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Social Psychology: Employee and Customer Behaviour

Explore the ways you can better understand your employees and customers and use social psychology to motivate desired behaviours.

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  • Duration

    4 weeks
  • Weekly study

    2 hours
  • 100% online

    How it works
  • Included in an ExpertTrack

    Course 1 of 3
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Delve into behavioural science and human behaviour

Why do we act in the ways that we do, and how can we apply our understanding of human behaviour to the world of business?

This four-week course will help you explore the discipline of behavioural science and how we can apply this understanding to human behaviour and the world of business.

You’ll learn how to utilise effective messengers, understand the influence of socio-cultural norms, and recognise the role of the ego to better serve the needs of your employees and your customers.

Understand nudging and the rational model

You’ll explore behavioural economics and what we know about how people make decisions.

This will help you identify the shortcomings of the rational model of human behaviour and give you an understanding of heuristics and biases.

Through a number of case studies, you’ll also learn about nudging and the rationale for using it.

Explore the importance of messengers

You’ll learn how vital it is to choose the right messenger and the influence of those who communicate information.

Exploring the main characteristics and differences between hard and soft messengers, you’ll learn how to choose the right one to communicate an effective message.

Learn how to harness norms and ego

You’ll understand the definition of norms, and how and why people follow them. With this knowledge, you’ll learn how to apply and harness positive norms to specific audiences.

You’ll also identify the ways you can harness ego to create desired behaviours.

By the end of this course, you’ll be able to demonstrate how to leverage effective behaviour change using different social psychological factors.


  • Week 1

    Behaviour change

    • Welcome

      Welcome to this course and ExpertTrack. In these introductory steps, you'll meet lead educator Paul Dolan, who outlines what the course will cover and how best to learn on the course.

    • Why do we act in the way that we do?

      How can we truly understand and predict human behaviour? We'll look at the main approaches of psychologists and of economics, and show how contemporary behavioural science combines the best of the two.

    • Insight from behavioural economics

      In this activity, you will explore the most widely accepted heuristics and biases, and draw from Kahneman and Tversky’s pioneering work in documenting how we really make decisions.

    • Changing behaviour

      In this activity, you will learn about the rationale for nudging and will study a number of case studies where nudging has (and hasn’t) worked.

    • Robust influences

      MINDSPACE is a mnemonic that has synthesised decades of research in behavioural science to give practitioners a good idea of the most reliable effects on our behaviour. In this activity, you explore what it is and why you use it.

    • Wrap up

      In this activity we will summarise what you have learned so far about behavioural science and take a brief look at what you'll learn next week, when we start looking at MINDSPACE in earnest.

  • Week 2


    • Welcome

      Welcome to the week on messengers: who we listen to, why, and how we can use it to change behaviour. Paul Dolan will take you through the all-important role of messengers in our lives.

    • The messenger and not the message

      In this activity, you will describe the importance of messengers and be able to identify which factors are important for identifying good messengers in a given situation.

    • Hard messengers

      In this activity, you will assess the main characteristics of ‘hard’ messengers and how to use these to communicate messages effectively. You'll explore examples of these changing behaviours in the public and private sectors.

    • Soft messengers

      You will evaluate 'soft messaging' in this activity to determine when it is superior (or inferior) to hard messaging. You will also explore relevant debates examples on social media.

    • Messengers in practice: the good and the bad

      In this activity, you will identify how our reliance on messengers can lead to positive and negative outcomes, as well as be able to implement proven and practical methods for improving the effectiveness of messengers.

    • Wrap up

      In this short activity we will summarise what you have learned about messengers and how to apply messenger effects in your organisation. We will then look at what you are going to learn next week: social norms.

  • Week 3


    • Behavioural expectations within groups

      Welcome to the week on social norms, where Paul Dolan will outline how social norms work, why you follow them, and how they can be harnessed to change behaviour.

    • Societal or group norms: taking cues from people like us

      In this activity, you will learn how to recognise the prevalence of norms, as well as how and why people follow them.

    • Encourage desirable norms and relate to your target audience

      In this activity, you will apply and harness positive norms and target them to specific audiences to design effective norm interventions.

    • Social networks and reinforcement

      Norms are not static in the real world, because you continually gain information and learn from those around us. This activity examines and reflects on norms as a dynamic process that requires continual feedback and reinforcement.

    • Dealing with undesirable norms

      In this activity, you will assess how a norm is likely to influence behaviour in a given situation and design interventions in such a way that they avoid backfiring or otherwise undesirable consequences.

    • Wrap up

      This short activity will summarise what you have learned about social norms and how to harness them to create behaviour change. We will also look forward to Ego, the topic for next week.

  • Week 4


    • Feeling better about yourself

      Welcome to the week on Ego, where Paul Dolan will outline how our beliefs and the narratives we tell ourselves affect our behaviour.

    • Supporting a positive and consistent self image

      In this activity, you will look at how you act in ways that make us feel better about ourselves. Our desire to maintain a positive and consistent self-image is hugely important and can be harnessed for effective behaviour change.

    • Acting in ways that promote positive self image

      In this activity, you will explore how Ego can be harnessed to create desired behaviours. This will help you to design nudges that harness Ego-based effects.

    • Self-consistent behaviours

      In this activity, you'll investigate narratives, motivated reasoning, and how these can be used to understand and predict behaviour. You will learn more about beliefs and how they are constructed and defended.

    • Performance bias

      In this activity, you will look at performance bias, demonstrate how beliefs can be self-reinforced, and how comparison with others can be leveraged to affect behaviour change.

    • Wrap up

      In this activity, we will revisit the poll you did at the beginning, before summarising what we have learned about Ego. We will then move on to the Activity Wrap-Up on Egos, before getting started with Priming in the next week.

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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...

  • Identify the main shortcomings of the rational model.
  • Describe the rationale for nudging, exploring a number of case studies where nudging has (and hasn’t) worked.
  • Develop a basic knowledge of the MINDSPACE framework and why we use it.
  • Describe the importance of messengers and utilise important factors to identify good messengers.
  • Recognise the prevalence of norms, as well as how and why people follow them.
  • Critically assess how a norm is likely to influence behaviour.
  • Design interventions in such a way that they avoid backfiring or otherwise undesirable consequences.
  • Investigate narratives, motivated reasoning, and how these can be used to understand and predict behaviour.
  • Demonstrate how beliefs can self-reinforce and how comparison with others can be leveraged to effect behaviour change.

Who is the course for?

This course is designed for professionals who are managing, building, or developing a team.

You could be a line manager or team leader, or simply looking to better understand customer needs and motivations.

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.

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  • Experience the power of social learning, and get inspired by an international network of learners
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