WHAT ARE COMMUNICATION THEORIES
• In communication, models are mostly expressed pictorially or
diagrammatically with the aim of providing a visual representation of
the various aspects of a communication encounter.
• Communication theories and models therefore serve a valuable
purpose for students of communication because they allow you to
determine where or with whom a communication encounter starts and ends.
• Communication models are generally grouped as either:
2. Interaction or
• These are aka mechanistic or communication-as-action models.
• They view communication as a unidirectional process whereby the
sender does not receive any feedback or response from the receiver
of his message.
• Though the receiver is included in the model, he is merely regarded
as an end point; focus is therefore principally on the sender and his
• Notable linear communication models are:
the Aristotle, Laswell and Shanon-Weaver models.
• The Aristotle (circa 384-322 BCE) Model
oThis was gotten from his theories of rhetoric and proof which were
mainly a set of prescriptions or instructions on how to be effective
and persuasive speakers.
oThe Aristotle model was therefore more of a model of public
oIn its simplest form, the model has three elements: the speaker, the
speech (message) and the audience.
oIn its expanded form the model emphasizes two additional elements: The Occasion & The Effect
The Lasswell (1948) Model
oBased on Harold Laswell’s studies on the process of political
campaigning and propagandas during the 1948 US election.
oThe model is all about who, says what, in what channel, to whom and
to what effect.
✓Who refers to the source,
✓Says what refers to the message,
✓In what channel e.g. newspaper,
✓To whom refers to the audience, and
✓To what effect refers to actions motivated by exposure to the message
• These are aka communication-as-interaction or circular models.
• The models are a two-way path model
in which both sender and receiver are known as communicators or interpreters.
• Seek to address the shortcomings of linear models; especially the lack of
• Such models view communication as an exchange of messages between
sender and receiver where each takes turn to send or receive messages.
• The models are predominantly reflective of interpersonal, verbal
• These are aka as communication-as-transaction or convergence
• Transaction models arose as a result of the quest for more exchange
of meaning because the previous forms of models had been criticized
as mere transmission of meaning devices.
• The focus with transaction models is therefore more on creation of
• However, for meaning to be properly created the field of experience
of both the sender and receiver must overlap.