Minor Influencing People: The Psychology of Decisions and Persuasion

Verbredende minor
10 weken

Minor Influencing People


The course is composed of three complementary modules:

The first module focuses on psychological theories of human behavior, with the goal of understanding the complexity of people’s decisions and the heuristics they use to navigate through such decisions. We will complement studying theories with classroom experiments that explicate how people’s decisions are biased by normatively irrelevant factors. You will obtain actionable insights to influence such decisions and to prevent other people from influencing you. The knowledge acquired in this module is fundamental to designing the influencing campaign that is the main focus of the next module.

The second module progressively shifts away from studying theories about human behavior and towards applying such theories in the real world. Classes will include practical aspects of designin, conducting, and testing the effectiveness of an influencing campaign. We will have classroom presentations of the proposed campaigns, in which groups will try to persuade the audience of the importance and validity of their campaign. After receiving feedback from your classmates and from the instructors, you will move on to the field to test your campaign.

Whereas the first and second modules concern individual behavior, the third and last module focuses on interactive situations, in which all parties have separate, and often conflicting, interest to pursue. Through a mixture of class discussions and exercises, you will learn how to tacitly and explicitly negotiate with an opponent in order to achieve the best possible outcome for you. During this module you will also prepare the final report of your influencing campaign.

Learning objectives

  • Interpreting and explaining behavioral phenomena using theories from psychology, economics, and marketing.
  • Implementing behavioral insights to persuade, resist persuasion, and negotiate effectively.
  • Planning and designing a theoretically-grounded campaign to affect people’s behavior.
  • Executing and evaluating the results of a campaign to affect people’s behavior.

Special aspects

Open to non-RSM students and RSM students.
Taught in English (including examination).
No specific prior knowledge required, but a genuine interest in human behavior is.

All RSM minors have mandatory attendance.

Teaching methods

This course will include:
Lectures given by two different instructors
Classroom exercises (e.g., negotiation) and experiments
Group assignment, including a proposal that will receive private feedback from the instructor(s)

Teaching materials

Academic articles provided via Canvas, Class slides.


Method of examination


  • Group assignment. The assignment will include designing, conducting, and reporting an “influencing campaign”. Students will identify one specific decision they want to influence (e.g., whether or not to recycle in the cafeteria), and translate the theories we discuss in class into a campaign to influence such decision.
  • Written test. This will be an individual test consisting of open questions about the content of the course. We will provide examples of questions in class.


Composition of final grade

  • The group assignment will count for 40% of the final grade. There is no minimum grade for the group assignment
  • The written test final exam will count for 60% of the final grade (To be eligible to obtain a final grade, your written test grade needs to be at least 4.5).

Your overall grade must be at least 5.5 to pass the course.

Feedback method
The course will rely on Canvas

    Contact information

    Gabriele Paolacci
    + 31104081715
    room: T10-17

    Faculty website

    Verbredende minor
    10 weken
    Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University
    Studiepunten (EC)
    Campus Woudestein, Rotterdam


    Please read the application procedure for more information.