Presentation of the ACR &Quot;Fellow in Consumer Behavior&Quot; Award to Sidney J. Levy, George Katona and Robert Ferber


Joseph W. Newman (1983) ,"Presentation of the ACR &Quot;Fellow in Consumer Behavior&Quot; Award to Sidney J. Levy, George Katona and Robert Ferber", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 10, eds. Richard P. Bagozzi and Alice M. Tybout, Ann Abor, MI : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 6-8.

Advances in Consumer Research Volume 10, 1983      Pages 6-8


Joseph W. Newman, University of Arizona

I consider it a great privilege to have been asked by our President, Jerry Zaltman, to present the Association's "Fellow in Consumer Behavior" awards.

As you know, the Fellow award is the highest compliment the Association pays a scholar. It is not an annual award. No award was made last year, for example. Nor is it an award for a single work. Instead, it was created to recognize individuals who, in their careers, have had a major impact on consumer behavior scholarship.

A word about the selection process. It began two years ago with the Awards Committee. The members included the then three immediate past presidents of the Association-Jerry Kernan, Keith Hunt and Bill Wilkie--I was named by the then president, Jerry Olson, to chair the Committee.

Nominations were solicited from the membership but attention was not limited to the suggestions received from that source.

I am happy to report that the Committee easily reached complete agreement. That was in May, 1981, before death claimed two of the persons we had selected. Our recommendations later were enthusiastically endorsed by the Board of Directors with a unanimous vote.

Prior to today, only two Fellow awards have been made. They went to John Howard and James Engle in 1980. Today awards will honor three more outstanding scholars - each a pioneer in his own way.



I shall speak first about Sidney J. Levy, Professor of Behavioral Science in Management and Chairman of the Department of Marketing at Northwestern University.

Sid has pioneered in applying behavioral science concepts and methods in marketing and management. In doing so, he has advanced thought and practice in both the business and academic worlds.

He earned a Master's Degree in 1948 and a Ph.D. Degree in 1956, both in Psychology from the Committee on Human Development at the University of Chicago.

Influenced by Carl Rogers, Sid became interested in nondirective interviewing and psychotherapy. He undertook psychoanalysis, an experience which he credits for helping him become "very realistic."

Psychoanalysis is expensive. That led him to take a halt-time job in 1948 with Social Research, Inc. The firm had been launched only two years earlier by Burleigh Gardner, Lloyd Warner and other prominent behavioral scientists associated with the University of Chicago. Their objective was to bring social science ideas to a larger community--hopefully at a profit.

That was a risky, crusading venture at the time when behavioral ideas often met hostility from the marketing research establishment. But Social Research succeeded and Sid played a prominent role in its growth. He became Vice President and Director of Psychological Research and a partner in the firm.

Sid looks back on his training at Chicago, his psychoanalysis and his experience at Social Research as "a tremendous education."

Sid is a psychologist but his approach is interdisciplinary. He has freely addressed problems that interested him, using whatever ideas and tools he considered appropriate. The result repeatedly has been new insight.

He has undertaken literally hundreds of studies of the marketplace behavior of consumers, managers and organizations. He is one of the early researchers to apply non-directive interviewing and projective techniques to learn about consumer perceptions and motivations. He advocates open, intensive exploration to achieve depth i of understanding of behavior. His approach is holistic.

His research has led to the writing of five books and some 50 articles. A number of the articles have been widely reprinted. Several are regarded as classics. He had published six articles before he obtained his doctorate. The first four appeared in psychological journals and dealt with interviewing.

His first marketing article, co-authored with Burleigh Gardner, appeared in 1955 in the Harvard Business Review. Its title: "The Product and the Brand." It was the first of several pioneering pieces on product and brand imagery.

In the late 1950's, he wrote the first of his enlightening manuscripts on symbolism and consumer behavior. They included "Symbols for Sale" and "Symbolism and Life Style." In them, he advanced the proposition that marketers to not sell isolated items that can be interpreted as symbols: rather they sell pieces of a larger symbol -- the consumer's life style.

His first book, Living with Television, appeared in 1962. It was a comprehensive behavioral analysis of television viewership.

In 1966, he drew upon years of research to put together a manuscript entitled "Social Class and Consumer Behavior." It stands today as the most comprehensive, balanced treatment of the subject.

He authored two books on promotion which were nonconventional in that they presented a behavioral description of the process and the effects of communication.

He teamed with Phil Kotler to write "Broadening the Concept of Marketing," an article which won a Journal of Marketing award in 1969.

Last year, he authored a piece entitled "Interpreting Consumer Mythology: A Structural Approach to Consumer Behavior." It won the award for the best theoretical article appearing in the Journal of Marketing in 1981.

Sid's research and writings have had wide and marked influence. It may be, however, that his work in education has had an even greated impact on scholarship in consumer behavior.

In 1961, he accepted Northwestern's invitation to become Professor of Marketing. He played a leading role in planning and implementing the transition of the Department to its current prominent research and interdisciplinary orientation.

He was Coordinator of the Doctoral Program there for 16 years before becoming Chairman of the Department in 1980. Under his leadership, the doctoral program grew from small beginnings to the preeminence it enjoys today.

Sid believes in getting bright students and encouraging them to develop their own ideas. Many have benefitted from his skill in stimulating thought and his mature guidance. A number of his students have gone on to become prominent researchers and educators in their own right. For example, students for whom Sid served as doctoral dissertation chairman include the following:

Richard Bagozzi, now at M.I.T.

Harry L. Davis, University of Chicago

John G. Myers, University of California, Berkeley

H. Keith Hunt, Brigham Young University

Thomas Robertson, Wharton

Alvin Silk, M.I.T.

Sid has a brilliant mind and an insatiable intellectual curiosity. Always youthful in outlook, he characteristically has assumed that he is a young person. So he was shocked recently when some of his students started calling him "Sir."

Sid once said to me: "I don't feel myself aging. Isn't that odd?" Then he added: "But I feel good about it."

Well, Sid, so do those of us who continue to benefit from your amazing vitality.

Sid, if you will come up here, I will give you a plaque. It reads as follows:

The Association for Consumer Research presents its Fellow in Consumer Behavior Award to Sidney J. Levy for his pioneering interdisciplinary research and teaching in consumer behavior.




In speaking of George Katona, I should like to thank Richard Curtin and James Morgan for supplying helpful information.

George Katona was Professor Emeritus of Economics and Psychology and former Director of the Economic Behavior Program of the Survey Research Center at the University of Michigan. He is best known for his achievement in combining psychology and economics to create the new interdisciplinary field or behavioral economics.

He received his Ph.D. Degree in Experimental Psychology in Germany in 1921. Soon after that, Germany and Katona experienced the economic problems of hyperinflation. That experience led him to undertake the study of economics while continuing his research in psychology. He did so in Berlin.

He came to the United States in 1933 and became an American citizen in 1939. In 1946, George Katona, Rensis Likert, Angus Campbell and other social scientists went to the University of Michigan to establish the Survey Research Center.

George found economic theory inadequate for explaining economic fluctuations. Keynes had cited the roles played by business expectations and government. It remained for Katona to recognize and document the role of the consumer. For the most part, he concluded that economic theorists either dismissed psychological principles or made naive assumptions about human behavior. So he began work on a new interdisciplinary approach.

In 1942, he published a book which marked the start of that effort. Its title: War Without Inflation: The Psychological Approach to the Study of Economic Behavior.

One assumption of economic theory was that changes in personal income would result in immediate changes in consumption. Katona challenged that view. He noted that growth in consumer income and assets allowed people considerable discretion in their spending and saving. Therefore, their spending depended not only on their ability to spend but their willingness to do so.

Therefore, consumer attitudes and expectations had to be taken into account. Since changes in attitudes and expectations occur in advance of action, Katona set about to measure those changes and use them as leading indicators of economic activity. That required obtaining data from individual consumers.

In order for his plans to be carried out, survey research methodology had to be developed. The survey method for collecting data from consumers was virtually unknown in economics at that time. Together with his colleagues, Katona documented sampling procedures, the fixed-question, open-response interviewing technique and the use of panel designs.

His surveys provided data on the finances, attitudes, expectations and buying intentions of consumers. They helped to establish the importance or the consumer to the economy and the predictive value of consumer attitudes. Katona formulated the Index of Consumer Sentiment to monitor trends.

After more than 35 years, the surveys initiated by George Katona continue to provide information on consumer attitudes and behavior. The measurement techniques and even individual questionnaire items he devised are now regularly included in ongoing surveys throughout the world

Katona's approach in behavioral economics differed from traditional economics in several major ways.

It started with micro-level data and worked toward the macro level. It was concerned with analyzing choices of individuals. That required the integration of psychological antecedents such as motives, attitudes and expectations.

It focused on the process of individual decision making--how and why families decided to make new major Purchases or investments.

The approach was empirical and inductive. Theoretical generalizations were based-on the accumulation of tested empirical observations. This is in contrast with the traditional deductive approach which starts with a theory based on a priori assumptions.

George officially retired in 1972 but he remained professionally active until his death in June, 1981. His scholarly career of 60 years produced 70 scientific publications. including 11 books.

In 1951, he published his first book on behavioral economics. Its title: Psychological Analysis of Economic Behavior. As his base or empirical data grew, he advanced his theoretical foundation in later books:

The Powerful Consumer in 1960;

The Mass Consumption Society in 1964

Psychological Economics in 1975- and

Essays of Behavioral Economics in 1980.

He received many honors:

The Distinguished Professional Contribution Award of the American Psychological Association in 1977;

Honorary doctorates from the University of Amsterdam in 1977 and from the University of Illinois and the Free University of Berlin, both in 1981.

Long before the Association for Consumer Research was organized, a small group of social scientists met in New York for two symposia on consumer behavior. The proceedings of the first one, published in 1955, included a manuscript which George Katona co-authored with Eva Mueller. Its title: "Study of Purchase Decisions." It was the first major study of the amount and the determinants of consumer information search.

George was a member of the advisory committee to the American Association of Advertising Agencies Educational Foundation which financed many important research projects in marketing and consumer behavior in the 1960's.

He addressed this Association at its second conference held at the University of Maryland in 1971. He authored the lead article in the June, 1974 issue of the Journal for Consumer Research. It was entitled "Psychology and Consumer Economics.

I am happy to have with us today Richard T. Curtin, Director of Surveys of Consumers for the Survey Research Center at the University of Michigan. He will accept the award for George Katona.

The plaque is inscribed as follows:

The Association for Consumer Research presents its Fellow in Consumer Behavior award to George Katona for his innovative joining of Psychology and Economics for new insight into consumer behavior.



As you know, the ACR Conference in St. Louis last October was dedicated to Robert Ferber who had died a month earlier.

At that conference, Hal Kassarjian eloquently delivered a fitting tribute which expressed our feelings of respect and warmth for Bob and recounted his numerous contributions. Therefore, I shall not go into detail today. Rather, I shall briefly summarize and mention a few highlights of Bob's outstanding career.

Bob held several titles at the University of Illinois:

Professor of Business Administration,

Professor of Economics,

Research Professor in the Bureau of Economic and Business Research,

Director of the Survey Research Laboratory, and

Professor of Marketing

He was a stimulating and rigorous interdisciplinary scholar. He had a wide and nourishing influence on the study of consumer behavior. It came from his roles as researcher, editor and leader in professional association activities.

He supervised 16 doctoral dissertations at the University of Illinois.

He authored, co-authored or edited 150 scholarly publications. He was a major contributor in research methodology and consumer behavior.

He founded the Survey Research Laboratory at the University of Illinois.

He was the first Editor of the Journal of Marketing Research.

He was instrumental in the launching of the Journal of Consumer Research. He was Chairman of the journal's Policy Board from the beginning until he became its second Editor.

He held important editorial positions for the American Marketing Association, American Statistical Association and the American Economic Association.

He had been President of the American Marketing Association.

He had received many honors. They included:

The Alpha Kappa Psi Award for the best article in the Journal of Marketing in 1955-56;

The Ford Foundation Master Scholar Award, 1963;

The Hall of Fame in Distribution Award, 1964;

Honorary membership in the American Psychological Association, 1966;

The Charles Coolidge Parlin Award, 1972;

and The American Statistical Association Fellow Award.

Today we take pride in adding the ACR Fellow in Consumer Behavior Award.

To accept the award for Bob, we are honored to have with us Marianne Ferber. Bob's wife. Marianne, if you will come forward.

The plaque is inscribed as follows:

The Association for Consumer Research presents its Fellow in Consumer Behavior Award to Robert Ferber for his scholarly contributions to consumer behavior as researcher, writer and editor.



Joseph W. Newman, University of Arizona


NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 10 | 1983

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