George H. Gallup Between his junior and senior years a University of Iowa undergraduate spent the summer as an interviewer for the D'Arcy advertising agency in St. Louis. Editor of the university's Daily Iowan, George Horace Gallup had looked forward to a career in journalism. This summer as an interviewer changed his plans. He thought the reader research methods he found in use could be improved, and so he resolved to remain a t the university to search out methods which might produce more accurate research findings. George Gallup took his B.A. at the University of Iowa in 1923, his M.A. in 1925, and his Ph.D. in psychology in 1928. The title of his doctoral dissertation was A NEW TECH-
By JAMES PLAYSTED WOOD The Curtis Publishing Company
studies of the Chicago Daily News, Cleveland Plain Dealer, Buffalo Evening News, and many other newspapers. In the course of making these studies of daily and Sunday newspapers, Gallup discovered the great interest in pictures and in comic strips. Advertisers, and particularly Ralph Starr Butler of General Foods, seized on these findings, and the first comic-strip advertising resulted. The great interest shown in pictures and in picture journalism stimulated Gardner Cowles, Jr., to consider the possibilities in this field, and later led him to establish Look magazine. Gallup applied his reader research methods to magazines for the first time when in 1931 he made comparative readership studies of the ediNIQUE FOR MEASURING READER torial and advertising content INTEREST IN NEWSPAPERS. of The Saturday Evening This dissertation,contained Post, the Literary Digest, Collier's, and Liberty. the elements of the new kind of reader research which I n actuality these readership studies constituted marGeorge Gallup originated and the basic technique of the now keting research directed toworld-famous Gallup Poll. ward the improvement. of newspaper and magazine prodGallup's work came to the ucts, a fact which advertisers attention of John and Gardner Cowles, Jr., of the Des Moines were quick to recognize. By Register and Tribune. They this time also Gallup had persuaded Gallup, who had begun to do research on product advertising. He had made been teaching a t Iowa while doing his graduate work, to a number of studies for Lever join the faculty of Drake UniBrothers when he went t o versity in Des Moines as a GEORGE H. GALLUP Northwestern University in teacher of journalism and to 1931 as a Professor of Jourdo a study of the Register for them. Gallup's readernalism and Advertising. He spent only one year a t Northwestern, for Raymond Rubicam went t o ship study of the Register in 1928 was the first Chicago in 1932 and urged Gallup to join Young such study ever made. Gallup took readers through & Rubicam as Director of Research. For Y & R, the paws of the most recent issue of the newspaper, where he remained for 15 years, Gallup conducted finding out how much or how little they had read of numerous readership studies of the various media each item, and then breaking down the items by and comparable studies in advertising research. As category so that the publisher could see what stories Audience Research, Inc., he pretested the popularity and what kinds of features were well read and of movie-script titles and stars as to the most effecwhich failed to draw significant readership. tive methods of marketing, specific films. Soon thereafter, Ge0rg.e Gallup made comparable
Leaders in Marketinn -
The Gallup Poll It was almost accident, certainly i t was family incident, that led to George Gallup's applying the techniques he had devised f o r readership and marketing surveys to the practical uses of politics. In 1932 his mother-in-law, Ola Babcock Miller, was placed on the Democratic ticket as candidate f o r Secretary of the State of Iowa. The gesture was intended as little more than a perfunctory honor to the widow of 60 whose husband had edited the only important Democratic newspaper in a normally Republican state. As the only male member of the family, George Gallup became, perforce, Mrs. Miller's political adviser. He began to delve into political questions. Mrs. Miller "squeaked into office" by a vote so close that her election was almost contested. Gallup continued his investigations into her constituents' opinions and attitudes on the political issues with which she was confronted. He found some of the answers. In 1934, Mrs. Miller was re-elected by a landslide, leading the state ticket. In 1936, when she was reelected f o r a third term, Mrs. Miller ran even ahead of Franklin D. Roosevelt in half the counties of Iowa. By this time, George Gallup had already founded his American Institute of Public Opinion in Princeton, New Jersey. He issued his first press release in 1935. In a sense, he moved from history, as a record of what people had read, bought, or preferred, into prophecy-the forecasting of how people might act as a result of their recorded opinions. In his own words, Gallup discoverd that the sampling and questionnaire methods which had worked for tooth paste worked f o r politics as well. The first Gallup polls were viewed with suspicion. His forecasts were attacked by politicians. They were ridiculed by columnists. He drew favorable attention when his predicition proved true, that the Literary Digest poll of 1936 would be incorrect because of erroneous sampling. He drew considerably more attention and a sufficiency of less favorable attention when, along with all the other polls that were in operation by this time, he forecast victory for Thomas E. Dewey in the presidential election of 1948. This misadventure, Gallup has since said, proved a blessing in disguise. It showed that political sentiment could shift strongly in the last few days of a campaign, and indicated t h a t polling methods would have to be devised which would enable forecasters to measure trends to the very end of a campaign. The American Institute of Public Opinion has since forecast the outcome of national elections to within an average of 1.7 per cent of their actual outcome. F o r 28 years now, the Gallup Poll has serviced 100 newspapers on a year-in, year-out basis with
three reports a week covering public opinion on every important political, economic, and social issue. Under various names, Gallup now conducts three different research enterprises, all in Princeton, almost within the morning shadow of Nassau Hall. The American Institute of Public Opinion conducts the Gallup Poll for newspaper syndication. Gallup and Robinson, lnc., does marketing and advertising research for clients on contract, providing. a continuing service in the evaluation of magazine, newspaper, and television advertising. The Gallup Organization, Inc., does ad hoe research, undertaking surveys and studies on assignment. Activation Research For Gallup and Robinson, George Gallup devised the theory and technique of "Impact" as a research method. Together he and the late Claude Robinson established a research center in a converted movie house in Hopewell, New Jersey, where consumers are interviewed as to their responses to advertising. Previous research into impact had required respondents to play back sales messages as a measure of how well the advertising had been received and digested. Yet advertising messages could register and still fail to move goods. Activation, a new research concept, begins and ends with the sale. Respondents in this instance are required to produce items bought, then required to prove through answering specific questions where they got their ideas for making the purchases. Activation thus provides a check on the effectiveness of an advertising campaign to create new customers. Gallup believes that the major advance in research since the adoption of area sampling has been in questionnaire d e ~ i g nand improved interviewing skills. The real development in the research business, he f eels, is in making sure respondents know what you are trying to find out, so that the mind of the respondent is properly focused to provide accurate and truthful answers. I t is Gallup's conviction that the common man and the common woman are intelligent and, when guided through skilled questioning, can be led to report accurately on their purchases and on their opinions. He believes that "people a r e much maligned-not half as emotional and irrational as they a r e held to be. They arrive a t their preferences and opinions in an orderly way." Admittedly, he might not have felt this as a graduate student of psychology. This, he concedes, is knowledge come of long experience in asking questions and getting answers. The Man Gallup still spends much of his time talking with respondents a t the Hopewell interviewing center. He believes that the "doctor must walk the wards." He has been polling the American public
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f o r more than a quarter of a century, yet finds h e must still pretest every questionnaire. Continued participation in the actual research, he believes, is a necessity. "No one in business can afford to let a single study go out in which he has not participated in some part." Gallup's f a i t h in the respondent has convinced him t h a t there is virtually nothing t h a t cannot be investigated through the sampling and questionand-answer method. H e contends t h a t you can study almost any fact of human life through accurate sampling and skilled interviewing, and emerge with a reasonable answer. Gallup has applied his poll techniques in recent years f a r beyond the marketing and the political field. A Gallup survey into poliomyelitis uncovered symptoms t h a t medicine had not yet isolated. I t found t h a t there a r e definite psychological factors involved in the onset of the disease, also t h a t body salinity is a factor. Gallup made the first authentic survey into the incidence of the common cold and found certain facts t h a t were a t variance with established theories: t h a t people who work outdoors have more colds than those who work indoors, t h a t children have f a r more colds than adults, t h a t skin temperature actually is an important factor in catching cold. To study the incidence of longevity, Gal!up took t r u e samples of a group over 95 years of age, then repeated the study on a smaller scale in Great Britain. Results showed t h a t few people in sedent a r y jobs live to be 95. Heredity is not as im-
portant a factor a s is generally supposed. Diet is not as important to longevity a s limited food intake. &lost nonengarians and centenarians have always eaten little. So closely has George Gallup become identified with the techniques he developed and applies t h a t "Gallup" and polling a r e virtually synonymous about the world. Two years a f t e r the inauguration of the American Institute of Public Opinion in t h e United States, a Gallup poll was started in Great Britain. There are now 23 companies in GallupInternational, a world-wide marketing research and opinion polling institution. Each of the member companies is owned and controlled by nationals of the country in which i t operated. The Gallup Organization serves as the United States coordinating office on international research projects, and f o r the exchange of technical and methodological experience. George Gallup achievements in marketing, consumer, advertising, and opinion research have brought him honorary doctorates from Northwestern, Tufts, Drake, Boston, Chatanooga, and Colgate Universities. Various other honors and awards have been conferred upon him. H e has also received simpler and possibly equally satisfying recognition. The common man and t h e common woman, in whose intelligence and integrity he has placed his faith, believe his forecasts. Even those who once derided opinion polling now listen with attention and respect when the findings of a Gallup Poll are released.
Is Everyone For More Leisure? Whenever in the past a reduction of the work week was considered, someone always expressed concern t h a t more leisure would only mean more hours f o r bars, dance halls, gambling, or family squabbles. Actually, these fears have proved largely groundless. This is partly because many workers undertook additional jobs, but more important has been the fact that the reduction of the work week has been occurring when earnings were rising and the mode of living of the worker was changing. F o r example, with the move to a house of his own, the worker has found more incentive f o r a pleasant and constructive use of his leisure time in gardening and home improvements. -Gerhard Colm and Theodore Geiger, The Economy o f the American People (National Planning Association, Planning Pamphlet 115, October, 1961), p. 115.
Published on Mar 3, 2009
Gallup applied his reader in 1923, his M.A. in 1925, and research methods to maga- his Ph.D. in psychology in zines for the first time when...