Advertising Psychologist (Salary + Duties + Interviews)

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Published by:
Practical Psychology
Kristen Clure
Reviewed by:
Kristen Clure, M.A.

Understanding the intricacies of consumer behavior is paramount in the contemporary advertising landscape. Why? Because influencing a purchase decision isn't as straightforward as it once might have been. In a world saturated with information, where consumers are constantly bombarded with ads, promotions, and endless choices, standing out becomes a significant challenge.

How can you get someone to buy a product? At a surface level, the solution might seem to be straightforward advertising or marketing your product. However, the reality paints a different picture. Not every advertisement or marketing campaign resonates with the target audience. Given the sheer volume of information and promotional content vying for a consumer's attention, crafting an impactful message necessitates a deep dive into the minds of consumers.

For those with an affinity for psychology, this challenge sounds eerily familiar. That's because the principles of psychology lie at the heart of effective advertising. So much so that many companies hire advertising psychologists, recognizing the profound overlap. These professionals, also known as "Marketing Psychologists" or "Consumer Psychologists," specialize in merging psychological insights with marketing strategies to optimize outreach efforts.

Let’s embark on a journey to understand the day-to-day responsibilities of an advertising psychologist, explore potential employment avenues, and highlight actionable steps for those intrigued by this captivating intersection of psychology and marketing.

What Does an Advertising Psychologist Do?

An advertising psychologist specializes in the mind's inner workings concerning advertising, marketing, and buying decisions. They conduct research, share their findings with clients, and elevate our understanding of how advertisements work through different media types with different types of consumers.

Job Requirements

This is a niche field, but it holds many of the exact requirements as any other type of psychologist. You must earn a doctoral degree to practice as a psychologist in the United States. Depending on their program, Psychologists may earn a Ph.D. in psychology or a PsyD. Not all schools offer advertising psychology programs, so as you complete your Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees, talk to your professors about the research you want to complete and where this research is happening. 

Different jobs within advertising psychology, like a market research consultant, may have different job requirements regarding licensure or other training related to the position. 


There is not much data on advertising psychologist salaries, as this is a more niche field than clinical psychology or other types of psychology. Salaries vary and depend on your location, credentials, and how long you have worked there. It is possible to enjoy a comfortable life as an advertising psychologist, especially if you can use your skills to help large companies sell their products. 

Advertising Psychologist Reported Salary














Schools for Advertising Psychology Degrees

If you want to go into research or any other career regarding advertising or consumer psychology, it’s time to get educated. Doctoral programs specializing in consumer psychology are available at many Ivy League schools, but they are also available online. Keep these schools on your radar as you make your plan to become an advertising psychologist: 

  • Pepperdine University (Online) 
  • Yale University (New Haven, CT) 
  • New York University (New York, NY) 
  • University of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia, PA) 
  • The University of California, Berkeley (Berkeley, CA) 
  • Harvard University (Cambridge, MA) 
  • Carnegie Mellon University (Pittsburgh, PA)
  • Washington University (St. Louis, MO) 
  • University of Maryland (College Park, MD) 
  • Stanford University (Stanford, CA) 

Companies That Hire Advertising Psychologists

Advertising psychologists may be needed by research institutions and other organizations that have questions about how advertising taps into the consumer's mind and how certain facets of advertising can make us make certain decisions. But research isn’t the only task an advertising psychologist can spend their time with daily.

If a brand or organization hires someone who helps them sell their products better and make more money, they will see great value in that person. Advertising psychologists are wanted by any organization that produces advertising or marketing materials, including: 

  • Government organizations
  • Advertising agencies
  • Market research firms 
  • Colleges and universities 

Advertising psychologists may also set up their practice as a consultant for businesses. 

The Intersection with UX Design and Research

In the digital age, the role of advertising psychologists has expanded beyond traditional media. A new synergy has been found between the principles of advertising psychology and user experience (UX) design and research. Just as advertising psychologists delve into the minds of consumers to shape persuasive advertisements, UX designers and researchers explore user behaviors, needs, and motivations to craft intuitive digital experiences.

What Do UX Designers and Researchers Do?

UX designers focus on creating user-friendly and aesthetically pleasing interfaces for websites, applications, and other digital platforms. They consider every element from the user's perspective, ensuring navigation is intuitive and the user's goals are met with minimal friction.

UX researchers, on the other hand, gather and analyze data about the users. They uncover insights into user behaviors and preferences through methods like surveys, interviews, and usability testing. These insights directly inform the design process, ensuring products resonate with and effectively serve their intended audience.

Relevance to Advertising Psychology:

UX researchers and advertising psychologists share a core objective: understanding the target audience. In the realm of digital advertising, a seamless user experience can be as impactful as the advertisement itself. If an ad directs a user to a poorly designed website or app, the chances of conversion diminish greatly. Therefore, the collaboration between advertising psychologists and UX professionals is crucial in the digital space, ensuring that users click on an ad and that their overall experience with the brand is positive and leads to desired actions.

Who Hires UX Designers and Researchers?

Almost every organization with a digital presence recognizes the value of UX, leading to a wide range of job opportunities. Some key employers include:

  • Tech Companies: Giants like Google, Apple, and Microsoft have massive UX teams dedicated to refining their products.
  • E-commerce Platforms: Amazon, Shopify, and eBay rely heavily on UX professionals to optimize the online shopping experience.
  • Digital Agencies: Many agencies offer UX services to their clients, requiring both designers and researchers.
  • Start-ups: Many start-ups, especially in the tech sector, prioritize UX to ensure their product meets user needs effectively.
  • Government and Non-profits: As these entities modernize their digital platforms, there's a growing demand for UX expertise to ensure accessibility and usability for all.

For those with a background in advertising psychology, transitioning into or collaborating with the UX field can be a natural and rewarding evolution. The combined understanding of consumer behavior and user experience can lead to highly effective and user-centric digital campaigns.

Interviews with an Advertising Psychologist

Advertising and consumer psychology are merging with different specialties and technologies. Don’t believe me? Hear it from advertising psychologists themselves! Take a read of an interview with Nisa Bayindir, a consumer psychologist who is blending her traditional training with digital marketing. 

You can also watch interviews with advertising psychologists - this hour-long interview with Michael Pham has a lot of information on the field!

Here’s a bonus video - consumer psychologist Tiffany White’s TED Talk on “The [brand] connected consumer”!

Famous Advertising Psychologists

Advertising psychology, although niche, has been around since the 1900s. Walter Dill Scott, one of the first applied psychologists, is known for his focus on advertising. He was one of the first people to recommend that businesses use a “call to action” in their advertisements. 

Ernest Dichter is another psychologist to blended marketing expertise and psychology in the 1960s. He is frequently recognized as the “Father of Motivational Research.” 

Although John B. Watson is known for his role in behaviorism, he is also known as an advertising psychologist. He was among the first to suggest that brands use emotion to sway people to buy their products. Do you know all of the Super Bowl commercials that warm your heart or make you cry? You can thank John B. Watson for those. 

Advertising Psychology Examples

Day to day, an advertising psychologist may have different tasks based on their different projects. You might find the following: 

  • Conducting polls, focus groups, or surveys to gather information about certain consumer groups
  • Interviewing consumers on their buying choices 
  • Testing a hypothesis on whether certain consumers respond well to different advertising strategies 
  • Giving a presentation to a client about how their advertisements affected buying decisions 
  • Putting together a strategy for elevated advertising campaigns 
  • Distributing survey results or studies to clients to educate them on advertising psychology

Reference this article:

Practical Psychology. (2021, June). Advertising Psychologist (Salary + Duties + Interviews). Retrieved from

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