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Behaviour Change

University of Warwick

Department of Psychology 2019/20

Module Code:


Module Name:

Behaviour Change

Module Credits (CATS):


Module Convener

Thomas Hills

Module Teachers

Module Aims

The module aims to develop your scientific understanding of the principles of Behaviour Change as they scale from neurons to culture. This applies to changes in behaviour in response to factors such as reinforcement learning, persuasion and influence (e.g., advertising and negotiation), job interviews and negotiation, and cultural forces acting over history. Emphasis will be placed on understanding the research and developing a theoretical framework for understanding behaviour change. In addition, this module aims to help you identify and evaluate persuasive content and to develop programs for motivating change.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of the module, students should be able to:

  • Understand theoretical principles of behaviour change
  • Research contributions of behaviour change, ranging from Asch to Zimbardo
  • Know how to recognize, evaluate, and create persuasive messages to motivate change
  • Apply behaviour change to the real world, such as advertising, job interviews, and negotiation

Assessed by:

The Propaganda for Change Project (33%), One two-hour unseen exam (67%)

Module Work Load

Module Length

12 weeks


Three hours per week in two lectures


One 2-hour, one 1-hour seminar


Module Assessment

Assessed work:

Production of persuasive media (e.g., a 60-second video, an advertisement, or a campaign for change based on a novel idea), presenting a persuasive content message using principles outlined in the course. This should 'go live' in the world. This will be accompanied by a blog post





Module Reading List


Required readings: There are required readings for each lecture, which will be available on the Moodle page.

example weekly reading:

Gilbert, D. T. (1991). How mental systems believe. American psychologist, 46(2), 107.

    pages 69-89 of Gollwitzer, P. M., & Sheeran, P. (2006). Implementation intentions and goal achievement: A meta‚Äźanalysis of effects and processes. Advances in experimental social psychology, 38, 69-119.

    Hills (2018) The dark side of information proliferation, Perspectives on Psychological Science 

    Dolan, P., Hallsworth, M., Halpern, D., King, D., Metcalfe, R., & Vlaev, I. (2012). Influencing behaviour: The mindspace way. Journal of Economic Psychology, 33(1), 264-277.

    Optional readings:

    Optional reading: Malhotra, D., & Bazerman, M. H. (2007). Negotiation genius. New York: Bantam Books (This is one of the best books on negotiation around. It will save you a lot of money over your lifetime. Last year the library had copies of this book and electronic copies.)

    Optional reading: Gollwitzer, P. M. (1999). Implementation intentions: Strong effects of simple plans. American psychologist, 54(7), 493.