Models of Communication



The Aristotle’s communication model is a speaker centered model as the speaker has the most important role in it and is the only one active. It is the speaker’s role to deliver a speech to the audience. The role of the audience is passive, influenced by the speech. This makes the communication process one way, from speaker to receiver.

The speaker must organize the speech beforehand, according to the target audience and situation (occasion). The speech must be prepared so that the audience be persuaded or influenced by the speech. He believed “Rhetoric” is the study of communication and persuasion and different message or speech should be made for different audiences in different situations to get desired effects or to establish propaganda. This model was highly used to develop public speaking skills and create propaganda at that time so, it is less focused on intrapersonal or interpersonal communication. Even if the model is speaker oriented and focuses on audience interaction in communication, there is no concept of feedback.


Lasswell’s model of communication (also known as an action model or linear model or one-way model of communication) is regarded as one of the most influential communication models. Lasswell’s communication model has 5 components which are used as an analysis tool for evaluating the communication process and components. The components are the questions to be asked to get the answers and keep the communication going.

Who the communicator or sender or source of the message Control Analysis
Says What the content of the message Content Analysis
In Which Channel the medium or media Media Analysis
To Whom the receiver of the message or an audience Audience Analysis
With What Effect the feedback of the receiver to the sender Effect Analysis
  • Control analysis helps the sender to have all the power.
  • Content analysis is associated with stereotyping and representation of different groups politically. It is also related to the purpose or the ulterior motives of the message.
  • Media analysis represents which medium should be used to exercise maximum power against the receivers.
  • Audience analysis shows who are the target population to be manipulated or brainwashed.
  • Effect analysis is done before the process starts. It is used to predict the effect of the message over the target population to be exploited.


Proponents: Claude Elwood Shannon and Warren Weaver
Type of Model: Linear
Published in: Bell System Technical Journal 
Year Published: 1948
Model Branding: Mother of All Models

Known as the mother of all communication models, the Shannon-Weaver model (1949) depicts communication as a linear or one-way process consisting of five elements: a source (producer of message); a transmitter (encoder of message into signals); a channel (signals adapted for transmission); a receiver (decoder of message from the signal); and a destination. This model also includes noise which refers to the physical disturbances like environment, people, etc. which does not let the message get to the receiver as what is sent.

This model, however, has been criticized for missing one essential element in the communication process: feedback. Without feedback, the speaker will not know whether the receiver understands the message or not.

The Idea Behind Shannon-Weaver Model

The sender encodes the message and sends it to the receiver through a technological channel like telephone and telegraph. The sender converts the message into codes understandable to the machine. The message is sent in codes through a medium.

The receiver has to decode the message before understanding it and interpreting it. The receptor machine can also act as a decoder in some cases. The channel can have noise and the receiver might not have the capacity to decode which might cause problems in communication process.

Here, for instance, brain might be the sender, mouth might be the encoder which encodes to a particular language, air might be the channel, another person’s ear might be the receptor and his brain might be the decoder and receiver.

Similarly, air is the channel here, the noise present in his environment that disturbs them is the noise whereas his response is the feedback. There were only 5 components when the model was made. Noise was added later.

As Shannon was an engineer, this model was first made to improve technical communication, mainly for telephonic communication. It was made to to maximize telephone capacity with minimum noise.

Later, Weaver applied it for all kind of communications to develop effective communication and the model became famous as Shannon Weaver model. In engineering, Shannon’s model is also called information theory and is used academically to calculate transmission through machines and also has a formula.

A businessman sends a message via phone text to his worker about a meeting happening about their brand promotion. The worker does not receive the full message because of noise. It goes like this:

Businessman: We have a meeting at the office (“at 8 am” goes missing due to phone network disruption or noise)

Worker (feedback) : At what time?

Sender: Businessman
Encoder: Telephone network company
Channel: Mobile network
Noise: Missing text due to disruption
Decoder: Mobile phone
Receiver: Worker

The transmission error is the noise in this case. The feedback lets the businessman know that the message reached incomplete. The receiver gets the chance to get the full message only after his feedback.

Levels of Communication Problems

There are three levels of problems of communication according to Shannon Weaver. They are:

  1. Technical problem –How a channel causes a problem
  2. Semantic problem –Is the meaning of message sent and received very different
  3. Effectiveness problem –How effectively does the message cause reaction

Unlike the Shannon-Weaver Model, which is a one-way process, the Transaction Model is a two-way process with the inclusion of feedback as one element.


Proponent: Wilbur Schramm
Year Published: 1954
The Meat: People with various knowledge, experience and cultural practices interpret message in a different way than other.

The Field of experience

Field of Experience is the thing that influences the understanding and interpretation of message like culture, social background, beliefs, experiences, values, and rules. The same message can be interpreted differently by different people. If the words and signs they both (sender and receiver) use are common they communicate more efficiently. For example, a person who always eats with a spoon is informed that he has to eat with hands in that place, the person will get offended because he will think it is impolite to eat that way. The sociocultural gap will change the way a person interprets the message.


Proponent: David K. Berlo
Publication Title: El Proceso de la Communicacion (The Process of Communication)
Year Published: 1960

Components of Berlo’s Model of Communication

S -Source

Sender is the source of the message or the person who originates the message. The person or source sends the message to the receiver. The following are the factors related to sender and is also the same in the case of receiver:

  • Communication Skills
    Communication skills of a person is a factor that affects the communication process. If the sender has good communication skills, the message will be communicated better than if the sender’s communication skills are not good. Similarly, if the receiver can not grasp the message, then the communication will not be effective. Communication skills include the skills to speak, present, read, write, listening, etc.
  • Attitude
    The attitude of the sender and the receiver creates the effect of the message. The person’s attitude towards self, the receiver and the environment changes the meaning and effect of the message.
  • Knowledge
    Familiarity with the subject of the message makes the communicated message have its effect more. Knowledge on the subject matter makes the communicator send the message effectively.
  • Social Systems
    Values, beliefs, laws, rules, religion and many other social factors affect the sender’s way of communicating the message. It creates difference in the generation of message. Place and situation also fall under social systems.
  • Culture
    Cultural differences make messages different. A person from one culture might find something offensive which is very much accepted in another culture.


A message is a substance that is being sent by the sender to the receiver. It might be in the form of voice, audio, text, video, or other media.

  • Content
    Content is the thing that is in the message. The whole message from beginning to end is the content.
  • Elements
    Elements are the non-verbal things that tag along with the content like gestures, signs, language, etc.
  • Treatment
    Treatment is the way in which the message is conveyed to the receiver. Treatment also affects the feedback of the receiver.
  • Structure
    The structure of the message or the way it has been structured or arranged affects the effectiveness of the message.
  • Code
    Code is the form in which the message is sent. It might be in the form of language, text, video, etc.


Channel is the medium used to send the message. In mass communication and other forms of communication, technical machines might be used as a channel like a telephone, internet, etc. But in general communication, the five senses of a human being are the channel for the communication flow which is clearly emphasized in this model.

  • Hearing – We receive the message through hearing.
  • Seeing – We perceive through seeing. We also get non-verbal messages by seeing.
  • Touching – Many of the non-verbal communication happens from touching like holding hands.
  • Smelling – We collect information from smelling.
  • Tasting – Taste also provides the information to be sent as a message.

R- Receiver

The receiver is the person who gets the message sent in the process. This model believes that the thinking pattern and all other factors mentioned above must be in sync with that of the sender for the communication to be effective. The message might not have the same effect as intended if the receiver and sender are not similar. The receiver must also have very good listening skills. Other factors are similar to that of the sender.


Figure 6: Gronbeck’s Model of Communication is one of the few simplest models of communication.

Sender – The communicator or sender is the person who is sending the message. Effectiveness of communication involves communicator’s attitude, communicator’s selection of meaningful symbols

Message – A communication in writing, in speech, or by signals

Receiver – The receiver is simply the person receiving the message, making sense of it, or understanding and translating it into meaning.

Feedback – Feedback is the reaction, verbal or non-verbal.


FIGURE 1: Saussure’s Speech Circuit

The diagram shows the sequential progression of communication, beginning in the brain of A where a signifier and signified are mutually articulated in a linguistic sign. The sign is spoken by A which is heard in the ear of B. Person B then makes an association between sound-image and concept in his brain and composes a message in return, by the same means.

According to Saussure, when persons think of a concept (c), it triggers his sound pattern (c, i) which led him to utter the concept (phonation or vocalization). The acoustic sound is then transmitted to another interlocutor who hears it (audition or hearing) which in turn triggers the sound pattern that makes him think of the concept.


In Eugene Nida‘s model, the sender (S) and the receptor can both encode (En) and decode (De) the message. He also emphasized that regardless if the message is acoustic (M with wavy line) or written (M), it is still subject to noise.



Barnlund’s Transactional Model is a multi-layered feedback system. This is a continuous process where sender and receiver interchanges their places and both are equally important. The message passing takes place with a constant feedback being provided from both parties. A feedback for one is the message for the other.

  • Public cues ​(Cpu) are physical, environmental or artificial and natural or man-made.
  • Private cues (Cpr) are also known as private objects of orientation which include senses of a person. Both these cues can be verbal as well as non-verbal. Another set of cues are behavioral cues.
  • Behavioral cues can be verbal (Cbehv) as well as non-verbal (Cbehnv).
  • The jagged lines show that the availability of cues can be unlimited and are denoted as VVVV.
  • The valence signs, +,0, and – are also attached to these types of cues which illustrate the amount/degree/strength of attractiveness of the cues in the message.

The arrows and their directions show that the message is intentionally sent and actively taken where the receiver plays a key role of giving feedback. Arrows also show the process of production of technical encoding, interpretation and decoding.

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