials, and Steinway and Sons.

Marketing Strategy and Technology is built around articles and guest lectures from Eric Kessler, Candan Erenguc, Ann Ferracane, and Adriana Crespo Tenorio along with lunch with the instructor. Delicious.

Note: At this point of drafting, I realized that college is good at coordinating.  It took a fair bit of time to find this information and type it out. Also, all of these classes have a “class discussion” component of the grade. Having a room where people interested in these ideas can discuss them is a powerful learning tool – at least judging by the weight it has on the syllabus. 

However, thanks to the internet, these costs have gone down. I can buy the books on Amazon. With some clever/devious/illegal searches, anyone can get the HBS case studies. People coordinate on Slack and Reddit all the time. Instructors are missing but DIY is cheaper in dollars and days. 

Marketing for Social Impact has no book. Readings include things like Test, Learn Adapt, Everyone’s Voting and so Should You, and Choice Architecture. Guest lecturers include Chris Marvin, Morgan Berman, and Irma Shrivastava.

Principles of Advertising has a book by the course instructor who comes across as very enthusiastic in the syllabus – no small feat!

New Product Development  suggests the Designing for Growth book (and accompanying workbook).

Entrepreneurial Marketing has “all-star” speakers like Lucinda Duncalfe, Wiley Cerilli, Brett Hurt, and Seith Berger and uses the book Marketing that Works.

Thanks for reading. Ease and enjoyment grease the wheels of action. This is what Duckworth et al. are trying to do – make ‘good for you but hard to do’ things easier.

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