Armstrong received his B.A. in applied science (1959) and his B.S. in industrial engineering (1960) from Lehigh University. In 1965, he received his M.S. in industrial administration from Carnegie-Mellon University. He received his Ph.D. in management from the MIT Sloan School of Management in 1968. He has taught in Thailand, Switzerland, Sweden, New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, Argentina, Japan, and other countries.
Armstrong is the author of Long-Range Forecasting and the editor and co-author of Principles of Forecasting: A Handbook for Researchers and Practitioners. He was a founder and editor of the Journal of Forecasting, and a founder of the International Journal of Forecasting, and the International Symposium on Forecasting.
Most recently, Armstrong's work in forecasting is notable for promoting two unifying theories: that in order to maximize accuracy, forecasting methods should be conservative (i.e., be consistent with cumulative knowledge of the past), and rely on simple evidence-based methods.
Armstrong's book Persuasive Advertising: Evidence-based Principles was published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2010. In it, Armstrong presents 194 principles designed to increase the persuasiveness of advertisements. The principles were derived from empirical data, expert opinion, and observation. They are organized and indexed under ten general principles (e.g. emotion, attention), and those ten principles are further grouped into three categories: strategy, general tactics, and media-specific tactics.
In 1989, a University of Maryland study ranked Armstrong among the top 15 marketing professors in the U.S. based on a study using peer ratings, citations, and publications. He serves or has served on editorial positions for the Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, the Journal of Business Research, Interfaces, and other journals. He was awarded the Society for Marketing Advances Distinguished Scholar Award for 2000.
Armstrong also has published several papers dealing with public policy issues: ranging from the effectiveness of government mandated disclaimers, to the moral hazards of executive compensation. Regarding government mandated disclaimers, Armstrong argues that they can be ineffective- or even harmful- by encouraging negative behavior, perhaps by reducing the buyer’s sense of personal responsibility. Armstrong further asserts that the free market will ensure that the appropriate information about a given product is made public. Sellers will label their products appropriately, as they have a long-term interest to ensure the satisfaction of buyers. Buyers themselves will seek to find out information about the product, as it is not directly provided to them. Regarding executive compensation, Armstrong published research in 2013 arguing that high executive pay fails to promote better performance. Additionally, the research argues that high pay incentivizes unethical behavior for executives, as they have little motivation to promote a firm's interest long-term.
Additionally, Armstrong has extensively researched the usage of the scientific method in modern academia; his research concluded that the majority of papers published do not comply with basic scientific guidelines. As a result of these findings, he co-created an evidence-based checklist of scientific principles that can be used to evaluate the scientific merit of a given paper.
In an article published in Energy & Environment, Armstrong posited that the climate scientists have ignored the scientific literature on forecasting principles. Armstrong wrote, "When we inspected the 17 [forecasting] articles, we found that none of them referred to the scientific literature on forecasting methods. It is difficult to understand how scientific forecasting could be conducted without reference to the research literature on how to make forecasts. One would expect to see empirical justification for the forecasting methods that were used. We concluded that climate forecasts are informed by the modelers’ experience and by their models—but that they are unaided by the application of forecasting principles." Others have criticized Armstrong's applications of business forecasting methods to scientific projections as "too ambiguous and subjective to be used as a reliable basis for auditing scientific investigations." Climatologist Kevin Trenberth states that Armstrong's criticisms "overlooked the fact that [the IPCC reports] address many of the things he is critical of."
Armstrong extended a "Global Warming Challenge" to Al Gore in June 2007, in the style of the Simon–Ehrlich wager. Each side was to place $10,000 ($20,000 total) in trust, with the winner being determined by annual mean temperatures. Gore declined the wager, stating that he does not gamble. Climatologist Gavin Schmidt described Armstrong's wager as "essentially a bet on year to year weather noise" rather than climate change.
Armstrong has published articles and testified before Congress on forecasts of polar bear populations (testimony), arguing that previous estimates were too flawed to justify listing the bear as an endangered species. In an evaluation of Armstrong and other authors’ criticism of polar bear population forecasts, Amstrup and other authors concluded that all of the claims made by Armstrong were either mistaken or misleading.
As a result of his work regarding climate change forecasting, Armstrong was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award in Climate Science from the Heartland Institute at the 12th International Conference on Climate Change in March of 2017. Persuasive Advertising: Evidence-based Principles
Principles of Forecasting: A Handbook for Researchers and Practitioners
Fred Collopy, J. Scott Armstrong (1992), "Rule-Based Forecasting: Development and Validation of an Expert Systems Approach to Combining Time Series Extrapolations", Management Science, 38 (10), 1394–1414.
J. Scott Armstrong, Fred Collopy (1992), "Error Measures for Generalizing about Forecasting Methods: Empirical Comparisons", International Journal of Forecasting, 8, 69–80.
J. Scott Armstrong (2012), "Natural Learning in Higher Education", in Encyclopedia of the Sciences of Learning, Springer, 2426-2433.
Philippe Jacquart, J. Scott Armstrong (2013), "Are top executives paid enough? An evidence-based review ", Interfaces, 43(6):580-586.
J. Scott Armstrong, Rui Du, Kesten C. Green, Andreas Graefe (2016), "Predictive validity of evidence-based persuasion principles: An application of the index method" , European Journal of Marketing, 50.
J. Scott Armstrong, Kesten C. Green (2013), "Effects of corporate social responsibility and irresponsibility policies ", Journal of Business Research, 66, p. 1922-1927.
J. Scott Armstrong, Kesten C. Green (2017), "Guidelines for Science: Evidence and Checklists"  (working paper)
Armstrong is a founder or co-founder of these organizations, journals, and websites:International Institute of Forecasters, established 1982.
International Symposium on Forecasting, annually since 1981.
Journal of Forecasting, founded 1982. 1982-83 citation impact factor 7th in business, management, and planning journals.
International Journal of Forecasting, established 1985.
ForecastingPrinciples.com, founded 1997.
AdPrin.com, founded 2000. 2004 MERLOT Award, “Best online learning resource business & management.”
PollyVote.com, founded 2004.
TheClimateBet.com, 2007 challenge to Al Gore.
IronLawofRegulation.com, founded 2016.
Received Lifetime Achievement Award in Climate Science from the Heartland Institute (2017)
Selected as the inaugural lecturer for the “Armstrong Brilliance in Research in Marketing Award” (Hong Kong 2016)
Named as one of the “25 Most Famous College Professors Teaching Today” ( 2010)
Listed as one of the "55 of the Hottest, Smartest, Most Talked About College Professors." (2007)
SMA/JAI Press Distinguished Scholar Award for 2000, 2000
Silver Jubilee Lecturer for the 25th Anniversary Celebration of the College of Business at Massey University in New Zealand, 1998
Honorary Fellow for “Distinguished Contributions to Forecasting” by the International Institute of Forecasters (1996)
Ranked 15th among U. S. marketing professors based on peer ratings, citations, and publications (Kirkpatrick & Locke 1989)