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Market Research And American Business, 1935-1965

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Editorial Board

Dr John Desmond,
University of St Andrews (School of Management)

Dr Stefan Schwarzkopf,
Copenhagen Business School (Department of Management, Politics and Philosophy)

Joseph Malherek,
George Washington University (American Studies)

Source Library

Hagley Museum and Library, Wilmington, Delaware

Nature of Material

Documents from the Ernest Dichter collection include:

  • Reports

  • Proposals

  • Case studies
  • Surveys
  • Questionnaires 
  • Correspondence
  • Memorandums
  • Pilot Studies
Documents are indexed by company, brand, and industry ranging from advertising, automobiles and airlines to household products, banking, pharmaceutical, television and tobacco.


Scope of the Collection

Market Research and American Business, 1935-1965 provides a unique insight into the world of buying, selling and advertising in pre- and post-war America.

The collection provides access to thousands of market research reports by pioneering analyst Ernest Dichter and his Institute for Motivational Research, commissioned by advertising agencies and global businesses in a booming era for consumerism, ‘Madison Avenue’ advertising and global brands.

Immensely influential, Dichter’s Freud-inspired studies put the consumer “on the couch” and emphasised the unconscious motives behind consumer behaviour. The Institute of Motivational Research employed trained social scientists and used established methodologies to conduct psychological research. Dichter’s career reached its peak after Vance Packard’s bestselling exposé The Hidden Persuaders (1957) presented Dichter as a mastermind manipulator who could exploit the emotions of consumers for the benefit of any advertising agency or big brand.

Example documents include:

  • Why Women Buy
  • How to Get More People to Go to the Movies
  • Attitudes and Motivations of the American Voter
  • Cigarette advertising: the untapped possibilities – a creative memorandum on the psychology of smoking
  • A Motivational Research Study of the Negro Market for Esso Gasoline, Services and Related Products
  • Creative research memorandum on the psychology of hot dogs
  • A Creative Memorandum on Psychological Advertising of Toys to Parents
  • Cigarette Smoking among Women
  • Sexual Attitudes in the United Kingdom – Today
  • Marketing Chrysler Automobiles in a Rapidly-Changing Society
  • The Role of Supermarkets in Our Modern Culture
  • A pilot study on the Bird’s Eye logo
The reports feature a wide range of consumer industries, including automobiles, aviation, cosmetics and beauty, food, household goods, banking, pharmaceutical, television and tobacco.

Companies and brands featured include:

  • Mattel Toys
  • AT&T
  • American Airlines
  • American Tobacco Company
  • Esso
  • Disney
  • Ford
  • Nestlé
  • Kraft Foods
  • CBS
  • Heinz
  • Playtex

Additional Features

The resource also features:

  • A gallery of advertising campaigns from the companies that Dichter worked for from 1935-1965
  • Interactive chronology showing milestones in American consumer culture and business history
  • Glossary of businesses and brands
  • In-depth look at Dichter’s work through case-studies
  • Topical academic essays from leading scholars