Diversity in Advertising: Broadening the Scope of Research Directions

By Jerome D. Williams; Wei-Na Lee et al. | Go to book overview

CHAPTER TWO
Science for Sale: Psychology's
Earliest Adventures in American
Advertising
Ludy T. Benjamin, Jr.
Texas A&M University

It is estimated that morethan half of the world's psychologists todaylive andwork in the United States, and morethan half of those areemployed outside of the colleges and universities wherethescience of psychologybegan. Most of the se applied psychologists work inclinical and counseling settings, but approximately one third of the m areemployedin business andindustry. This chapterdescribes the origins of psychology inservice to the world of business throughits point of initial entry, the application of the new scientific psychology to the world of advertising, an applied field that began morethan 100 years ago.

When the fledgling science of psychology with its newlaboratories and shiny brass instruments was beginning to try its wings in the late nineteenth century, the re were those psychologists who were eager to put the ir science to the ultimate test of application to real-world problems. The initial applications were ineducation, principally studies on teacher training and curriculum design, and, in business, studies on advertising.

That psychology'sentry in the field of business was through advertising was no random event. The Advertising industry, whichbegan in America in the secondhalf of the 19th century, was under going a transformation as the new century dawned. Advertisers, who hadlong been content to describetheir products mostly forlocal markets, werenowlooking at expanded markets madeavailable by the growth of the railroad and the telegraph, by the rise of national magazines, by the capacity for surplus production. Business historians Bryant and Dethloff (1990) described that metamorphosisas follows:

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