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2014 Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communications, Advertising Division, Montréal, Canada
Behaviorism as defined in 1913 by John B. Watson was a science that used repeated, observable human activity to develop hypotheses that would eventually predict and control responses. Through repeated experiments, Watson developed a thorough knowledge of what he defined as base human reactions. Stanley Resor, then president of J. Walter Thompson Agency, hired Watson to promote a partnership between advertising and science, and the subsequent 15 years of Watson’s career included some notable scientific contributions. This historical study shows that these outcomes set into motion industry-wide change that continued to develop until the present. The study also argues that though behavioristic principles may not have found solid footing in a mass media environment, the current networked communication state provides much more fertile ground for analyzing message receivers and eliciting desired responses.