If you're in the billboard business you'd probably want to know exactly when a billboard becomes visible to drivers. So in 1953 research was conducted at the Iowa State College Experiment Station to get an answer to this question. The study involved having subjects watch miniature billboards slowly approach on a conveyor belt.
The Duke University blog also notes that in 1958 "The OAAA commissioned Jack Prince, a professor of ophthalmology at Ohio State University, to study the visual dynamics of outdoor advertising, resulting in the first legibility studies of ad copy." I'm not sure how these two studies related to each other. They sound suspiciously similar. And the 1958 studies obviously weren't the first given that the pictures below show research labeled as happening in 1953.
Update: The researcher in the photos is probably Dr. A.R. Lauer of Iowa State's Department of Psychology, and he may have been studying the phenomenon of "Highway Hypnosis."
In the early 1950s there was increasing criticism of the proliferation of billboards along the side of roads. People complained that they were ugly and possibly distracted drivers. So the OAAA sponsored Dr. Lauer to research the safety benefits of billboards, and specifically whether billboards distracted drivers.
Lauer came up with the result that the billboards did distract drivers, but that this was a good thing because it saved them from Highway Hypnosis —entering a trance-like state as they stared at endless, monotonous roads.
The OAAA then took out ads in newspapers promoting Lauer's research and the safety benefits of billboards.
According to this verbal portrait of the era,, the Toledo, Ohio, car-dealership scene of the 40s, 50s and 60s was a vibrant, competitive time. Certainly a dealer would want to come up with wild ads to stand out. Irv Pollock must have felt that way anyhow!
Note: you might have to scroll left or right at the links to see the original ad.
Ever since its release in 1950, Disney's Cinderella has been decried by critics as being as a bad influence on children (particularly young girls).
In the 1950s, Dr. John Kershaw, an English medical officer, argued that, "The expectation of meeting a dream lover and automatically living 'happily ever after' keeps children from being taught 'to realize the difficulties and responsibilities of marriage.'"
More recently, Cinderella has been attacked for the "princess culture" that it cultivates. From the Sentinel & Enterprise (3/22/2012):
Assistant English professor Joe Moser said he believes Disney's "Cinderella" is a patriarchal, cautionary tale warning American women against being too independent. Released in 1950, the movie came shortly after World War II, a time when many women took jobs outside the home because the men were away. Moser thinks some of the aspects of the film were a push to put women back into their supposed place.
"Cinderella is remarkably passive throughout the entire movie," Moser said, adding that Prince Charming didn't take much of his life into his own hands either and relied greatly on his father.
Rather than make her own dreams come true, he said, Cinderella waits for others, such as her fairy godmother, to do the work for her, and trusts that things will turn out right.
The message it sends is that it is best to buy into the status quo and that one's dreams can be achieved by following the rules set by previous generations, Moser said.
NY Times critic Peggy Orenstein has even written a bestselling book on this subject, Cinderella Ate My Daughter (2011).
To the best of my knowledge, I've never seen Cinderella. Perhaps I should consider myself lucky for having escaped its poisonous influence.
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