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2018/2019  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 Quarter
Start time of the course First Quarter
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)
Kontaktinformation: https:/​/​e-campus.dk/​studium/​kontakt eller Contact information: https:/​/​e-campus.dk/​studium/​kontakt
Main academic disciplines
  • Customer behaviour
  • Communication
  • Marketing
Teaching methods
  • Blended learning
Last updated on 07-02-2018

Relevant links

Learning objectives
  • Identify new research questions, that are theoretically interesting and practically relevant, and generate his/her own conceptual framework and coherent academic argumentation based on selected theories, specifically in regard to the individual assignment (research proposal)
  • Identify, explain, and discuss selected theories and concepts, particularly in light of the individual assignment
  • Understand and explain experiments, identify their strengths and weaknesses, and propose an experimental study in the individual assignment
  • Identify and discuss contributions and limitations of academic works (including the student’s own) and discuss their implications for marketing practice (including commercial and non-profit/public marketing)
Course prerequisites
Fluency in English (speaking, comprehension, writing) is required. Students must have basic knowledge of branding and marketing (communications). Basic knowledge in consumer behavior and cognitive psychology is an advantage but not a must. The class builds on the willingness of students to engage in academic discourse and deductive, mostly positivistic, thinking. Therefore, students should be willing to dig deeper into different theories by reading research papers, discussing them in class and bringing up practical examples to relate theoretical knowledge to "real life".

This is an advanced course that is particularly relevant for students approaching their Master's theses, who are searching for possible topics and/or would like to engage in deductive argumentation and academic writing.
The Power of (Marketing) Language: How names, Frames, and Phrases Affect our Perceptions, Judgments and Decisions:
Exam ECTS 7,5
Examination form Home assignment - written product
Individual or group exam Individual exam
Size of written product Max. 15 pages
Assignment type Project
Duration Written product to be submitted on specified date and time.
Grading scale 7-step scale
Examiner(s) One internal examiner
Exam period Autumn
Make-up exam/re-exam
Same examination form as the ordinary exam
* if the student fails the ordinary exam the course coordinator chooses whether the student will have to hand in a revised product for the re- take or a new project.
Description of the exam procedure

The individual project is a research proposal. The student choses her/his own topic and develops his/her own research question based on its relevancy to the syllabus, i.e. the chosen topic must be closely connected 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 and research question. Students will not collect data, but will have to suggest and describe an experiment in their research proposal.

Course content and structure

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 -- influences our daily lives 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, or if they perceive a brand as luxurious. 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 learn about selected current theories and concepts from the areas of
-          marketing (e.g., branding, communications),
-          cognitive psychology (e.g., information processing),
-          linguistics (e.g., sound symbolism)
-          consumer behavior (e.g., judgment and decision-making)

These theories and concepts are core in understanding the underlying mechanisms of how (marketing) language affects our perceptions, decisions, judgments, and memory as consumers.

Topics will include but will not be limited to the creation and effects of brand names, valence framing (positive vs. negative framing), consumer-brand interactions in social media, gender-related language issues, and brand storytelling.


Introduction to experimental research:

Research in this area follows largely deductive, positivistic thinking and argumentation, and data collection is dominated by experiments. It is therefore necessary to introduce students to both the basics of deductive argumentation and hypothesis building and the basics of experiments. Students will not have to collect data, but will have to propose a suitable experiment to answer their suggested research question in their research proposal.



Description of the teaching methods
This course is a blended learning course in which 18 out of 33 lecture hours will be offered based on online interactions or teaching material through the LEARN platform. Online engagements will alternate between online exercises and online lectures or can consist of both.

Generally, the course follows the principle of a flipped classroom: Offline lectures will be primarily used for discussions and reflections of the material rather than for front lecturing. Front lecturing may occur only if need be. Therefore, it is highly crucial for students to prepare the assigned literature and online material before attending offline lectures or before participating in offline and online exercises. Only then is it possible to facilitate an in-depth discussion and deepen students' knowledge of the subject.

As students are free to choose their own topic within the syllabus of the course, students should be prepared to read into relevant literature on their own in advance, i.e., before it is the topic's turn on the course agenda.
Feedback during the teaching period
Students should be prepared to work independently on their research questions for the written assignment (research proposal) from the beginning of the course. This may also include reading into topics that may only be discussed later in the course. The teacher is available for individual feedback during offline classes and office hours throughout the course. It is recommended that students start working on their individual assignments as early as possible and take responsibility for contacting the teacher in case of questions.

Feedback to online and offline exercises (individual and group) will be given orally or in written.

There will be an online peer assessment towards the end of the course, during which the students will receive individual feedback from their peers and collective feedback from the teacher regarding their research questions. Based on this assessment, the teacher will also evaluate individually if each student's research question lies within the course scope.
Student workload
Preparation 123 hours
Teaching 33 hours
Exam 50 hours
Expected literature

Recommended literature:
This is only an illustrative selection of relevant literature. Assigned literature will mainly consist of journal articles to be downloaded from the library/Google scholar. The complete syllabus will be available on Learn approximately two weeks before course start. 

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.
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.

Last updated on 07-02-2018