Degree Type

Honors Capstone Project

Date of Submission

Spring 5-1-2009

Capstone Advisor

Carla Lloyd

Honors Reader

Ed Russell

Capstone Major


Capstone College

Public Communications

Audio/Visual Component


Capstone Prize Winner


Won Capstone Funding


Honors Categories


Subject Categories

Advertising and Promotion Management | Public Relations and Advertising


This thesis project was inspired by a course formerly offered by the Department of Psychology at Syracuse University, which has not been offered since at least 2006 – PSY 377: Consumer Behavior. Circumstances – including that the professor who taught the course left the university and that the Department of Psychology is uncertain about the volume of student interest in the course – led to PSY 377 being taken off the time schedule indefinitely, though it remains in the course catalog. The timing of the course’s cancellation is especially unfortunate, given that revolutionary changes in consumer behavior have occurred over the last two decades.

Preliminary ideas for possible solutions to this problem were developed, including: 1. simple reinstallation of the original course [PSY 377]; 2. altering the content of the original course so that it may be offered as a Newhouse Advertising course that fulfills the “Critical Issues” degree requirement; 3. creating an interdisciplinary, cross-listed sequence of courses that incorporates the interests of several majors in different colleges at Syracuse University; and 4. eventually establishing a consumer-behavior research institute based in the Newhouse School.

Before further developing any plans, though, several research questions surrounding the situation had to be answered in order to proceed with a solution in the most appropriate way. Why exactly is studying consumer behavior so essential to advertising, psychology, and many other disciplines? How is professional consumer-behavior research applied? How and what has changed consumer behavior over the last two decades, and how has research in the discipline responded? How is consumer behavior knowledge applied in a university setting, including at other academic institutions? A literature review was compiled to answer these questions and provide crucial background information.

Furthermore, a 22-question online survey was conducted to evaluate Syracuse University students’ interest in studying consumer behavior, interdisciplinary collaboration with faculty and students, and participating in extracurricular research. Analysis of the 139 responses to the survey concluded that the majority of students would take advantage of these opportunities, particularly given various incentives (such as extra credit and resume-building).

This research all concludes that consumer-behavior education and research are now more essential than ever, providing a rationale for the reinstallation of PSY 377 and establishment of a consumer-behavior research institute. The institute is especially the most comprehensive, ultimate solution, with immense benefits to students, faculty and professionals in a wide range of disciplines, Syracuse University, the Newhouse School, and their communities. Significant, relevant, high-quality research could be carried out with multidisciplinary input, for real-world clients, with a mission to advance consumer-behavior knowledge in ways meaningful to marketers, inspiring to academics, and in the best interest of consumers. Pursuing the establishment of a consumer-behavior research institute could be, in the end, an extraordinary and meaningful endeavor for Syracuse University.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.



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