On Air: Harold Lasswell, NBC Radio, and the Psychotherapy Program for the American Masses


ACLS Project Development Grants


Political Science and Women's and Gender Studies


In 1939 and 1940, the National Broadcasting Corporation commissioned the renowned political scientist Harold Lasswell to produce "Human Nature in Action", a radio program designed to prevent political unrest by surreptitiously habituating listeners to the psychological pressures of American life. In uncovering the archives of the show, "On Air" not only explains why Lasswell and NBC believed "Human Nature in Action" could accomplish this aim. It also sheds light on the broader efforts of the social sciences – both then and now – to insulate American democracy from what is feared to be its own unruly and even irrational nature.