Psychology and neuroscience for CRO [Online course]

Understand core drivers of decision-making 

Online course:
Psychology and neuroscience for CRO

By Brian Cugelman (Senior Scientist @ AlterSpark ) and Michael Aagaard (Senior Optimizer, International Keynote Speaker & Speaker Coach)

Course length: 11h

Some of the companies that train their teams at CXL Institute:

Understanding the core drivers of human motivation and decision-making is crucial if you want to design effective conversion experiences.

This course boils down the core lessons of digital psychology and neuroscience to a set of step-by-step processes that will help you achieve true and lasting results in any CRO project.

In just 4 weeks you will…

  • Learn how to use psychological tactics to optimize user journeys and page design
  • Get cheat sheets for applying digital psychology and emotional design
  • Establish a solid understanding of neurochemicals and how they affect behaviour
  • Take part in interactive training with opportunities to submit your work for testing
  • Learn from a behavioral scientist and a leading CRO expert

Introduction video (1 min)

To help you cut through the clutter of hyped-up industry claims, Dr. Brian Cugelman, and Michael Aagaard will teach you core lessons in digital psychology and show you how to apply them to your conversion funnel.

Michael and Brian have combined their best content and developed a suite of templates and tools to make this a truly unique learning experience. All content has been vetted as grounded science that converts – no fluff.


Participants at any level of digital marketing expertise will get value out of this class.

Emily Stone, Enterprise Sales @ Microsoft

This course is right for you if…

  • You are curious to learn more about human behaviour and what drives motivation.
  • You want to better understand the connection between design design conventions and underlying psychological strategies.
  • You want to take your optimization efforts and results to the next level.

This course is probably not for you if…

  • You want “5 magical psychology hacks guaranteed to increase conversion!”
  • You believe that building an ethical foundation of trust with your customer isn’t important.
  • You think that psychology and neuroscience aren’t that important in CRO.

Skills you should have before taking this course…

  • Previous experience from conversion optimization projects.
  • A basic understanding of UX and design.
  • An interest in psychology and neuroscience.

About your instructors

Brian Cugelman, PhD, Senior Scientist with AlterSpark

Since 1997, Brian has built an extensive career in social mobilization, digital engagement, and program evaluation. Brian obtained his PhD in Online Social Marketing with the Statistical Cybermetrics Research Group, a world-leading Internet research team. He obtained his Masters in Business and Computers.

He is published in JMIR, the world’s top e-health journal. The United Nations General Assembly has recognized the impact of his digital campaigning work. He has been invited to act as an expert advisor for the World Anti-Doping Agency, the Heart and Stroke Foundation, the annual International Conference on Persuasive Technology, and the Pentagon.

Brian’s training on digital psychology, has attracted experts from Salesforce, Samsung, PayPal, Microsoft, LinkedIn, Apple, Uber, numerous governments, banks, military, and non-profit organizations.

Michael Aagaard, Senior Conversion Optimizer, International Keynote Speaker & Speaker Coach

Michael Aagaard has been a full-time CRO since 2008 and has helped companies all over the world improve their online businesses. He has worked with everything from SaaS to non-profit and has experience as an external consultant and as an in-house conversion optimizer.

Michael’s approach to CRO revolves around user research and consumer psychology. He is a sought-after international keynote speaker and is generally known as one of the most passionate and enthusiastic people in the industry.

Your full course curriculum

Psychology and neuroscience for CRO

Lesson 1


On day one we’ll kick off the session with an overview of the full course. We’ll cover the essential concepts in what it means to apply psychology to interactive design and marketing. We’ll go over key scientific models, design processes, and tools to help you see how the entire course is structured. We’ll also introduce one of the most interesting discoveries in the science of consumer-brand relations.

Lesson 2

Psychological design toolkit

In the second lesson, we’ll walk you through the“Psychological Design Toolkit” and show you the psychology behind common design elements like CTAs, value props, hero images and testimonials. This class will transform your perspective on the impact and risks associated with each element and change the way you look at design.

Lesson 3

Human/computer relationships and trust

Trust is at the core of all influence. Without it, there’s not much to build on. Trust doesn’t motivate, rather it stops behavior dead in its tracks. In this lesson, you’ll learn how to build authentic and trusting relationships with the people that matter to your business. This will help you win trust early on and retain long-term loyalty. You’ll learn how users form trust, how companies lose it and what to do if you suspect you have a trust issue.

Lesson 4

Cognitive psychology

When it comes to winning conversions, you need to win your customers’ minds before you can win their hearts. In other words, if users can’t understand what you’re offering, it won’t motivate them. In this module, you’ll learn how to design intuitive content that works effectively within the limits of human memory systems and cognitive processing.

Lesson 5

Emotional design psychology

Emotion and motivation are basically the same thing in the sense that our emotions drive our behavior. In class four, you’ll learn the Emotion-Behavior model and get an overview of the main neurochemicals associated with human behavior. You’ll learn broad strategies for an emotional design that include pressure tactics, incentives, retention and the risk of triggering negative user emotions.

Lesson 6

Processes and tools for psychology-inspired design

Building on all the prior lessons, our fifth class will give you tools and processes for designing impactful conversion experiences based on psychology and neuroscience. You’ll work with standard industry tools as well as a set of special tools developed by Michael and Brian. Among other things, you’ll learn Michael’s step-by-step process for building impactful information hierarchies and Brian’s process for complex conversion process modeling. In addition to this, you’ll learn how to use psychology to inform your creative process and overall approach.

Lesson 7

Psychological design audit

Psychological design audits are very helpful in connection with launching new products, fixing underperforming pages or conducting competitive analysis. In this class, you’ll learn how to audit entire conversion processes as well as individual elements. This will help you pinpoint key psychological design success factors, backfire risks and new opportunities.

Lesson 8

Design clinic and practical hacks

For the final class, we’ll start with discussing essential tools for psychological conversion design and practical hacks that Michael and Brian use in their everyday work. We’ll also invite you to use this opportunity to ask us any follow-up questions you might have.

Show off your new skills: Get a certificate of completion

Once you have completed the course, pass a test to earn a CXL certification.

Add it to your resume, your LinkedIn profile, or just get that well-earned raise.

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CXL quality guarantee

  • Guaranteed return on time spent or money back.
  • You can immediately apply learnings and improve your results.

Some of the companies that train their teams at CXL Institute: