Historical evolution of public relations psychology in Europe and the United States



The study provides a chronological review of public relations (PR) analysed from the perspective of psychology, highlighting milestones, concepts, theories and models. It offers a synthesis of its origins in Europe and how it was imported to the United States, where it was strongly implemented at the academic, political and business levels. The foundations of the emergence and development of PR have psychology as a fundamental pillar (Bernays, 1928) in understanding the propagandistic effects on people’s social behaviour. Therefore, it seems that it would be practically impossible to understand and apply this construct throughout history without this joint interdisciplinary work, both in explaining individual and collective response and in diachronically changing behaviour in organizations (Grunig, 1976). An in-depth exploration is carried out of the international manuscripts published to date which highlight the interactions of PR with psychology in terms of public behaviour, leadership and behaviour within organizations. The results bring to light an international perspective of basic contributions and some historic gaps along the way. The identification of several key events from the past helps to understand better the general conceptual framework that connects PR and psychology. The research reveals that there is still a gap regarding the existence of a general theory to explain the history of PR psychology. Nevertheless, from a PR perspective, its psychological influence on the behaviours of the population and the persuasion of stakeholders seems indisputable.


stakeholder, influence, persuasion, history, power


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Author Biography

Rocío Torres-Mancera, Universidad de Málaga

International Industrial PhD.

Executive MBA by Instituto de Empresa - Master in Business Management and Administration from IE Business School, Master in Business Communication and Advertising from ESIC, HR Management, Foreign Trade, Local Economic Development, Extraordinary Master Award in Strategic Management and Innovation in Communication. Graduate in Social and Organisational Psychology from the University of Malaga, Rocío is also a researcher and teaching collaborator with stays at the University of Oxford and other international universities. 

Research collaborator of the European Projects Erasmus +:
ARTCademy. Arts & Traditional Crafts Academy
OERCRAFT. OER- Open Educational Resources
FAIRFOOD. Fair Food for a Smart Life
CARE, (Consumer Awareness for Responsibility towards Environment)

Competitive grant of the Margarita Salas Re-qualification Aid of the Ministry of Universities and the European Union - NextGeneration UE 2022-2024.




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