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The Psychology of…Advertising

contributed by Emily Gainer.

This month’s Book of the Month continues “The psychology of…” blog series.

This time of year in the United States, most everyone is very aware of advertisements.  The election has dominated our daily lives through TV commercials, flyers, radio ads, yard signs, and bumper stickers for weeks, if not months.  And just when you think you will find relief after Election Day on November 8th, a new type of advertising takes over – the holidays!

In recognition of this election and holiday season, the November/December book of the month is Walter Dill Scott’s The Psychology of Advertising (1908).

cover

In his introduction, Scott wrote, “advertising has as its one function the influencing of human minds” (page 2).  We may understand that advertisers are trying influence our buying choices during the holidays.  We may not realize how much our own emotions influence our decisions.  When outlining the feelings and emotions involved in advertising, Scott wrote, “In pleasure our minds expand.  We become extremely suggestible, and are likely to see everything in a favorable light” (page 24).  In this book, Scott further outlined suggestibility based on emotions, sympathy, and instincts.

title-page

Think of your favorite holiday commercial or print advertisement.  Was it the Folger’s waking up commercials, the Coca Cola polar bears, or the Budweiser Clydesdales?  How did it make you feel?  Keep your eyes – and your emotions – ready for this year’s holiday advertising campaigns.

I Can Vote!

~ contributed by Jodi Kearns

I am so happy to be able to vote in the 2016 election! My first US federal election was 2012, after naturalizing in 2010. The 2012 and 2016 elections are historical for reasons we all know. I do not take for granted that one hundred years ago my American sisters-in-arms were still fighting for this very right.

After encountering a blog about century-old propaganda postcards against women voting, I wondered if the Cummings Center had any of its own in the David P. Campbell Postcard Collection.

Yes.

[Note: Two days after writing this, I encountered another similar story that shows many of these same postcards you’re about to see.]

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These postcards seem to be warning that henpecked and browbeaten men will be forced to look after children, clean house, and do laundry once women can vote: the victims of women’s suffrage. Women are warned about trouble with the law, being unmarriable, and becoming plain-looking [Gasp!].

Women’s Suffrage Postcards from 1900s & 1910s from David P. Campbell Postcard Collection [Click the thumbnails to view.] 

The collection does have a few pro-women’s rights gems, although -honestly- sometimes it’s difficult to tell.

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Her hero is campaigning for women’s voting rights, though Cupid seems a little sad.

And postcards celebrating Suffragettes’ victories!

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Way to go, Colorado!

It seems feminists have been saying for some time that voting rights are about equality, not domination -rhetoric I still hear.

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A message endorsed and approved by the National American Woman Suffrage Association, 1910

Be inspired! I am.

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A hundred-year walk from the Capitol to the White House

– contributed by Arianna Iliff

With the seemingly endless list of paranormal reality TV shows, you’d think we’d proven the existence of the paranormal.So in the spirit (no pun intended) of Halloween, today we’ll be looking into the Duke Parapsychology Lab, a group of enterprising psychologists at Duke University in Durham, NC who attempted to do just that. In the 1930s, their research, led up by  J.B. Rhine, caused a firestorm of media hype. Rhine believed that his experiments had proven the existence of extrasensory perception, or ESP.

The basic experiment was simple: in a comfortable and informal environment, an experimenter would pull from a deck of cards with one of five shapes: circle, square, star, cross, and wavy lines. He would then ask his subject to name the shape on the card without looking, and track how many matches the subject would make in a “run” of cards–that is, within a deck of 25. The cards–named for Rhine’s graduate student, Karl Zener–eventually became available publicly, so that you could test yourself for psychic powers at home!

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In 1937, when this pamphlet was published, ten cents was equivalent to $1.69 in today’s money. What a bargain!
Knight Dunlap papers, box M567, folder “ESP by Rhine”

According to Rhine, the frequency with which certain subjects could match the cards was higher than mere chance. Some of the original findings of the experiment were published in the Journal of Parapsychology in 1938; however, his methods were notoriously specious, and not all psychologists were on board with this purported phenomenon. In the Knight Dunlap papers, housed here at the CCHP, there is a wealth of information about this period. Dunlap and some of his colleagues fact-checked Rhine’s flawed statistical and experimental methods, and appear to have attempted to ruin his credibility. In fact, we have a draft of one of Dunlap’s papers entitled “Occult Phenomena,” in which he bores a giant hole straight through Rhine:

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“A friend of mine who has known Rhine long and intimately assures me that Rhine is honest, but not very smart.”   BURN, 1938-style! 
Knight Dunlap papers, box M569, folder “Occult Phenomenon”

Here’s a fun fact: one of the CCHP’s board members, Don Freedheim, attended Duke and had Karl Zener as a faculty advisor. Dr. Freedheim describes Zener as a “lovely person” who was “very supportive [and] generous with his time.” However, by this time, it wasn’t just Knight Dunlap that was critical of J.B. Rhine: according to Freedheim, by the mid-1950’s, the whole psychology department “had disavowed Rhine.” (Personal communication, 2016)

Rhine was not dissuaded easily. Over time, thousands of cycles of the card experiments were run, in varying forms with varying methods. And while the lab explored a variety of phenomena beyond just telepathy, eventually, decreasing interest and lack of funding caused the dissolution of the Duke Parapsychology Lab.

Nonetheless, Rhine insisted that one in forty people have the gift. Do you?

To read more about the Duke Parapsychology Lab, check out Unbelieveable: Investigations into Ghosts, Poltergeists, Telepathy, and Other Unseen Phenomena, from the Duke Parapsychology Laboratory by Stacy Horn–or visit us at the CCHP to see a set of Zener cards yourself!

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Zener cards & ESP Record Sheet
CCHP Test Collection

Contributed by Lizette Royer Barton.

Every day researchers gather materials from the archives to tell all kinds of different stories. The stories don’t all make it into academic publications and in fact many are not destined for publication anyways – some research is just for funsies!

As the reference archivist here at the Cummings Center I get to hear these stories and some are so great I share them with the rest of the staff. This got us thinking that maybe all of you would like to hear some of these great stories, so we’re starting a new series to highlight the Stories from the Stacks.

Stories from the Stacks Vol. I: Searching for Molly. 

Michael F. Vogel, M.S.Ed. – CAGS is a self-employed financial trader and former mentee of psychologist Molly Harrower.

CCHP: What led you to us?

MFV: Trying to locate Molly Harrower’s  home/office in New York city.

CCHP: What were you looking for and why?

MFV: Molly’s street address on New York’s upper east side. I like to visit the sites where great psychology happened.

CCHP: What did you find?

MFV: I found it and discovered that Woody Allen is currently living there!

[Reference Archivist note: I located a piece of Molly Harrower’s letterhead, scanned it, and sent it to Michael as proof of her address.]

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Molly Harrower papers, box M842, folder “Misc. 1”

CCHP: Were there any fun, interesting, or unexpected surprises?

MFV: Yes!  Woody Allen could have known Molly and possibly was her patient!

CCHP: Any let downs?

MFV: None.

CCHP: What’s next?

MFV: A return to Orgonon –  Wilhelm Reich’s  home/office/observatory in Rangeley Maine.  I have been there many times.

CCHP: Any other thoughts?

MFV: Pilgrimages to the locations where the master practitioners of psychology  practiced keeps them alive within oneself.  I was once the Director of Psychology Services in the Pediatric rehabilitation hospital where Dr. Jonas Salk developed the Polio Vaccine.  Three (3) Months into this position I learned from the Hospital Administrator that my office was Dr. Salk’s Office !!!  I met him several times when he would return.  He lives within me (as does his original vaccine).   This is probably why I enjoy my pilgrimages.

[Reference Archivist note: CCHP houses the  Lee Salk papers – brother to Jonas Salk!]

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Michael paying tribute to his mentor Molly Harrower and keeping her alive in his heart at 118 East 70th St.

 

 

Contributed by Cathy Faye.

I listen to the radio every week. In fact, I listen to it a lot. Mostly National Public Radio. On my weekly commute, I catch up with the world on Morning Edition. In the evenings while I get ready for the next day, I’ll take whatever program is on, but I’m particularly pleased if it is a Wednesday night, because…Radiolab!  On my weekend commute, it’s always Living on Earth and Car Talk.  It’s part of my routine. I love the radio.

As it turns out, most Americans seem to love the radio. Despite the rise of new forms of audio entertainment (think podcasts and Pandora), more than 260 million Americans still tune in to AM/FM radio every week. Why do we love the radio so much? How do radio messages affect us?

Psychologists have been asking these kinds of questions since radios began to make their way into our homes in the 1930s. In The Psychology of Radio (1935), Harvard psychologists Hadley Cantril and Gordon Allport set to work exploring the psychological experience of radio listening: what persuades us on the radio? How does a radio host’s voice or sex affect us? How long should a radio show be?

Psychology of Radio (1935), by Hadley Cantril and Gordon Allport. Table of contents.

Psychology of Radio (1935), by Hadley Cantril and Gordon Allport. Table of contents.

Radio, they argued, was a brand new psychological experience. It was different from “talking pictures,” where images were present, and it was a completely one-way social experience. There’s no need to conform to the feelings and actions of other audience members when you are at home listening to the radio. Incidentally, the authors note that broadcasters recognized this, and therefore began including “forced laughter” from a studio audience in an effort to encourage at-home-audience enthusiasm!

The Psychology of Radio shows that psychologists were interested in the effects of everyday listening in 1935. At this time, however, psychologists were not just studying radio; they were also becoming frequent guests on the radio. In the years leading up to World War II, psychological experts could be heard on the radio discussing all kinds of topics relevant to wartime, including fear and propaganda.

Social psychologist Gardner Murphy discusses fear on a WNYC radio program. From the Gardner and Lois B. Murphy papers.

Social psychologist Gardner Murphy discusses fear on a WNYC radio program. From the Gardner and Lois B. Murphy papers.

Radio talk on propaganda given by Paul T. Young in 1940. From the Paul T. Young papers.

Radio talk on propaganda given by Paul T. Young in 1940. From the Paul T. Young papers.

 

Psychologists also used the radio to give out advice on everything from understanding nervous children to curing a stutter.

Knight Dunlap explains nervous children in 1940. From the Knight Dunlap papers.

Knight Dunlap explains nervous children in 1940. From the Knight Dunlap papers.

Psychologists even became experts on radio itself, lending their expertise to studies of children’s programming. Child psychologist Martin Reymert edited scripts for the popular children’s radio program Jack Armstrong, the All American Boy. He developed standards for making the program educational and entertaining.

An article by Reymert describing his work on Jack Armstrong. From the Martin Reymert papers.

An article by Reymert describing his work on Jack Armstrong. From the Martin Reymert papers.

Indeed, in the 1930s and 1940s, psychologists were taking full advantage of radio, studying it and using it as an outlet for their work.

As I think about these early studies and uses of radio, I come back to a question posed by Cantril and Allport in Psychology of Radio: why do we like the radio so much?  They suggest that it is because we enjoy being part of a limited audience, where we can react in any way we choose:

The listener may respond in any way he pleases with no more constraint than that imposed upon him by the few people who may listening with him. He feels no compulsion to laugh at stale jokes, to applaud a bad actor, or to cheer…If he chooses, he can sing, dance, curse, or otherwise express emotions relevant or irrelevant (pp. 10-11)

I am inclined to agree. And I will remember this the next time I carelessly shake my head in complete disagreement during Morning Edition or laugh shamelessly and loudly at the really bad jokes on Car Talk.

Contributed by Jon Endres

In my job as the main media digitization person here at the Cummings Center, I have the opportunity to hear and see things that sometimes have not been seen or heard in decades or longer. This is one of my favorite aspects of the job – outside of being able to actively do a service for the study of history – and sometimes we find things that we did not know we had, or even existed.

My most recent project involved digitizing audio recordings from wire spools. On these spools,  Dr. David Pablo Boder recorded fascinating things, from interviews with people displaced by the 1951 Kansas City Flood to speeches and radio programs.

IMG_1120.JPGThe three boxes of spools in the AHAP collection

Boder’s most famous work was done in 1946 when he traveled across Germany, Italy, France, and Switzerland and collected interviews with displaced persons–many of them Holocaust survivors–in the aftermath of World War II. Most of the recordings were uncovered in the late 1990s between the Library of Congress and the Illinois Institute of Technology, spurring much interest in Boder’s work.

Boder off trainFrom a 16mm film of Boder in Germany

There was one wire spool that was never found, being referenced in his work but not found in the various Boder collections. This spool was of Jewish songs from a displaced persons camp in Henonville, France.

As I went through the three boxes of spools that we have at the archives I began to take stock of what we knew we had on spools versus what we had no idea about. Among these “confused” wire spools was the one below.

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The spool above had been erroneously entered into the finding aid as “Heroville Songs” when the collection was originally processed in the 1960s. It did not take me long to realize that the tin says “Henonville? Songs.” But this was no guarantee that this was the content on the spool. Even the tin itself seemed a bit unsure about its own content.

It took me a few days to get comfortable enough with the medium to put the Henonville Songs on to digitize – these are very fragile and I did not want to risk destroying history – but when I did I was blown away.

These are the missing songs Boder recorded from those survivors, recorded more than 60 years ago. The feeling of knowing what I had found and the understanding that I was  listening to something few before me had heard was a very different and personal thing for me. It felt like I was helping in some way to bring these voices to the present, voices that had become somewhat lost to the historical record.

The discovery of this single canister holding a lost recording means that  these songs can be heard again, they can be studied, and they can inform us in a new way about the experiences, the joys, and the frustrations of these displaced persons.

Below are several samples from the Henonville Songs spool. Please give them a listen, they’ve been waiting a long time.

Dr. Boder’s Introduction: Song Clip 1:Song Clip 2:Song Clip 3:

[Note: If you’re interested in hearing or using Boder’s work for research, please contact us at ahap@uakron.edu.]

Contributed by Charity Smith

In July 1961, in a basement in New Haven, Connecticut, newly-minted psychologist Stanley Milgram gave the prod for the first (faux) “shock” felt ‘round the world. Milgram, a first-year professor at Yale, set up shop in the University’s Linsly-Chittenden Hall—home to what would become one of the most famed experiments in the history of American psychology.

Like any good social psychologist, Milgram’s interest in the study of obedience was likely influenced by a healthy mix of both the person and the situation. For Milgram, that meant the combination of his academic heritage and events occurring on the world’s stage. Milgram was a student of pioneering personality psychologist, Gordon Allport, before assisting social psychologist Solomon Asch, in studying “group think” and conformity. From 1959-1960, Milgram watched subject after subject forego their own conclusions and conform to majority rule.

As Milgram’s time with Asch was ending, the 1960 trial of Nazi war criminal, Adolf Eichmann, was just beginning. His defense was the same heard at the Nuremberg trials, over a decade earlier: he was just following orders. For Milgram, the case of Eichmann added a layer of moral complexity not found in Asch’s study—one that begged the question: how far will we go to adhere to authority, even when it violates our moral code? Thus, at the intersection of Asch and Eichmann, Milgram’s Obedience to Authority study was born.

shock generator

In Obedience and Authority, Milgram (1974) wrote: “Could it be that Eichmann, and his million accomplices in the Holocaust were just following orders? Could we call them all accomplices?” Ostensibly, this frames Milgram’s research questions as centering on the motivation that drove the Nazis to commit the horrific atrocities of WWII—questions that ask about what those people did, why they were driven to savagery. However, the crux of these questions has less to do with them and more to do with us. What Milgram (and the rest of the world) really wanted to know was: Are we really all that different?

As it turns out, we’re not. And, as for the original “how far?” question, the answer is: too far. Using a simulated shock generator—which participants believed would deliver actual current to an unseen person (also simulated) when they flipped the switch—Milgram added an important variable to the study of conformity: human suffering. Of participants, 100% were willing to obey authority, even when doing so meant causing physical harm; 65% were willing to continue to obey, knowing the consequences could be grave.

Milgram Simulated Shock Generator Smaller

Fifty-five years later, both psychology and the world-at-large remain fascinated with Stanley Milgram’s study of obedience. In fact, his simulated shock generator is likely our most photographed artifact. In 2009, Dr. Jerry Burger, social psychologist at Santa Clara University, posed essentially the same question as Milgram’s initial query: Are we any different? With findings in-line with those observed in 1961, Burger’s replication of Milgram’s work yielded a succinct answer which, hopefully, gives us all cause for pause: No. No we are not.