dvertising is everywhere. It’s on TV, on social media, and in magazines. You can’t really escape it. But what does it all mean? Why do we see ads for certain products and not others? What makes us want to buy something other than what we need? This article will take a look at the best books on advertising psychology and how the advertising world works. These books will take a look at why we’re drawn to certain ads and how we can use this knowledge to our advantage!
Best Books on Advertising Psychology: THE LIST
1. The Psychology of Advertising | By Wolfgang Stroebe
The Psychology of Advertising offers a comprehensive exploration of theory and research in (consumer) psychology on how advertising impacts the thoughts, emotions, and actions of consumers. It links psychological theories and empirical research findings to real-life industry examples, showing how scientific research can inform marketing practice.
Advertising is a ubiquitous and powerful force, seducing us into buying wanted and sometimes unwanted products and services, donating to charitable causes, voting for political candidates, and changing our health-related lifestyles for better or worse. This revised and fully updated third edition of The Psychology of Advertising offers a comprehensive and state-of-the-art overview of psychological theorizing and research on the impact of online and offline advertising and discusses how the traces consumers leave on the Internet (their digital footprint) guides marketers in micro-targeting their advertisements. The new edition also includes new coverage of big data, privacy, personalization, and materialism, and engages with the issue of the replication crisis in psychology, and what that means in relation to studies in the book.
2. Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion | By
The foundational and wildly popular go-to resource for influence and persuasion – a renowned international bestseller, with over five million copies sold – now revised adding: new research, new insights, new examples, and online applications.
In the new edition of this highly acclaimed bestseller, Robert Cialdini – New York Times best-selling author of Pre-Suasion and the seminal expert in the fields of influence and persuasion – explains the psychology of why people say yes and how to apply these insights ethically in business and everyday settings. Using memorable stories and relatable examples, Cialdini makes this crucially important subject surprisingly easy. With Cialdini as a guide, you don’t have to be a scientist to learn how to use this science.
You’ll learn Cialdini’s Universal Principles of Influence, including new research and new uses so you can become an even more skilled persuader – and just as importantly, you’ll learn how to defend yourself against unethical influence attempts. You may think you know these principles, but without understanding their intricacies, you may be ceding their power to someone else.
Cialdini’s Principles of Persuasion:
- Commitment and Consistency
- Social Proof
- Unity, the newest principle for this edition
Understanding and applying the principles ethically is cost-free and deceptively easy. Backed by Dr. Cialdini’s 35 years of evidence-based, peer-reviewed scientific research – including a three-year field study on what leads people to change – Influence is a comprehensive guide to using these principles to move others in your direction.
3. Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions | By Dan Ariely
Why do our headaches persist after taking a one-cent aspirin but disappear when we take a 50-cent aspirin? Why does recalling the 10 Commandments reduce our tendency to lie, even when we couldn’t possibly be caught? Why do we splurge on a lavish meal but cut coupons to save 25 cents on a can of soup? Why do we go back for second helpings at the unlimited buffet, even when our stomachs are already full? And how did we ever start spending $4.15 on a cup of coffee when, just a few years ago, we used to pay less than a dollar?
When it comes to making decisions in our lives, we think we’re in control. We think we’re making smart, rational choices. But are we? In a series of illuminating, often surprising experiments, MIT behavioral economist Dan Ariely refutes the common assumption that we behave in fundamentally rational ways. Blending everyday experience with groundbreaking research, Ariely explains how expectations, emotions, social norms, and other invisible, seemingly illogical forces skew our reasoning abilities.
Not only do we make astonishingly simple mistakes every day, but we make the same types of mistakes, Ariely discovers. We consistently overpay, underestimate, and procrastinate. We fail to understand the profound effects of our emotions on what we want, and we overvalue what we already own. Yet these misguided behaviors are neither random nor senseless. They’re systematic and predictable – making us predictably irrational.
From drinking coffee to losing weight, from buying a car to choosing a romantic partner, Ariely explains how to break through these systematic patterns of thought to make better decisions. Predictably Irrational will change the way we interact with the world – one small decision at a time.
4. Thinking, Fast and Slow | By Daniel Kahneman
The guru to the gurus at last shares his knowledge with the rest of us. Nobel laureate Daniel Kahneman’s seminal studies in behavioral psychology, behavioral economics, and happiness studies have influenced numerous other authors, including Steven Pinker and Malcolm Gladwell. In Thinking, Fast and Slow, Kahneman, at last, offers his own, first book for the general public. It is a lucid and enlightening summary of his life’s work. It will change the way you think about thinking.
Two systems drive the way we think and make choices, Kahneman explains: System One is fast, intuitive, and emotional; System Two is slower, more deliberative, and more logical. Examining how both systems function within the mind, Kahneman exposes the extraordinary capabilities as well as the biases of fast thinking and the pervasive influence of intuitive impressions on our thoughts and our choices. Engaging the reader in a lively conversation about how we think, he shows where we can trust our intuitions and how we can tap into the benefits of slow thinking, contrasting the two-system view of the mind with the standard model of the rational economic agent.
Kahneman’s singularly influential work has transformed cognitive psychology and launched the new fields of behavioral economics and happiness studies. In this path-breaking book, Kahneman shows how the mind works and offers practical and enlightening insights into how choices are made in both our business and personal lives – and how we can guard against the mental glitches that often get us into trouble.
5. Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products | By Nir Eyal
Why do some products capture our attention, while others flop? What makes us engage with certain products out of habit? Is there a pattern underlying how technologies hook us? This audiobook introduces listeners to the “Hooked Model”, four-step process companies use to build customer habits. Through consecutive cycles through the hook, successful products reach their ultimate goal of bringing users back repeatedly – without depending on costly advertising or aggressive messaging.
Hooked is a guide to building products people use because they want to, not because they have to. Written for product managers, designers, marketers, startup founders, and people eager to learn more about the things that control our behaviors, this audiobook gives listeners:
- Practical insights to create user habits that stick.
- Actionable steps for building products people love.
- Behavioral techniques used by Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and other habit-forming products.
- New for the second edition! An additional case study for building healthy habits.
Nir Eyal distilled years of research, consulting, and practical experience to write a manual for creating habit-forming products. Nir has taught at the Stanford Graduate School of Business and Hasso Plattner Institute of Design. His writing on technology, psychology, and business appears in the Harvard Business Review, The Atlantic, TechCrunch, and Psychology Today. He is also the author of Indistractable: How to Control Your Attention and Choose Your Life.
6. Contagious: Why Things Catch On | By Jonah Berger
Why do certain products and ideas go viral? Dynamic young Wharton professor Jonah Berger draws on his research to explain the six steps that make products or ideas contagious.
Why do some products get more word of mouth than others? Why does some online content go viral? Word of mouth makes products, ideas, and behaviors catch on. It’s more influential than advertising and far more effective.
Can you create word of mouth for your product or idea? According to Berger, you can. Whether you operate a neighborhood restaurant, a corporation with hundreds of employees, or are running for a local office for the first time, the steps that can help your product or idea become viral are the same.
Contagious is filled with fascinating information drawn from Berger’s research. You will be surprised to learn, for example, just how little word of mouth is generated online versus elsewhere. Already praised by Dan Ariely and Dan Gilbert, and sold in nine countries, this book is a must-listen for people who want their projects and ideas to succeed.
7. The Buying Brain: Secrets for Selling to the Subconscious Mind | By Dr. A. K. Pradeep
If You Understand Brain Basics, You’ll Sell More
As much as 95% of our decisions are made by the subconscious mind. As a result, the world’s largest and most sophisticated companies are applying for the latest advances in neuroscience to create brands, products, package designs, marketing campaigns, store environments, and much more, that are designed to appeal directly and powerfully to our brains.
The Buying Brain offers an in-depth exploration of how cutting-edge neuroscience is having an impact on how we make, buy, sell, and enjoy everything, and also probes deeper questions on how this new knowledge can enhance customers’ lives. The Buying Brain gives you the key to:
- Brain-friendly product concepts, design, prototypes, and formulation
- Highly effective packaging, pricing, advertising, and in-store marketing
- Building stronger brands that attract deeper consumer loyalty
A highly listenable guide to some of today’s most amazing scientific findings, The Buying Brain is your guide to the ultimate business frontier – the human brain.
8. The Branded Mind | By Erik Du Plessis
The Branded Mind is about how people think, and particularly how people think about brands. It explores what we know about the structure of the brain, how the different parts of the brain interact, and then demonstrates how this relates to current marketing theories on consumer behavior.
Investigating developments in neuroscience and neuromarketing, and how brain science can contribute to marketing and brand building strategies, The Branded Mind is based on exclusive research by Millward Brown, one of the World’s top market research companies. This unique and insightful book covers everything from the nature of feelings, emotions, and moods, to consumer behavior, decision making, and market segmentation, and how to use these insights to the benefit of your brand.
9. Pre-Suasion: Channeling Attention for Change | By Robert Cialdini Ph.D
The author of the legendary bestseller Influence, social psychologist Robert Cialdini shines a light on effective persuasion and reveals that the secret doesn’t lie in the message itself, but in the key moment before that message is delivered.
What separates effective communicators from truly successful persuaders? Using the same combination of rigorous scientific research and accessibility that made his Influence an iconic bestseller, Robert Cialdini explains how to capitalize on the essential window of time before you deliver an important message. This “privileged moment for change” prepares people to be receptive to a message before they experience it. Optimal persuasion is achieved only through optimal pre-suasion. In other words, to change “minds” a pre-suader must also change “states of mind.”
His first solo work in over thirty years, Cialdini’s Pre-Suasion draws on his extensive experience as the most cited social psychologist of our time and explains the techniques a person should implement to become a master persuader. Altering a listener’s attitudes, beliefs, or experiences isn’t necessary, says Cialdini—all that’s required is for a communicator to redirect the audience’s focus of attention before a relevant action.
From studies on advertising imagery to treating opiate addiction, from the annual letters of Berkshire Hathaway to the annals of history, Cialdini draws on an array of studies and narratives to outline the specific techniques you can use on online marketing campaigns and even effective wartime propaganda. He illustrates how the artful diversion of attention leads to successful pre-suasion and gets your targeted audience primed and ready to say, “Yes.”
10. Made to Stick | By Chip Heath and Dan Heath
Mark Twain once observed, “A lie can get halfway around the world before the truth can even get its boots on.” His observation rings true: Urban legends, conspiracy theories, and bogus public-health scares circulate effortlessly. Meanwhile, people with important ideas (business people, teachers, politicians, journalists, and others) struggle to make their ideas “stick”.
Why do some ideas thrive while others die? And how do we improve the chances of worthy ideas? In Made to Stick, accomplished educators and idea collectors Chip and Dan Heath tackle head-on these vexing questions. Inside, the brothers Heath reveal the anatomy of ideas that stick and explain ways to make ideas stickier, such as applying the “human scale principle”, using the “Velcro Theory of Memory”, and creating “curiosity gaps”.
In this indispensable guide, we discover that sticky messages of all kinds (from the infamous “kidney theft ring” hoax to a coach’s lessons on sportsmanship, to a new-product vision at Sony) draw their power from the same six traits.
Made to Stick is a book that will transform the way you communicate ideas. It includes a fast-paced tour of success stories (and failures), such as the Nobel Prize-winning scientist who drank a glass full of bacteria to prove a point about stomach ulcers, the charities who make use of “the Mother Teresa Effect”, and the elementary school teacher whose simulation actually prevented racial prejudice. Provocative, eye-opening, and often surprisingly funny, Made to Stick shows us the vital principles of winning ideas and tells us how we can apply these rules to making our own messages stick.
11.This Is Marketing: You Can't Be Seen Until You Learn to See | By Seth Godin
Number-one Wall Street Journal best-seller.
Instant New York Times best-seller.
A game-changing approach to marketing, sales, and advertising.
Seth Godin has taught and inspired millions of entrepreneurs, marketers, leaders, and fans from all walks of life, via his blog, online courses, lectures, and best-selling books. He is the inventor of countless ideas and phrases that have made their way into mainstream business language, from Permission Marketing to Purple Cow to Tribes to The Dip.
Now, for the first time, Godin offers the core of his marketing wisdom in one compact, accessible, and timeless package. This Is Marketing shows you how to do work you’re proud of, whether you’re a tech start-up founder, a small-business owner, or part of a large corporation.
Great marketers don’t use consumers to solve their company’s problems; they use marketing to solve other people’s problems. Their tactics rely on empathy, connection, and emotional labor instead of attention-stealing ads and spammy email funnels.
No matter what your product or service, this audiobook will teach you how to reframe how it’s presented to the world, in order to meaningfully connect with the people who want it. Seth employs his signature blend of insight, observation, and memorable examples to teach you:
- How to build trust and permission with your target market.
- The art of positioning – deciding not only who it’s for, but who it’s not for.
- Why the best way to achieve your marketing goals is to help others become who they want to be.
- Why do the old approaches to advertising and branding no longer work?
- The surprising role of tension in any decision to buy (or not).
- How marketing is at its core about the stories we tell ourselves about our social status.
You can do work that matters for people who care. This audiobook shows you the way.
12. Permission Marketing | By Seth Godin
The man Business Week calls “the ultimate entrepreneur for the Information Age” explains “Permission Marketing” — the groundbreaking concept that enables marketers to shape their message so that consumers will willingly accept it. Whether it is the TV commercial that breaks into our favorite program, or the telemarketing phone call that disrupts a family dinner, traditional advertising is based on the hope of snatching our attention away from whatever we are doing. Seth Godin calls this Interruption Marketing, and, as companies are discovering, it no longer works. Instead of annoying potential customers by interrupting their most coveted commodity — time — Permission Marketing offers consumers incentives to accept advertising voluntarily. Now, this Internet pioneer introduces a fundamentally different way of thinking about advertising products and services. In his groundbreaking audiobook, Godin describes the four tests of Permission Marketing: * Does every single marketing effort you create encourage a learning relationship with your customers? Does it invite customers to “raise their hands” and start communicating? * Do you have a permission database? Do you track the number of people who have given you permission to communicate with them? * If consumers gave you permission to talk to them, would you have anything to say? Have you developed a marketing curriculum to teach people about your products? * Once people become customers, do you work to deepen your permission to communicate with those people? And in numerous informative case studies, including American Airlines frequent-flier program, Amazon.com, and Yahoo!, Godin demonstrates how marketers are already profiting from this key new approach in all forms of media.
13. Consumer Behavior: Buying, Having, and Being | By Michael R. Solomon
For courses in Consumer Behavior.
Beyond Consumer Behavior: How Buying Habits Shape Identity
Solomon’s Consumer Behavior: Buying, Having, and Being deepens the study of consumer behavior into an investigation of how having (or not having) certain products affects our lives. Solomon looks at how possessions influence how we feel about ourselves and each other, especially in the canon of social media and the digital age.
In the Twelfth Edition, Solomon has revised and updated the content to reflect major marketing trends and changes that impact the study of consumer behavior. Since we are all consumers, many of the topics have both professional and personal relevance to students, making it easy to apply them outside of the classroom. The updated text is rich with up-to-the-minute discussions on a range of topics such as “Advertising,” “Marketing,” and the “Digital Self” to maintain an edge in the fluid and evolving field of consumer behavior.
14. Get Smashed: The Story of the Men Who Made the Adverts that Changed Our Lives | By Sam Delaney
From the 1960s to the 1990s, advertising was transformed from a dry and business-like industry into something exciting, extravagant, and sexy. Learn how advertising came to the forefront of culture with this innovative history featuring insights into the lives and mad times of the advertising revolution’s key figures, including Alan Parker, David Puttnam, and Ridley Scott. These figures changed what we ate, how we dressed, and who we voted for and celebrated it all with fast cars, private jets, and plenty of champagne. Investigating what was bought and—more importantly—how it was sold, this is a look at advertising as it had never been before, and has never been since.
15. Handbook of Consumer Psychology
This Handbook contains a unique collection of chapters written by the world’s leading researchers in the dynamic field of consumer psychology. Although these researchers are housed in different academic departments (ie. marketing, psychology, advertising, communications) all have the common goal of attaining a better scientific understanding of cognitive, affective, and behavioral responses to products and services, the marketing of these products and services, and societal and ethical concerns associated with marketing processes. Consumer psychology is a discipline at the interface of marketing, advertising, and psychology. The research in this area focuses on fundamental psychological processes as well as on issues associated with the use of theoretical principles in applied contexts.
The Handbook presents state-of-the-art research as well as provides a place for authors to put forward suggestions for future research and practice. The Handbook is most appropriate for graduate-level courses in marketing, psychology, communications, consumer behavior, and advertising.
16. Misbehaving: The Making of Behavioral Economics | By Richard H. Thaler
Get ready to change the way you think about economics.
Richard H. Thaler has spent his career studying the radical notion that the central agents in the economy are humans – predictable, error-prone individuals. Misbehaving is his arresting, frequently hilarious account of the struggle to bring an academic discipline back down to earth – and change the way we think about economics, ourselves, and our world.
Traditional economics assumes rational actors. Early in his research, Thaler realized these Spock-like automatons were nothing like real people. Whether buying a clock radio, selling basketball tickets, or applying for a mortgage, we all succumb to biases and make decisions that deviate from the standards of rationality assumed by economists. In other words, we misbehave. More importantly, our misbehavior has serious consequences. Dismissed at first by economists as an amusing sideshow, the study of human miscalculations and their effects on markets now drives efforts to make better decisions in our lives, our businesses, and our governments.
Coupling recent discoveries in human psychology with a practical understanding of incentives and market behavior, Thaler enlightens listeners about how to make smarter decisions in an increasingly mystifying world. He reveals how behavioral economic analysis opens up new ways to look at everything from household finance to assigning faculty offices in a new building to TV game shows, the NFL draft, and businesses like Uber.
Laced with antic stories of Thaler’s spirited battles with the bastions of traditional economic thinking, Misbehaving is a singular look into profound human foibles. When economics meets psychology, the implications for individuals, managers, and policymakers are both profound and entertaining.
17. Alchemy: The Surprising Power of Ideas That Don't Make Sense | By Rory Sutherland
‘A breakthrough book. Wonderfully applicable to everything in life, and funny as hell.’ Nassim Nicholas Taleb
To be brilliant, you have to be irrational
Why is Red Bull so popular – even though everyone hates the taste? Why do countdown boards on platforms take away the pain of train delays? And why do we prefer stripy toothpaste?
We think we are rational creatures. Economics and business rely on the assumption that we make logical decisions based on evidence.
But we aren’t, and we don’t.
In many crucial areas of our lives, reason plays a vanishingly small part. Instead, we are driven by unconscious desires, which is why placebos are so powerful. We are drawn to the beautiful, the extravagant, and the absurd – from lavish wedding invitations to tiny bottles of the latest fragrance. So if you want to influence people’s choices you have to bypass reason. The best ideas don’t make rational sense: they make you feel more than they make you think.
Rory Sutherland is the Ogilvy advertising legend whose TED Talks have been viewed nearly 7 million times. In his first book, he blends cutting-edge behavioral science, jaw-dropping stories, and a touch of branding magic, on his mission to turn us all into idea alchemists. The big problems we face every day, whether as an individual or in society, could very well be solved by letting go of logic and embracing the irrational.
18. Scientific Advertising | By Claude C. Hopkins
This is the complete and unabridged audiobook Scientific Advertising narrated from the original book as written by Claude C. Hopkins. Scientific Advertising was written by the advertising genius in 1923 and is cited by many advertising and Internet marketing personalities such as David Ogilvy, Gary Halbert, and Jay Abraham as a “must-read” book.
Hopkins used the techniques of testing and measuring the effectiveness of his ads by understanding and using the principles of psychology. After listening to this audiobook you’ll never waste money on ineffective advertising again.
19. Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking | By
Blink is a book about how we think without thinking, about choices that seem to be made in an instant in the blink of an eye-that actually aren’t as simple as they seem. Why are some people brilliant decision makers, while others are consistently inept? Why do some people follow their instincts and win, while others end up stumbling into error? How do our brains really work in the office, in the classroom, in the kitchen, and in the bedroom? And why are the best decisions often those that are impossible to explain to others?
In Blink, we meet the psychologist who has learned to predict whether a marriage will last, based on a few minutes of observing a couple; the tennis coach who knows when a player will double-fault before the racket even makes contact with the ball; the antiquities experts who recognize a fake at a glance. Here, too, are great failures of “blink”: the election of Warren Harding; “New Coke”; and the shooting of Amadou Diallo by police.
Blink reveals that great decision-makers aren’t those who process the most information or spend the most time deliberating, but those who have perfected the art of “thin-slicing”-filtering the very few factors that matter from an overwhelming number of variables.
Final Thoughts on the Best Books on Advertising Psychology
The power of advertising is not to be underestimated. A great ad campaign has the power to shape the public’s perception of a company, product, or idea. The people who create these ads are primarily psychologists and sociologists. If you want to learn more about advertising psychology, this list of best books on advertising psychology will help you understand how it works and why so many people find themselves entranced by certain types of ads.
Do you see a book that you think should be on the list? Let us know your feedback here.
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