Using the brain in business

A series of lectures on the science of manipulation in business

Course: description

Traditionally, economists assume that people make their financial decisions on the basis of rational considerations. We choose to invest our scarce resources (time, energy, money, etc.) into those goods that a) fulfil a need or desire and b) offer the best price/quality ratio. This view has however been pulled into question by resent advances in the psychological and neuro-sciences. Far from rational actors, people have been shown to employ a host of psychological short cuts to determine whether or not to invest in a certain good. Quality and utility are often far less influential in financial decision making than the subconscious psychological structures we inherited from the long history of human evolution. We feel inclined to return favours, to be consistent and we compare data instead of analysing it on its own terms, to name just a few. In this course we will explore how these new advances in  the psychological sciences can be used in selling products and running a business. In other words, it asks: how can we use science to become more successful in business?


Course objectives

This course aims to introduce the psychological, cognitive and neuro-sciences as effective tools for people who run a business. It does not provide students with means to become a better person, but rather with a set of skills through which he or she can influence the outside world.



This course will consist of weekly three hour seminars over a timespan of three weeks. Students are encouraged to take an active role.


Weekly schedule

1) How rational are we really? Everything that's wrong with classical theories of human behaviour.

19. 4. 2016

  • Introduction.
  • Statistics: who cares if your neighbour buys your goods when everybody else does.
  • Cognitive science: what our minds tell us about ourselves.
  • Social psychology: and our addiction to social validation.

2) Selling stuff with science: how to create demand for a product

26. 4. 2016

  • Scarcity: We want what we can't have, but we want more what our neighbours can't have.
  • Consistency: Because no-one likes to change their mind.
  • Contrasting: The price doesn't matter, only the presentation of the price.
  • Theory of Mind: using human tendencies to see human behaviour in non-human entities to solicit a feeling of closeness to your product.

3) Rhetoric in business: how to create a brand and how you raise productivity and employee satisfaction within your company

3. 5. 2016

  • Framing: the illusion of excellence
  • The metaphor: self representation, productivity and employee satisfaction
  • Confirmation bias: using existing beliefs to convince


Instructor: David William Mac Gillavry

Place: NC Brno

Dates: 19. 4., 26. 4., 3. 5. 2016


Price for students and absolvents of NEWTON College: 1 course = 600 Kč, 3 courses = 1500 Kč

Price for students of other universities: 1 course 750 Kč, 3 courses = 2000 Kč

Price for nonstudents: 1 course = 900 Kč, 3 courses = 2400 Kč


For more information about the course or to apply please contact project manager Veronika Koleňáková; T: +420 542 513 416, E:

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