The Psychology of Consumer Choices

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Psychology is the study of human behavior and plays a large role when studying consumer behavior.  The part that  psychology plays in consumer decisions can be seen when it comes to buying a product. We have emotional and rational sides to our personalities and both of those sides are targeted by marketers to influence consumers’ purchase decisions.

Our emotional states vary depending on the product. Some products just have that emotional value to people because of the brand. Consumers who are emotionally attached to the brand value they see in the product make the purchase without too much advertising and marketing really needing to be done. Some brands do not have the same emotional appeal as others, but marketers can brand the product so that it becomes an emotional appeal to consumers.

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs demonstrates what it is that motivates people. Based on circumstances and situations, people’s motivations and rationality will change. Thus, you would want to make sure that you are planning your advertising and marketing decisions around your target consumers’ current situations. You can base it on looking at what your consumers’ top priorities are at that time. Situations and circumstances include getting a new job, starting college, having kids, or getting married. These things could change a consumer’s priorities and, thus, their motivations.

Marketing becomes very important once a consumer decides that they are in the market and searching for a specific product. Differentiation plays a vital role at this point because they need to be able to make a distinction between products that are very similar. Emotional and rational factors will be debated here while the consumer makes their final purchasing decision. Advertising and marketing messages will be the most effective at this point.


To the right is a picture that Emily took of me with the Penn State Nittany Lion! As a college student, I definitely take more factors into consideration when buying something than I used to.

The value that a consumer places on an advertising message depends on their own experiences and views. Understanding psychology and how it influences consumer decisions in the purchasing process can help you to better market and advertise your product. I personally find psychology very interesting and hope to be able to use it in my future as I pursue a career in advertising.


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