Date of Award

Spring 1964

Document Type



Business, Accounting & Economics

First Advisor

Luke Rivers


Twenty years ago this thesis need not have been written. Psychological advertising was but a gleam in the eye of a farsighted few; as a selling technique it was ignored by serious businessmen. The volume of marketable goods In our pre-war economy was not of sufficient quantity to warrant any significant changes In advertising technique.

After World War II, however, our vast industrial complex turned from the manufacture of war goods to the production of consumer items. Advertisers soon discovered that their old standby techniques were inadequate to prevent the market from becoming glutted with unwanted, unsellable products.

The basic problem was not that of overproduction, but underconsumption. Although there was indeed a huge Increase in the volume of consumer production after the war, there was also a corresponding increase In the amount of "discretionary dollars" which Americans had accumulated because of the wartime scarcity of consumer goods, extra wages for overtime, and such. War-wary citizens were hoarding their money instead of spending It. Worried advertisers groped for a means to reverse this trend. So it was that psychology wed advertising in a hasty, "shotgun" marriage; motivation research was the awesome offspring of that union.

The purpose of this thesis is fourfold: first, to discuss briefly the history of advertising, so as to better understand motivation research; second, to acquaint the public with the phenomena of motivation research, Its theory and practice; third, to determine the effects of motivation research upon our economic society; fourth, to describe the Internal and external actions which have been taken to subordinate the aims of motivation research to the common good.

An assiduous effort has been made to exclude personal value judgments as regards the ethics, morality, or value of motivation research. Any such conclusions have been made, to the best of my ability, on the basis of data garnered from experts in the study of modern advertising. Motivation research is dynamic; it is controversial. Therefore It is my hope that this thesis will serve as an introduction to one of the most fascinating fields of our time--psychological advertising.