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 the late 1930s, the National Broadcasting Corporation commissioned the renowned political scientist Harold Lasswell to produce “Human Nature in Action,” a radio show designed to prevent political unrest by habituating listeners to the psychological pressures of American individualism. Uncovering the heretofore unexamined archives of this show, “On Air” not only explains why Lasswell and NBC believed Americans needed such habituation. It also places Lasswell’s show within the context of political science’s larger ambitions to reform American politics, despite its unruly and even irrational nature. This grant will support archival research, conference travel, and writing during the 2021-2022 academic year.