Crossley, Archibald M., 1896-1985

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Archibald Maddock Crossley was born 7 December 1896 in Fieldsboro, New Jersey . An early pioneer of public polling and one of the first to use representative sampling techniques, Crossley was a 1917 graduate of Princeton University . Employed by J. H.Cross Company (1918-1922), a small advertising firm in Philadelphia, he later joined the Literary Digest (1922-1926) as an assistant research director. In 1926, he established his own marketing research company, Crossley, Inc. .

His first significant contribution to commercial market research was the creation of a radio audience measurement system, "Crossley Ratings," in 1929. The ratings determined the audience size of radio broadcasts by calling homes and asking people what they listened to the previous night or day segment. The first to methodically measure local and national audiences by telephone on a systematic basis, Crossley is credited with originationg the term "rating." Crossley ratings were followed with the simpler "Hooper Ratings" in 1946. Even now, ratings are the basis for advertising costs and program renewals. Crossley also played a major role in research on printed media through the "Continuing Study of Magazine Audiences" (CSMA) and studies for Life, Look and other publications. The Crossley agency became an almost indispensible business aid for newspapers, magazines, advertising agencies and broadcasting firms, becoming one of the first to sample public reaction to brand names of breakfast foods, toothpaste, soap, silver and other household items.

In 1936 Crossley competed with two other survey research pioneers, George Gallup and Elmo Roper, to successfully predict the results of the United States Presidential election. The 1936 election was a pivotal point in polling after the Literary Digest incorrectly predicted the defeat of Franklin D. Roosevelt, demonstrating the fallibility of polls based on sheer numbers and the merit of polls based on scientifically selected samples of the U.S. population. Crossley, Inc. merged with the market research firm of Stewart, Dougall & Associates to form Crossley SD Surveys in 1954, later a subsidiary of Westat, Inc. Crossley himself continued doing political research as a consultant through ArchCross Associates, including several studies for Governor Nelson Rockefeller of New York .

Concerned with ethics in polling, Crossley was a founder of the Market Research Council, and active in the National Council on Public Polls and the American Association for Public Opinion Research of which he was president in 1969. He was awarded the Bok Prize for the first radio ratings by Harvard University (1931), the silver medal for service to radio Advertising Award (1943) and the AAPOR Award for exceptional achievement.

Throughout his career, Crossley "concentrated on the psychology of questionnaires, focusing on how question wording could affect how the intensity of a given response is measured. This led him to crusade for ethics and professional polling standards". [ Encyclopedia of Survey research methods, v. 2, 2008, p. 170.]

Crossley was 88 when he died at his home in Princeton, NJ on 1 May 1985.

From the guide to the Archibald M. Crossley Papers., undated, 1926-2002., (Archives & Special Collections at the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center, University of Connecticut Libraries)

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referencedIn Archibald M. Crossley Papers., undated, 1926-2002. Archives and Special Collections at the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center, University of Connecticut Libraries
creatorOf Archibald M. Crossley Papers., undated, 1926-2002. Archives and Special Collections at the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center, University of Connecticut Libraries
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Birth 1896

Death 1985

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