Walter Dill Scott (1869-1955)
Walter Dill Scott was born on a farm near the town of Cooksville, Illinois.
As a child, Scott’s father was ill, therefore all the responsibility of running the farm was put on the young Walter’s shoulders. While plowing a field one afternoon, he had the idea about work efficiency.
Scott realized that if he was going to accomplish anything, he would need to stop wasting time. Scott realized that if he lost ten minutes out of his time, he could be doing something important, every time he gave the cows a ten minute rest. So he decided to carry a book around with him and spend every spare minute of his time reading and learning something new.
Scott wanted to go to college, but in order to do that he had to pick and can blackberries, salvaged scrap metal to sell and take on other odds jobs.
At age nineteen, he enrolled at Illinois State University. He wanted to become a missionary to China, but by the time he graduated from Chicago theological seminary there were no room for missionaries.
He obtained a B.D. at McCormick Theological Seminary in 1898.
In 1895 Scott obtained an A.B. degree at North Eastern where he was influenced by Professor George A. Coe. And it was Coe who encouraged Scott to pursue Psychology, which was a relatively new field at that time.
It was during this time that he read a magazine article about Wundt’s Leipzig laboratory and became more than interested.
In July , 1898, Scott went to study with Wundt, and then two years later he obtained his Ph.D. at the University of Leipzig. Scott then became a psychology and pedagogy instructor at Northwestern University. A few years later his interest changed when an advertising executive asked him to think of a way to apply psychology to advertising to make it more successful.
He wrote his first book in 1903: "The Theory of Advertising" and in 1905 returned to North Eastern to become associate professor graduating to full professor by 1908.
In that same year Scott wrote his second book which is now regarded as a classic in the field of human psychology. The book was titled: The Psychology of Advertising and can be found at Long Lost Marketing Secrets.
When the United States entered World War I, Scott offered to help the army select military personal. At first his ideas were not well liked, and not everyone was convinced about psychology’s practical values. An army general was not convinced on Scott’s selection techniques, but eventually Scott was able to persuade the general in using his selection techniques. Scott was later rewarded with the army’s Distinguished Service Medal.
After World War I, Scott formed his own company called The Scott Company. His company provided consulting services to corporations wanting assistance with problems of personnel selection and worker efficiency. While running his own company, he was also president of Northwestern University from 1920 to 1939.
As well as applying psychology to advertising and personnel management, Professor Scott applied his techniques to business efficiency and also to public speaking.
Scott argued that consumers do not act rational, and therefore they can be easily influenced. He said that emotion, sympathy, and sentimentality are all factors that affect consumers. Applying his laws of suggestibility, he recommended that companies use direct commands to sell their products. He suggested that companies use return coupons because they required consumers to take direct action.
His techniques were used by advertisers and by 1910 were used all over the country..
Scott came up with a rating scale and group test to measure characteristics of people who were already successful as sales people, business executives, and military personal.
Walter Dill Scott developed psychological tests to measure intelligence and other abilities, but instead of individual test he made test that could be given to groups of people. Scott was not only measuring general intelligence but he was also interested how a person applies their intelligence. He defined intelligence in practical terms such as judgment, quickness, and accuracy.