Communication Models

A communication model provides a graphical representation of a communication process. In other words, we can say that a communication model is a consciously simplified description in the graphic form of a piece of reality. A model shows the main elements of any structure or process and the relationships between these elements. Deutsch (1966) describes the main advantages of models in social sciences, Firstly, models have an organizing function by ordering and relating system to each other and providing us with the images of wholes that we might not otherwise perceive. A model gives a general picture of a range of different particular circumstances. Secondly, it helps in explaining, by providing in a simplified way information, which would otherwise, is complicated or ambiguous It can guide the student or the researcher to key points of the process and system Thirdly, the model may make it possible to predict outcomes or the course of events. It can at least be a basis for assigning probabilities 10 various alternative outcomes, and hence for formulating hypotheses in research, Some models claim only the structure of a phenomenon. In this sense, a diagram of the components of a radio set could be described as ‘structural’. Other models, which we call, ‘functional’, describe systems in terms of energy, forces and their direction, the relations between parts and the influence of one part on another.

Development in Communication Models

The focus on communication was first begun after World War II. The possibility of a science of communication was first discussed in United States of America in the post-war period. The decade of the 1950s proved to be fertile in model-building activity, which can be taken as an expression of the search for growth and unity in the study of communication.

According to Johnson and Klare (1961), first of all, Claude Shannon who was a mathematician provided the stimulus to social scientists to formulate their thinking about communication in model form. The simple sender-channel-receiver model was rapidly modified during the 1950s according to the interests both of the students of mass communication. The changes took account of several important aspects of human communication. One was the occurrence of feedback. Due to feedback communication took the recognition of non-linearity process. The models at that time were typically circular, recurrent and spiraling.

A second major development is related to the face that receiver normally selectively perceive, interpret and retain messages. The potential inefficiency of communication link was, of course, recognized the earlier mathematical model, but the problem is there treated as noise in the system since the main criteria of successful communication is derived from the intentions of the sender.

During the 1960s and 1970s, the focus of research tended to shift away from the questions of direct effects of mass media on opinion, attitudes, and behavior. More attention was paid to longer-term and indirect socializing and ideological process and also to effects, which depend on the relative degree of attention, paid by the media to aspects of the social environment.

Future Development

It is more difficult to predict the course of futute model building due to rapid growth in the field of mass media in recent era. Perhaps the most significant developments in the coming decade will follow from cd-rooms to multimedia. We would like to stress the utility of model-making as a continuing activity designed to clarify new ideas and theories and helping to organize research findings and point to questions for research. Models will have to be adapted to the changing communication reality of our societies.

Lasswell’s Model of Communication, 1948

The American political scientist Harold D. Lasswell began an article in 1948 with perhaps the most famous single phrase in communication research. A convenient way to describe an act of communication is to answer the following questions


Says what? In which channel?

To whom?

With what effect?

This has ever since been known and cited as the Lasswell formula, and if transformed to a graphic model. This simple formula has been used in several ways, mostly to organize and to give structure to discussions about communication. Lasswell himself uses it to point out a distinct type of communication research. To each question, he has attached a particular type of analysis.

Shannon and Weaser Model of Communication, 1949

Shannon and Weaver were engineers working for the Bell Telephone Laboratories in the US and their objective was to ensure maximum efficiency of the channels of communication, in their case TELEPHONE cable and RADIO wave, however in Mathematical theory of communication (US: University of Illinois Press, 1949), they claim for their theory a much wider application to human communication than solely the technical one. Within the framework of their model of transition, the authors identify three levels of problems in the analysis of communication Level A (technical), level B (semantic – the meaning as emanating from the transmitter’s mode of address and level C (effectiveness in terms of reception or understanding of the part of the receiver). Shannon tackle level A problems, and the assumption seems to be that 10 sorts out the technical problems by improving ENCONDING will. almost automatically, lead to improvements at levels B and C.

In the Shannon and Weaver model, no provision has been made for FEEDBACK and the fact that FEEDBACK modifies both the MESSAGE and the communication situation, nor is there any acknowledgment of the importance of contest-social political-cultural- in influencing all stages of the communication process Nevertheless, the Shannon and Weaver model arguably gave birth to what has come to be termed Communication Studies.

Norconil’s AMX Model of Communication, 1953

In contrast to the linear structure of the Shannon and weaver model of communication, 1949, TH Newcomb’s model is triangular in shape, and is the first to introduce as a factor the role of communication in a society or a social relationship.

A and B are communicators and X is the situation or social context in which the communication takes place. Both the individuals are orientated to each other and to X, and communication is conceived of as the process, which supports this orientation structure Symmetry or balance is maintained between the three elements by the transmission of information about any change in circumstance or relationship, thus allowing adjustment to take place.

For Newcomb, the process of communication is one of the interdependent factors maintaining equilibrium, or as Newcomb himself puts it in an approach to the study of communication acts’ in Psychological Review, 60 (195) ‘communication among human beings, performs the essential functions of enabling two or more individuals to maintain simultaneous orientation to each other and towards objects of an external environment.

The Osgood and Schramm Circular Model, 1954

If the Shannon model could be described as linear. He may say that the Osgood-Schramm model is highly circular another difference lies in that whereas Shannon’s interest is primarily direct 10 the channels mediating between the senders and receiver Schramm and Osgood devote their discussion to the behavior of the main actors in the communication process, even so, there are important similarities between the two approaches.

Shannon and Weaver make a distinction between source and transmitter and between receiver and destination in other words, two functions are fulfilled at the transmitting end of the process and two at the receiving end. In Schramm-Osgood case, almost the same functions are performed, even if they do not talk about transmitters and receivers. They describe the action parties as equals, performing identical functions, namely encoding decoding and interpreting. Roughly, the encoding function is similar to the transmitting, the decoding to the receiving Schramm and Osgood’s interpreting function is fulfilled in Shannon and Weaver’s model by the source and the destination.

Schramm’s Model of Communication, 1954

Wilbur Schramm built on the Shannon and Weaver MODEL OF COMMUNICATION, 1949 (The Mathematical Theory of Communication), but more interested in mass communication than in the technology of communication transmission. In how communication work’s in W. Schramm, ed.,

The Process and Effect of Mass Communication

The author possesses three models (US: University of Illinois Press, 1954).

Shannon and Weaver’s Transmitter and Receiver become ENCODER and DECODER and their essentially linear model is restructured in Schramm’s second model to demonstrate the overlapping, interactive nature of the communication.process and the importance of what the encoder and decoder bring to the communication situation, their field of experience where that field of experience overlaps is the signal. Schramm’s third model. emphasizes feedback, and in doing so points up the circularity of the communication process.

Gerbner’s Model of Communication, 1956

“The most comprehensive attempt e Specify all the component stages and activities of communication is a modifier version of George Gerbner’s model” (Denis)

Mis responder to E (event) and may machine (such as a microphone or camera). Gerbner emphasis is upon the considerable variability in the perception of an event by a communicating agent and also in the way message is perceived by a receiver. He speaks of the essential creative, interactive nature of the perceptual process’ Equally important is the stress placed upon the importance of context to the reading of messages. and of the open nature of human communication.

For Oerbner the relationship between form and content in the communication process (S=Signal) is dynamic and interactive It is also concerned with ac ess and control, dimensions which inevitably affect the nature and content of communication messages their selection, shaping and distortion. At the level of the mass media, this is obvious, but access and control also operate t the level of interpersonal communication Teacher in classrooms, for example, speakers at public meetings, parents in the home situation.

Back on the horizontal axis, Gerbner stresses the importance of availability A literate electorate may have the opacity to read all the facts about a political situation, all the pros and cons of an industrial dispute but the capacity can only operate, and the pros and cons be properly weighed, if the necessary facts re made available.

What Gerbner’s model does not do is address itself fully satisfactory to the problem of how MESSAGE has generated The form or CODE of the message (s) is taken for granted, whereas the advocate of SEMIOLOGY/SEMIOTICS would argue that meaning is an essence in the communication process.

Wesley and MacLeon’s Communication, 1957

In the article ‘A conceptual model for communications research’ in journalism quarterly, 34, B.H, Wesley and MS MacLean develop Newcomb’s ABX model of communication. 1953 with the aim of encapsulating the overall mass communication process. The Newcomb’s A (communicator 1) B (communicator2) X (any event or objection environment of A B which is the subject of communication), Wesley and MacLean add a fourth element, C; this represents the editorial communicating function – the process of deciding what and how to communicate.

Newcomb’s model represented chiefly interpersonal communication, it was a triangular formation, with A. B and X interacting equilaterally. Wesley and MacLean indicate that the mass media process crucially shifts the balance, bringing A (in this case that would be communicator) and C (the mass communication organization and its agents who control the channel) closer together. C is both channel and mediator of A’s transmission of x to B (now classifiable as the audience), and B’s contact with X is more remote than in the Newcomb model, if it exists at all save through the combined processing of AC. FEEDBACK is represented by f.

It can be seen from the model that need not go through to B via A and C but via C alone. The role of C as the intermediary has a dual character purposive when the process involves conveying a message through (from an advocate- a politician, for example, and non-purposive when it is a matter of conveying the unplanned events of the world to an audience.

The main trust of the model appears to be emphasizing the dependency of B upon A and C what is missing from the model, and what later thinking about mass media process insists upon are the numerous message sources and influences which work upon B other than A-C, and counter-balance the influences of AC- such as the family, friends, members of peer groups, workmates, colleagues, or wider influences such as school, church, trade unions, etc

Jakobson’s Model of Communication, 1958

Roman linguist, Jakobson is concerned with notions of MEANING and of the internal structure of messages His model is a double one, involving the constitutive factors in an act of communication, each of these factors is then locked on to the function it performs.

Pathetic here refers to the function keeping the channels of communication open and multilingual is the function of actually identifying the communication code which is being used.

Riley and Riley Model of Mass Communication, 1959

John W. Riley jr and Matillda While Riley in Mass communication and the social system’ in RK Merton, L. Broom and L.S. Cottrell jr. eds; Sociology today problems and prospects (US: Basic Books, 1959; Harper torch Books, vol 2.1965) possesses a model in which the process of communication is an integral part of the SOCIAL SYSTEM.

For Riley and Riley both the communicator (C) and the recipient (R) are effected in the message process of sending, receiving, reciprocating, by the three social orders the primary group or groups of which C and R are members; the larger social structure, that is the immediate community -social, cultural, industrial -to which they belong, and the overall social system All of these are in dynamic interaction, with messages flowing multidirectionally.

The mass media audience Riley and Riley perceive as being neither impassive nor isolated but it composite of recipients who are related to nor another, and whose responses are patterned in terms of these relationships.

Berlo’s SMCR Model of Communication, 1960

David K Berlo, who studied with Wilbur Schramm at the University of Illinois, produced SMCR model in his article, the process of communication; an introduction to theory and practice (US: Holt, Rinehart &Winston, 1960). It is a development in a sociological direction of the Shannon and viewer’s model of communication.

Features of the process have been made explicit due action ledgement being made of the significance to both source and receiver of culture and the social system in which the act of communication take place Berlo’s model does not record the flow of communication, through the assumption must be that it is conceived as linear- in a line from source to receiver Both FEEDBACK and the INTERACTION of elements are implied rather than made explicit. In a successful act of communication Berlo’s model suggests, the skills of source and receiver must. 10 a considerable extent, match each other. The same may be said tor attitudes of VALUES and knowledge must be acknowledged The model rewards analysis and testing out, especially elegant portrait of the message.

Dance’s llelical Model of Communication, 1967

The earliest communication models were linear, their successors were circular, emphasizing the crucial factor feedback in Dance in the book he edited, human communication theory (US Hot, Rinehart & Winston, 1967) commends the circular model as an advance upon the linear one but faults it on the grounds that it suggests that communication comes back full-circle, 10 exactly the same point from which it started an assumption which ‘manifestly erroneous’.

The helix or spiral, for Dance, combines the desirable features of the straight line and of the circle while avoiding the weakness of either, he goes on, at any and all tinies the helix given geometric testimony to the concept that communication while moving forward is at the same moment coining back upon itself and being affected by its past behavior, for the coming curve of the helix is fundamentally affected by the curve from which it emerges.

Dance’s helical model parallel theories of education put forward by Jerome Bruner and generally referred to as the spiral curriculum.

Becker’s Mosaic Model of Communication, 1968

Messages are rarely single, coming along one line, so the concept of a mosaic as a model of a communication process is a useful variant on the linear theme. SL Becker in what rhetoric (communication theory) is relevant for contemporary speech communication? A paper presented at the University of Minnesota Spring Symposium in Speech communication, 1968. posed the theory of ‘communication mosaic’ indicating that most communicative acts link MESSAGE elements from more than the immediate social situation from early impressions, previous conversations, from the media, from half-forgotten comments a mosaic of source influences.

The layers of Becker’s mosaic cube correspond to layers of information. Some elements of the mosaic assert themselves. others are blocked out the model illustrates the communication process and the interaction between its ‘cubes’ or ‘tesserae’ of information, showing the internal as well as the external world of communication, that which is isolated or unique, that which is recurring in a dense and ever-changing pattern.

Andersen, Stats and Bostrom Model of Communication, 1969

Environmental or contextual factors are at the center of the communication model devised by Elizabeth G. Andersch, Lorin C. Stat’s and Robert N. Bostrom and presented in communication everyday Use (US. Holt, Rinehart &Winston).

Like Barnlund’s Transactional model this one stresses the transactional nature of the communication process, in which messages and their meanings are structured and evaluated by the sender and subjected to reconstruction and evaluation on the part of the receiver, all while interacting with factors or stimuli in the environment.

Berglund’s Transactional Model of Communication, 1970

In ‘A’ transactional model of communication in KK Sereno and C.D. Mortensen, eds., foundations of communication theory (US: Harper & Row, 1970), Dean ( Barnlund attempts to address the complexities of human communication’ which present’ an unbelievably difficult challenge to the student of human attains. His model pays due respect to this complexity For Barnlund communication both describes the evolution of MEANING and aims at the reduction of uncertainty. He stresses that meaning is something “invented”, ‘assigned’, given’ rather than something ‘received’ meaning may be generated while a man stands alone on a mountain trail or sits in the privacy of his study speculation about internal doubt.

Within and around the communicant are cues of unlimited numbers, though some carrying more weight- or valence- than others at any given time. Berglund’s model indicates three sets of private cues and behavioral cues. DECODING and ENCODING are visualized as a part of the same spiraling process-continuous, unrepeatable and irreversible. The use of +, O and against the various cues denotes their weighing, as stimulating a positive, neutral or negative response or reading.

Public cues Barnlund divides into natural- those supplied by the physical world without the intervention of people, such as atmospheric conditions, natural occurrences modification and manipulation of their environment. For example, Barnlund places his communicant, Mr. A in a doctor’s waiting room which contains many public artificial cues – a pile of magazines, a small of antiseptic. a picture by a painter along the wall Private cues emanates from sources not automatically available to any other person who enters a communicative field ‘public and private cues may be verbal or nonverbal in form, but the critical quality is that they were brought into existence and remain beyond the control of communicants’. The third set of cues – Behavourial – are those initiated or controlled by communicant him/herself and in response to public and private cues, colored by communicant’s ‘sensory-motor successes and failures in past, combined with his current appetites and needs’ which will establish’ his set towards the environment’.

Berglund emphasizes the transferability of cues Public cues can be transformed into private ones, private cues may be converted into public ones, which environmental and Behavourial cues may merge. In short, the whole process is one of the transaction, and few models have explored so impressively the inner dynamics of this process as Barnlund’s, which also has useful application to the dynamics of mass communication.

Leave a Comment