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Neuroeconomics (ESE)

The Power of Persuasion and Influence Using Socio Neuroscience and Neuroeconomics

Name minor: Neuroeconomics
Code: MINFEW11
Programme which has the coordinating role for this minor: Erasmus School of Economics (ESE); Department of Marketing
Teaching language: English
Other programmes which are contributing to the minor: not applicable
Access: See admissions matrix


Social Neuroscience and Neuroeconomics is rapidly replacing assumptions about how people think, feel and act. Rather than looking at human behavior from the outside in, neuroscience looks from the inside out and finds that our brain does not operate as “we” humans assume, but operates according to biological hard wired processes that humans share with animals which results in behaviors that are not always “rational.” We study fundamentals of neuroscience (molecular cognition, fMRI, embodied cognition, molecular genetics, and endocrinology) in order to analyze and develop communication strategies (e.g., speeches of Steve Jobs) that allow you to persuade and influence others.

Learning objectives:

If you want to attain your goals you got to be able to stand out of the crowd and break through a cluttered media environment. We use insights from neuroscience, genetics and endocrinology to comprehend verbal and non verbal communication strategies (e.g., social media messages) which mobilised people’s hearts and minds allowing you to become an excellent neuro-based-influencer. We ask: How to convince and influence others? How do people process emotions and how to use neuroscience to convince others? How and when do people change (or don't change) behaviour and how to motivate change? What is addiction? How to detect Machiavellians?

Specific characteristics:

Every student at the Erasmus University and outside the Erasmus University can take this course without any prior background in neuroscience. However the student needs to find challenge in reading literature that is based on neuroscience and neuroeconomics.


Maximum number of students that can participate in the minor: 60
Minimum number of students that can participate in the minor: not applicable

Overview course:

Student can attain 12 ECTS (FEB53105) or 15 ECTS (FEB53105M). The difference between the 12 ECTS and the 15 ECTS is in the amount of literature offered. The literature load of the 15 ECTS is much higher and more exam questions will be asked.

A. Course work:
In the class the fundamentals of neuroscience are presented and students will be motivated to participate. This participation is stimulated using weekly assignments.

B. Term paper:

This part involves that students in teams of 4 writea paper (10 pages) and present a final (yet original) presentationfor the class. Students select a topic of interest related to economics/business economics (e.g., advertising, marketing, organizations or entrepreneurship). Using the insights gained from neuroeconomics they will be motivated to rethink and reframe what they know about that topic such that they can better understand verbal and non-verbal messages (think about speeches of Steve Jobs versus Bill Gates) which allow you to better influence and persuade others. Example of a final presentation, please watch the following YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-nM7LpqkYvg

C. Exam:

At the middle and end of the course there is an exam.

Teaching materials:

The basic book is by Joseph LeDoux: The synaptic self and by Jamie Ward: The student’s guide to social neuroscience. In addition we use different recent articles from neuroscience journals which elaborate how the different neural circuits and endocrine pathways apply to economic and social behavior. During class there will be guest lectures given by different people specializing in neuroscience and marketing communication. We also will visit an MRI centre. 


The student can meet the teacher every week. In addition the Blackboard will be used intensely.


Method of examination:

The grade for the three parts works as follows:

A. Course work:  the participation in class counts for 20% (asking good questions, weekly presentations).

B. Term paper/group presentation: counts for 40% of the total grade.  The students in class also vote on the grade that is offered for the term paper/presentation.  This is a “minor”, meaning that the student is deeply interested in and passionate about the topic neuroeconomics/neuroscience. Therefore the paper will be especially graded on its originality (is the perspective surprising to the teacher and students?), the elaboration of the topic (can the students bring insights of neuroeconomics/neuroscience to the topic?) and applicability (can the students provide suggestions how to better influence and persuade others?).

C. Exam: a mid-term and a final exam in which open questions are asked and which are evaluated based upon accuracy and completeness. The exams count together for 40% of the grade.

Composition of final grade:

Final grade (12 ECTS -- FEB53105): the final grade of the class is the sum of these three components: exam, class participation and term paper (and its presentation).  The grades obtained during class participation and from the term paper are final grades and cannot be changed after the classes are finished. The student has a chance to do a reexamination when the opportunity is provided for that during the second exam period.   

In order to attain the 15 ECTS (FEB53105M), the student has to read and understand more literature (about 10 articles); consequently more exam questions will be asked.


After the exam is done and grades announced, a special group session is arranged in which the students can get feedback on their exam.

Contact information

Contact person:

Professor Willem Verbeke Ph.D.
Phone: (010) 408 2812

Faculty website:


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