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2014/2015  KAN-CCMVV4015U  The power of (marketing) language: How names, frames, and phrases affect our perceptions, judgments, and decisions

English Title
The power of (marketing) language: How names, frames, and phrases affect our perceptions, judgments, and decisions

Course information

Language English
Course ECTS 7.5 ECTS
Type Elective
Level Full Degree Master
Duration One Semester
Course period Spring
Timetable Course schedule will be posted at calendar.cbs.dk
Max. participants 60
Study board
Study Board for MSc in Economics and Business Administration
Course coordinator
  • Antonia Erz - Department of Marketing (Marketing)
Main academic disciplines
  • Business psychology
  • Communication
  • Marketing
  • Language and Intercultural Studies
Last updated on 21-02-2014
Learning objectives
The course helps students to understand the power of language, and therefore develops two important competences: Firstly, students enhance their ability of expressing themselves academically. Secondly, they are equipped with important knowledge that they will need if they pursue a career as marketing, communications or market research expert.
  • Identify, explain and reflect upon current theories and concepts on how (marketing) language affects consumer behaviour
  • Apply these theories and concepts to cases from business, public policy and daily life
  • Identify and discuss implications of theoretical work, identify limitations of these theories, and suggest improvements for marketing practice
  • Identify potential new research topics and generate his/her own conceptual framework (specifically in regard to the individual assignment and to the student’s own master's thesis)
  • Identify, explain and reflect upon research methods applied in these fields
Course prerequisites
Fluency in English (speaking, comprehension, writing) is required. Students should have a basic knowledge of branding and marketing communications. They should be generally interested in consumer behavior and cognitive psychology, but profound knowledge is NOT expected. Students should be willing to dig deeper into theory by reading research papers and apply this knowledge to cases.
Individual Home Assignment:
Exam ECTS 7,5
Examination form Home assignment - written product
Individual or group exam Individual
Size of written product Max. 10 pages
Assignment type Project
Duration 2 weeks to prepare
Grading scale 7-step scale
Examiner(s) One internal examiner
Exam period Summer Term
Make-up exam/re-exam
Same examination form as the ordinary exam
Description of the exam procedure
The individual project is a theoretical/conceptual research paper. The student choses her/his own topic based on its relevancy to the syllabus. The students are provided with a selection of relevant literature during the course; the nature of the assignment requires from the students to research and select further literature on their own that is motivated by the self-chosen assignment topic. Both topic and the self-selected literature list will need pre-approval by the lecturer.
Course content and structure
There have probably been many situations in your life where you thought: Did I use the correct tone of voice? Should I have phrased it differently? These questions are not only to be answered in your daily personal life, but also in a future professional life as a marketing and/or communications expert.
The kind and tone of language marketers use to frame a message, if they frame it positively or negatively, if they use complex or simple words, and how much suggestive meaning they put in a message – with their choice of language they influence our daily life as consumers tremendously. The choice of language may affect, for example, how consumers think about a new product, if people understand the risk of smoking, and if design processes produce creative outputs. And language goes beyond our lives as consumers: Research even found that your first and last name can have a considerable impact on your success in school or how high you may climb the career ladder!
Language is a powerful tool that is sometimes used with too little thought – maybe because we are not always aware of how much a single word or even letter may change our perception. In this course, we will explore different current theories and concepts from the areas of
-          marketing (e.g., branding),
-          cognitive psychology (e.g., information processing, higher and lower order cognition),
-          linguistics (e.g., sound symbolism)
-          consumer behavior (e.g., judgment and decision-making)

These theories/concepts are core in understanding the underlying mechanisms of how (marketing) language affects our perceptions, decisions, judgments, and memory.
Topics will include but will not be limited to the creation and effects of brand names, message phrasing and framing in marketing communications, language in social media, gender-related language issues, and cross-cultural issues (e.g., global brands). Students will also be introduced into the basics of the various research methods that are applied in these fields with a focus on quantitative methods (i.e., experimental research).
Teaching methods
The course will consist of lectures, discussions, group work, and short presentations by the students. In the lectures, the students will learn about recent theories and concepts, which will be applied to cases from business, public policy and daily life. Research articles on the specific topics will be assigned for reading during the semester. They will also build the foundation on which we will discuss cases in class, and they provide the necessary knowledge to identify topics for the home assignments. A sufficient amount of time will be dedicated to on-going discussions in class, case and group work. This is a blended learning course in which 6 of the total 33 lecture hours will be offered based on online material.
Expected literature
Recommended literature:
This is a selection of relevant publications. Specific reading instructions will be given during the course.

Chen, M. K. (2013). The effect of language on economic behavior: Evidence from savings rates, health behaviors, and retirement assets. American Economic Review, 103, 690-731.
Feiereisen, S., Wong, V., & Broderick, A. J. (2008). Analogies and mental simulations in learning for really new products: The role of visual attention. Journal of Product Innovation Management, 25, 593-607.
Gregan-Paxton, J., & Moreau, P. (2003). How do consumers transfer existing knowledge? A comparison of analogy and categorization effects. Journal of Consumer Psychology, 13, 422-430.
Keller, K. L., Heckler, S. E., & Houston, M. J. (1998). The effects of brand name suggestiveness on advertising recall. Journal of Marketing, 62, 48-57.
Laham, S. M., Koval, P., & Alter, Adam L. (2012). The name-pronunciation effect: Why people like Mr. Smith more than Mr. Colquhoun. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 48, 752-756.
Lewandowsky, S., Ecker, U. K. H., Seifert, C. M., Schwarz, N., & Cook, J. (2012). Misinformation and its correction: Continued influence and successful debiasing. Psychological Science, 13, 106-131.
Lowrey, T., & Shrum, L. J. (2007). Phonetic symbolism and brand name preference. Journal of Consumer Research, 34, 406-414.
Mattila, A. S. (2000). The role of narratives in the advertising of experiential services. Journal of Service Research, 3(1), 35-45. 
Meline, K. P. (1996). Truth in the Meaning of Advertisements. In K. P. Corfman & J. G. Lynch Jr. NA - Advances in Consumer Research, 23 (pp. 237-241). Provo, UT : Association for Consumer Research.
Miyamoto, Y., & Schwarz, N. (2006). When conveying a message may hurt the relationship: Cultural differences in the difficulty of using an answering machine. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 42, 540-547.
Moreau, C. P., Markman, A. B., & Lehman, D. R. (2001). “What is it?” Categorization flexibility and consumers’ responses to really new products, Journal of Consumer Research, 27, 489-498.
Schuldt, J. P., & Schwarz, N. (2010). The “organic” path to obesity? Organic claims influence calorie judgments and exercise recommendations. Judgment and Decision Making, 5, 144-150.
Song, H., & Schwarz, N. (2009). If it’s difficult to pronounce, it must be risky: Fluency, familiarity, and risk perception. Psychological Science, 20, 135-138.
Wagner, L.C. (2005). "It’s For a Good Cause”: The Semiotics of the Pink Ribbon for Breast Cancer in Print Advertisements. Intercultural Communication Studies, 15(3), 209-216.
Zuckerman, A., & Chaiken, S. (1998). A heuristic-systematic processing analysis of the effectiveness of product warning labels. Psychology & Marketing, 15, 621-642.
Last updated on 21-02-2014