In 1937, as a student in high school in Princeton, New Jersey, Mervin Field first became infected with the concept and activity of survey research when in a chance occurrence he was introduced to the polling pioneer, Dr. George Gallup. Soon after, Mr. Field conducted his first poll which measured student preferences during the school’s senior class presidency campaign.
He attended Rutgers University and the University of Missouri in 1939 and 1940. He worked for Opinion Research Corporation and the Gallup Poll in various capacities in 1941 and part of 1942. During World War II, Mr. Field served in the U.S. Merchant Marine in the European and South Pacific theaters of operations. That three-year period of service allowed him considerable time to pursue a course of self study in various technical aspects of survey methods.
Mr. Field founded Field Research Corporation (FRC) in 1946, and The Field (California) Poll in 1947. The Field Poll is a unique continuing public opinion news service, widely recognized as an authoritative source of public opinion utilizing sophisticated survey methodology. Since 1947, The Field Poll has published over 2,000 reports on a wide variety of political, social and public policy issues. In 1976 Mr. Field established The Field Institute, which took over The Field Poll’s operations. The Field Institute is a non-partisan, not-for-profit public policy research organization financially supported by academic institutions, government agencies, foundations, and various media.
Since 1956 The Field Poll and The Field Institute have maintained a continuing relationship with the University of California and California State University campuses, wherein all of its survey data is regularly deposited. This extensive and continually growing body of survey data has become an invaluable resource for scholars and public policy makers. It is a unique and rich archive that is used in political science, journalism, sociology and survey research courses.
FRC and The Field Institute now comprise one of the largest survey research centers with headquarters in the West, conducting regional, national and international surveys. FRC has a permanent staff of over fifty professional and operations people and also employs a large contingent of part-time interviewers.
During his long career Mervin Field has had the ultimate responsibility in the conduct and direction of more than 500 different substantive custom designed marketing, consumer and public opinion research projects. His principles, values and beliefs continue to provide the foundation for FRC’s basic philosophy: conduct good research, enjoy doing it and don’t compromise on quality.
He has written, lectured and spoken extensively on many business and public policy issues as well as various aspects of survey methodology. Mr. Field has directed numerous studies that have been introduced in U.S. District and other Courts and where he has offered expert testimony on a variety of business and governmental practices. He has appeared frequently as an expert witness before House, Senate, and California State legislative committees as well as federal and state regulatory agencies.
He has received numerous professional citations and awards. Two of these awards were from the American Marketing Association. One was in 1956 for his “Field Index of Advertising Efficiency” and another in 1971 for his “Outstanding Service to the Profession of Marketing Research.”
Mr. Field was recipient of the 1979 American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR) Award for “exceptionally distinguished achievement”. The citation accompanying the award said in part… “Mervin Field has been chief architect of and a successful campaigner for a contemporary code of standards for public opinion research. He is a professional who seems to have always known that high quality work demands a comparable level of personal and corporate conduct. He is a model for the businessman in research, a distinguished political analyst, and the conscience of a profession…”
Mr. Field has held offices in the American Marketing Association and the American Association for Public Opinion Research. He helped establish the National Council of Published Polls, and is one of the founding directors of the Council of American Survey Research Organizations and a former director of the Advertising Research Foundation. He is a member of the Advisory Council to Roper Center at the University of Connecticut, the National Advisory Council of The Institute of Governmental Studies, U.C. Berkeley, the New York Market Research Council, European Society of Market Research and the World Association for Public Opinion Research.