Vance Packard

Vance Packard
Born (1914-05-22)May 22, 1914
Granville Summit, Pennsylvania
Died December 12, 1996(1996-12-12) (aged 82)
Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts
Occupation American journalist, social critic, and author
Spouse(s) Virginia Matthews
Parent(s) Philip J. Packard
Mabel Case Packard

Vance Packard (May 22, 1914 December 12, 1996) was an American journalist, social critic, and author.

Life and career

He was born in Granville Summit, Pennsylvania, to Philip J. Packard and Mabel Case Packard. Between 1920-32, he attended local public schools in State College, Pennsylvania, where his father managed a dairy farm owned by the Pennsylvania State College (later Penn State University). In 1932, he entered the college as a student majoring in English. He graduated in 1936, and worked briefly for the local newspaper, the Centre Daily Times. He earned his Master's degree at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism in 1937. He joined the Boston Daily Record that year as a staff reporter; a year later, he married Virginia Matthews.

About 1940, he became a reporter for the Associated Press, and in 1942, joined the staff of The American Magazine as a section editor, later becoming a staff writer. That periodical closed in July, 1956, and Packard became a writer at Collier's, then, after its closing by the end of the year, devoted his full attention to developing book-length projects of his own. Halfway into the next year,[1] his The Hidden Persuaders was published to national attention, launching him into a career as a full-time social critic, lecturing and developing further books.

In 1961 he was named a Distinguished Alumnus by Penn State.

He died in 1996 at the Martha's Vineyard Hospital.

The Hidden Persuaders

"The Hidden Persuaders" redirects here. For the 2011 British film, see The Hidden Persuaders (film).
Vance Packard's book The Hidden Persuaders, about media manipulation in the 1950s, sold more than a million copies.

In The Hidden Persuaders, first published in 1957, Packard explores the use of consumer motivational research and other psychological techniques, including depth psychology and subliminal tactics, by advertisers to manipulate expectations and induce desire for products, particularly in the American postwar era. He identified eight "compelling needs" that advertisers promise products will fulfill. According to Packard these needs are so strong that people are compelled to buy products to satisfy them. The book also explores the manipulative techniques of promoting politicians to the electorate. The book questions the morality of using these techniques.[2]


See also



  1. "The Hidden Persuaders - Paperback"
  2. Gordon Di Renzo (1958) The American Catholic Sociological Review, Vol. 19, No. 4 (Dec., 1958) (Review)
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