Walter Scott was a pioneer in the field of advertising education and one of the first scholars to apply psychology to the art of creating advertisements.
Scott first became involved in advertising as a professor of psychology at Northwestern University. In 1909 his interests in the methodologies of and meaning behind advertising led him to become the world’s first professor in the field. Throughout his academic career, Scott wrote many books and articles on the subject of psychology in advertising. His most famous are the Psychology of Advertising, Theory of Advertising and the Psychology of Advertising in Theory and Practice. These texts soon became classics in the world of advertising education. He was also the founder and first president of the Association of University Professors of Advertising. His academic career reached its peak when he became the president of Northwestern University in 1920.
Scott’s integration of science into the world of advertising stands as one of his greatest contributions to the industry. As early as 1901 he preached the importance of applying psychological theories to advertising to achieve a better understanding of the art while simultaneously improving its effectiveness. In 1912 he founded and presided over the Scott Company, a consulting firm that used psychological methods to solve practical business problems. From 1919 to 1920 he was the director of the division of psychology and anthropology of the National Research Journal and also served as the president of the American Psychological Association. Regarding the significance of Scott’s application of psychology to advertising, E.K. Strong said, "Scott was an applied psychologist, interested in solving practical problems rather than developing psychological theory. He may properly be called the father of applied psychology for no one else applied psychology to such a variety of business problems as he did and at so early a date."