• FutureLearn logo

Cognitive Psychology: Employee and Customer Behaviour

Delve into behaviour change and the tactics you can use to attract, understand, and influence your customers.

Image of a female sitting at a table looking worried and holding a calculator in one hand and the other hand is holding her head.
  • Duration

    3 weeks
  • Weekly study

    2 hours
  • 100% online

    How it works
  • Included in an ExpertTrack

    Course 2 of 3
  • Get full ExpertTrack access

    $39/monthFind out more

Explore the psychological factors that influence behaviour

This three-week course will help you explore the role of the subconscious and emotions in decision-making and strategies for capturing the attention of your customers.

With this knowledge, you’ll be empowered to not only attract the customers you want, but understand, anticipate, and meet their needs completely.

Understand priming as an influencing tactic

Exploring priming in psychology, you’ll learn to identify a prime and distinguish it from an influence that people are consciously aware of.

You’ll discuss examples from everyday life as well as examining a number of studies showing priming effects. With this knowledge, you’ll start to think about how you could design your own prime.

Explore the SALIENT checklist and anchoring

With an understanding of primes, you’ll then explore how to use a wide range of them using the SALIENT checklist.

You’ll discuss the role of salience in decision-making and the components of salient messages before examining the role of anchoring and peak-end evaluation.

This knowledge will help you explore how to apply concepts to your organisation.

Understand what affects behaviour change

Exploring the role emotions play in decision-making, you’ll debate the relationship between rational behaviour and emotions.

By the end of this course, you’ll have examined the ways you can change behaviour and also critically evaluate whether it’s right to do so.


  • Week 1


    • Welcome

      Welcome to Cognitive Psychology: Employee and Customer Behaviour. In this first week on priming, Paul will take you through the unconscious influences on our behaviour and whether they can be harnessed to create behaviour change.

    • The least conscious element of MINDSPACE

      Priming is a very contested area of psychology. This week, Paul will give you a thorough oversight of research and real-life examples, including why a successful study may not work a second time.

    • Evidence for priming

      In this activity, we will discuss a number of studies that have shown priming effects and you will start to think about how you could design your own prime.

    • Controversy over prime studies

      In this activity, we will look at the controversy over prime studies. You will be able to engage critically with priming studies and will develop a basic knowledge of the issue of replication.

    • The SALIENT checklist

      In this activity, you will learn about the SALIENT checklist, and you will start to think about how to apply primes to change behaviour.

    • Wrap up

      In this activity, we will briefly summarise what you have learned about priming this week and look forward to salience, the topic covered next week.

  • Week 2


    • Introduction to Salience

      In this activity, you will be able to discuss the role of salience and framing in our decisions.

    • Making things salient

      In this activity, you will be able to examine components of salient messages and how to use messages salient to the general public. This activity is focused on applying salience to change behaviour.

    • Salience and heuristics

      You will examine heuristics and biases that influence how they focus their attention. Additionally, you'll learn how events and elements of our experience influence our attention, making sense of probabilities.

    • Attention

      In this activity, you will be able to discuss the importance of attention. Our attention is a scarce resource and our brains use shortcuts to direct our attention. These work well most of the time, but not always...

    • Wrap up

      In this short activity, we will wrap up what you have learned about salience and attention. We will then briefly introduce Affect or emotions, the topic to be covered next week.

  • Week 3


    • Introduction to affect and emotion

      In this activity, we will introduce affect and emotion. You will identify the most used understandings of emotions and highlight the role emotions play in making decisions.

    • Are emotions rational?

      In this activity, we will debate the relationship between rational behaviour and emotions, including the meaning of the former.

    • The neuroscience of affect

      In this activity, you will engage with some of the basic contours of neuroscientific findings with regard to affect.

    • Affect in practice

      In this activity, you'll examine how to use affect to change behaviour, but also whether you always should.

    • Wrap up

      In this short activity, we will summarise what you have learned about Affect and look forward to next week, on incentives.

Prove you're job ready

Highlight the new, job-relevant skills you’ve gained and supplement existing qualifications with a hard-earned, industry-specific digital certificate – plus one for every course within your ExpertTrack.

  • Learn the latest in your chosen industry or subject.
  • Complete each course and pass assessments.
  • Receive certificates validated by the educating organisation.
  • Impress employers with learning outcomes you can add to your CV.
  • Make your career dreams a reality.

Download a PDF

Learning on this course

On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

  • Describe what a prime is and distinguish it from an influence.
  • Discuss a number of studies which have shown priming effects.
  • Discuss a wide range of primes using the SALIENT checklist.
  • Apply primes to change behaviour.
  • Explore components of salient messages.
  • Investigate the role of anchoring and peak-end evaluation, and ways to apply them in your organisation.
  • Debate the relationship between rational behaviour and emotions.
  • Explore the neuroscience of affect.

Who is the course for?

This course is designed for anyone wanting to better understand customer needs and motivations.

It will be particularly useful if you are a team manager.

Who will you learn with?

Paul is a Professor of Behavioural Science. His main research interests are human behaviour and happiness. Author of bestselling Happiness by Design and Happy Ever After, host of Duck-Rabbit podcast.

Who developed the course?


FutureLearn is a leading social learning platform and has been providing high quality online courses for learners around the world over the last ten years.

About this ExpertTrack

Discover the skills to unlock positive behavioural change in your customers and employees with behavioural scientist Paul Dolan.

Start learning today - free 7-day trial

After your free trial you can:

  • Pay $39 per month to keep learning online
  • Have complete control over your subscription; you can cancel any time
  • Work at your own pace and set your own deadlines at every stage
  • Only pay while you’re learning; the subscription will cancel automatically when you finish
  • Complete online assessments to test your knowledge and prove your skills
  • Earn digital course certificates and a final award that you can share online, with potential employers, and your professional network
  • Keep access to the content of courses you complete even after your subscription ends

Learning on FutureLearn

Your learning, your rules

  • Courses are split into weeks, activities, and steps to help you keep track of your learning
  • Learn through a mix of bite-sized videos, long- and short-form articles, audio, and practical activities
  • Stay motivated by using the Progress page to keep track of your step completion and assessment scores

Join a global classroom

  • Experience the power of social learning, and get inspired by an international network of learners
  • Share ideas with your peers and course educators on every step of the course
  • Join the conversation by reading, @ing, liking, bookmarking, and replying to comments from others

Map your progress

  • As you work through the course, use notifications and the Progress page to guide your learning
  • Whenever you’re ready, mark each step as complete, you’re in control
  • Complete 90% of course steps and all of the assessments to earn your certificate

Want to know more about learning on FutureLearn? Using FutureLearn

Get a taste of this course

Find out what this course is like by previewing some of the course steps before you join:

Do you know someone who'd love this course? Tell them about it...