James A. Bayton, 78, a retired professor of psychology at Howard University who specialized in marketing research and race relations, died of cardiac arrest Aug. 4 at Howard University Hospital.

Dr. Bayton, a resident of Washington, joined the faculty at Howard in 1947. He was a full professor and served for a time as chairman of the psychology department. He formally retired in 1975, but continued teaching until earlier this year.

As a businessman, he was named research director of National Analysts Inc., a Philadelphia marketing research company, in 1954. He continued that work until the early 1960s. He then did similar work for Alfred Politz Research Inc. of New York and Chilton Research Services of Pennsylvania. He stayed with those companies until the early 1970s.

In 1967 and 1968, Dr. Bayton was a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, where he worked on a book called "Tension in the Cities" about the civil disorders of the 1960s. He also published numerous studies on black and white racial attitudes, and he did a number of projects for the government and various corporations.

Dr. Bayton was born in Whitestone, Va. He grew up in Philadelphia. He graduated from Howard University and also earned a master's degree in psychology there. He received a doctorate in psychology from the University of Pennsylvania. He taught at Morgan State University and other schools and worked for the Department of Agriculture before beginning his teaching career at Howard.

Dr. Bayton was a 1981 recipient of the distinguished teaching award of the American Psychological Association, of which he was a fellow. He was a member of the National Academy of Public Administration, the American Marketing Association and the Cosmos Club.

Survivors include his wife, Daisy Armstrong Bayton, whom he married in 1939, of Washington, and a sister, Clara Stewart of Tappahannock, Va.