This concentration is applicable to any career where identifying an audience and communicating effectively to engage and influence behavior across media platforms is a key requirement. Among them, but not exclusively, are: educational technology development, online course development, behavior change technology (healthcare and lifestyle apps), brand development and extension, public service messaging, corporate social responsibility programs, social marketing, traditional marketing, public relations, nonprofit fundraising, political campaigns, political influence, media literacy, social advocacy projects, entertainment strategies, user experience and social media strategy and development.

Why Brand Psychology and Audience Engagement?

Students completing the concentration expand their theoretical background and knowledge. They develop theoretically-based strategies and create media projects based on the following areas:

  • Narrative psychology, story structure, archetypes
  • Cognitive psychology of meaning making, schemas and symbols
  • Persuasion and social influence
  • Group dynamics, affiliation and social identity
  • Emotional engagement, polyvagal theories, attachment theory
  • Motivational theories of needs, goals and intrinsic/extrinsic drivers

From an applied perspective: students analyze and develop transmedia storytelling strategies, create psychologically-based personas, empirically test and adjust personas to create engagement strategies, design digital participatory environments, apply narrative and cognitive theories to the creation of engaging media.

Required Courses:

  • MSC 566 Brand Psychology and Social Storytelling
    • This course combines the cognitive and narrative psychologies of branding and storytelling with the power of social psychology to engage customers, promote ideas and influence behaviors across media technology platforms. Creating and applying transmedia storytelling to messaging is a complex proposition that demands the integration of multiple elements: the media environment, narrative structure and meaning, audience psychology, media and technology attributes, audience targeting, and process management and evaluation. Storytelling in the new media environment demands a new approach to building stories and storyworlds that create an immersive experience.  The ability to apply theory to practice is becoming the standard because it increases profitability, sustainability and engagement.  Social impact comes from a robust, integrative and vibrant campaign that extends reach in an increasingly fractured environment.
  • MSC 568 Audience Profiling through Persona Development
    • People have high expectations thanks to the ubiquity of technology, real time data, 24/7 connectivity and social media. Audience profiling allows us to identify and understand the audience, to be sensitive to their individual differences and cultural context. This allows to be able to create satisfying and engaging user messages, services, and products. It is equally important in order to develop strategies that use resources wisely. Every individual has a story. We use the persona development process to identify the audience’s story. This course teaches psychology by deconstructing human behavior into meaning, identity, perception and motivation. Using qualitative research, semiotic and narrative analysis, and frame analysis, students develop a persona that can inform communication and content development and supports a wide range of applications, including user experience, education, social advocacy, political influence, marketing strategy, fundraising, design, campaigning and recruitment.
  • PSY-685 Research Practicum 0.5-4 semester credits
    • This would be designed to focus research on a specific research or dissertation question consistent with the concentration. This may be taken concurrent with the Media Qualifying Exam (QE) or in the first term of dissertation research.


  • A dissertation focused on a topic relevant to brand psychology and audience engagement.