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Communication model

What is a communication model?

A communication model is a pictorial representation of the communication process. They can be considered to be systematic representations of the process which helps us understand how communication works can be carried out. Theorists have been building communication models ever since 300 BC in attempts to explain and understand the best ways to improve communication and rhetoric.

These models depict the process metaphorically or in symbolic terms. They form general perspectives on communication by virtue of decomposing communication down from complicated to simple and they keep the components in order. 

Sometimes communication models omit significant aspects of human communication. Another major disadvantage of communication models is that they can encourage traditional thinking and lead to stereotyping.

What are the types of communication models?

There are three general types of communication models into which all the other types of communication models can be categorized. These are:

1. Linear models

Which depict one-way communication and are used to communicate to the masses. 


2. Transactional models

These are used for interpersonal communication and the sender and the receiver change roles here.


3. Interactional models

Interactional models are also known as convergence models. They are used for new forms of communication like internet communication.

What are the linear communication models?

The linear communication models explain a unidirectional communication process. They are good for persuading audiences but there is no concept of feedback involved. It isn’t very easy to know if the communication was effective.

The linear communication models are:

  • Aristotle’s Model
  • Lasswell’s Model
  • Shannon-Weaver Model
  • Berlo’s S-M-C-R Model


1. Aristotle’s model

Formulated in 300 BC, this is the oldest communication model. It was created for the purpose of understanding how to become a more effective and persuasive communicator. Aristotle suggests taking five elements of a communication event into consideration to figure out the best way to communicate: speaker, speech, occasion, target audience, and effect.

In his communication model, Aristotle does not assign any importance to the role of feedback in communication.

Aristotle even identified three elements that have the power to greatly improve communication: ethos (credibility), pathos (the ability to connect), and logos (logical argument).

You could essentially consider Aristotle’s communication model to be a framework to help you improve your communication capabilities by examining certain critical aspects that are underpinning a situation.


2. Lasswell’s Model

This model of communication attempts to understand a communication event by asking five important questions:

  • Who created the event and what is their bias? This is analyzed using control analysis and the component is the communicator.
  • What did they say? This is analyzed using content analysis and the component is the message.
  • What channel did they say it over? This is analyzed using media analysis and the component is the medium.
  • Whom did they communicate the message to? This analyzed using audience analysis and the component is the audience.
  • What effect did the message have on the receiver? This is analyzed using effects analysis and the component is the effect.


3. Shannon-Weaver Model

This model considers communication to occur in four parts: sender, encoder, channel, decoder, and receiver. It stresses the importance of encoding and decoding messages for them to be transmitted. 

This was the first model to acknowledge the existence of noise in communication that occurs during the process of encoding, sending and decoding and could disrupt or alter a message. This noise could refer to something like the static on a radio broadcast, but it could even include spelling errors in written communication or the receiver mishearing the message.


4. Berlo’s S-M-C-R Model

Berlo’s model explains communication in four steps: Source, Message, Channel, and Receiver. This model provides a thorough account of the key elements in every one of the steps that will affect the manner in which the message is communicated.

  • Source: The elements included in the source are the sender’s communication skills, their attitude and their culture.
  • Message: The elements included in the message are the content, structure, and code of the message.
  • Channel: The elements included in the channel are the senses of hearing, seeing, touching, smelling, etc.
  • Receiver: The elements of the receiver are their attitude, knowledge, and culture.

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What are the transactional communication models?

The transactional communication models explore direct personal communication processes in which two-way feedback is immediate.

The transactional communication models include:

  • Barnlund’s Transactional Model
  • Dance’s Helical Model


1. Barnlund’s transactional model

This model examines interpersonal, immediate-feedback communication. It holds the idea that feedback for the sender is the reply for the receiver central to the approach.

Barnlund’s model also emphasizes the role of cues in impacting your communication. It sheds light on public cues (environmental cues) and private cues (your own personal thoughts and background). Essentially, this model shows us the factors that influence what we think and say.


2. Dance’s Helical Model

This model builds on circular models and explains how we improve our messages over time by using feedback. The feedback received for one message influences our next statement. This helps us become more knowledgeable with each cycle, making it possible for us to expand our circle as depicted in the model by circles that continuously increase in their width. The upward movement in the spiral denotes that every communication practice is new and is unique as communication doesn’t ever perfectly repeat itself.

What are the interactive communication models?

The interactive communication models are the most effective way to explain impersonal two-way communication processes.

The interactive communication models are:

  • Osgood-Schramm Model
  • Westley And Maclean Model


1. Osgood-Schramm Model

This model considers communication to be equal and reciprocal. It has no differentiation between sender and receiver. Each is considered to be in an equal position as message encoders and decoders.

The Osgood-Schramm model is the most appropriate model for explaining and analyzing personal synchronous communication in which feedback is instantaneous like in face-to-face conversations. Since feedback is immediate, it is possible to reduce noise through the continuous clarification of messages throughout the conversation.


2. The Westley And Maclean Model

This model emphasizes the importance of feedback in communication. It also highlights the

role of environmental and cultural factors that influence communication.

It demonstrates that the messages we communicate are influenced by our background, our perspective, and our identity. It also considers the object of orientation (background, culture and beliefs) of the sender and receiver of the message. The model also assumes the message to have been received and sent within a broader social context that has to be considered to know and understand the message.

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Communication model

October 14, 2020

Table of contents

Key takeawaysCollaboration platforms are essential to the new way of workingEmployees prefer engati over emailEmployees play a growing part in software purchasing decisionsThe future of work is collaborativeMethodology

What is a communication model?

A communication model is a pictorial representation of the communication process. They can be considered to be systematic representations of the process which helps us understand how communication works can be carried out. Theorists have been building communication models ever since 300 BC in attempts to explain and understand the best ways to improve communication and rhetoric.

These models depict the process metaphorically or in symbolic terms. They form general perspectives on communication by virtue of decomposing communication down from complicated to simple and they keep the components in order. 

Sometimes communication models omit significant aspects of human communication. Another major disadvantage of communication models is that they can encourage traditional thinking and lead to stereotyping.

What are the types of communication models?

There are three general types of communication models into which all the other types of communication models can be categorized. These are:

1. Linear models

Which depict one-way communication and are used to communicate to the masses. 


2. Transactional models

These are used for interpersonal communication and the sender and the receiver change roles here.


3. Interactional models

Interactional models are also known as convergence models. They are used for new forms of communication like internet communication.

What are the linear communication models?

The linear communication models explain a unidirectional communication process. They are good for persuading audiences but there is no concept of feedback involved. It isn’t very easy to know if the communication was effective.

The linear communication models are:

  • Aristotle’s Model
  • Lasswell’s Model
  • Shannon-Weaver Model
  • Berlo’s S-M-C-R Model


1. Aristotle’s model

Formulated in 300 BC, this is the oldest communication model. It was created for the purpose of understanding how to become a more effective and persuasive communicator. Aristotle suggests taking five elements of a communication event into consideration to figure out the best way to communicate: speaker, speech, occasion, target audience, and effect.

In his communication model, Aristotle does not assign any importance to the role of feedback in communication.

Aristotle even identified three elements that have the power to greatly improve communication: ethos (credibility), pathos (the ability to connect), and logos (logical argument).

You could essentially consider Aristotle’s communication model to be a framework to help you improve your communication capabilities by examining certain critical aspects that are underpinning a situation.


2. Lasswell’s Model

This model of communication attempts to understand a communication event by asking five important questions:

  • Who created the event and what is their bias? This is analyzed using control analysis and the component is the communicator.
  • What did they say? This is analyzed using content analysis and the component is the message.
  • What channel did they say it over? This is analyzed using media analysis and the component is the medium.
  • Whom did they communicate the message to? This analyzed using audience analysis and the component is the audience.
  • What effect did the message have on the receiver? This is analyzed using effects analysis and the component is the effect.


3. Shannon-Weaver Model

This model considers communication to occur in four parts: sender, encoder, channel, decoder, and receiver. It stresses the importance of encoding and decoding messages for them to be transmitted. 

This was the first model to acknowledge the existence of noise in communication that occurs during the process of encoding, sending and decoding and could disrupt or alter a message. This noise could refer to something like the static on a radio broadcast, but it could even include spelling errors in written communication or the receiver mishearing the message.


4. Berlo’s S-M-C-R Model

Berlo’s model explains communication in four steps: Source, Message, Channel, and Receiver. This model provides a thorough account of the key elements in every one of the steps that will affect the manner in which the message is communicated.

  • Source: The elements included in the source are the sender’s communication skills, their attitude and their culture.
  • Message: The elements included in the message are the content, structure, and code of the message.
  • Channel: The elements included in the channel are the senses of hearing, seeing, touching, smelling, etc.
  • Receiver: The elements of the receiver are their attitude, knowledge, and culture.

Build an AI chatbot to engage your always-on customers


What are the transactional communication models?

The transactional communication models explore direct personal communication processes in which two-way feedback is immediate.

The transactional communication models include:

  • Barnlund’s Transactional Model
  • Dance’s Helical Model


1. Barnlund’s transactional model

This model examines interpersonal, immediate-feedback communication. It holds the idea that feedback for the sender is the reply for the receiver central to the approach.

Barnlund’s model also emphasizes the role of cues in impacting your communication. It sheds light on public cues (environmental cues) and private cues (your own personal thoughts and background). Essentially, this model shows us the factors that influence what we think and say.


2. Dance’s Helical Model

This model builds on circular models and explains how we improve our messages over time by using feedback. The feedback received for one message influences our next statement. This helps us become more knowledgeable with each cycle, making it possible for us to expand our circle as depicted in the model by circles that continuously increase in their width. The upward movement in the spiral denotes that every communication practice is new and is unique as communication doesn’t ever perfectly repeat itself.

What are the interactive communication models?

The interactive communication models are the most effective way to explain impersonal two-way communication processes.

The interactive communication models are:

  • Osgood-Schramm Model
  • Westley And Maclean Model


1. Osgood-Schramm Model

This model considers communication to be equal and reciprocal. It has no differentiation between sender and receiver. Each is considered to be in an equal position as message encoders and decoders.

The Osgood-Schramm model is the most appropriate model for explaining and analyzing personal synchronous communication in which feedback is instantaneous like in face-to-face conversations. Since feedback is immediate, it is possible to reduce noise through the continuous clarification of messages throughout the conversation.


2. The Westley And Maclean Model

This model emphasizes the importance of feedback in communication. It also highlights the

role of environmental and cultural factors that influence communication.

It demonstrates that the messages we communicate are influenced by our background, our perspective, and our identity. It also considers the object of orientation (background, culture and beliefs) of the sender and receiver of the message. The model also assumes the message to have been received and sent within a broader social context that has to be considered to know and understand the message.

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