What is the Transmission Model of
Interpersonal Communication and
What is Wrong with it?
The best known model of communication is the one devised by Shannon and Weaver (1949). It is a simple linear model which is easily understood. The model has five main parts: • Information source - where the message is produced
• Transmitter - where the message is encoded
• Channel - where the signal is carried
• Receiver - where the message is decoded
• Destination - where the message ends up
There is also a sixth part which is noise. Noise is interference in the channel, and causes a signal to be received that was not intended by the source. The advantages of Shannon and Weaver's model are that it is in a simple, easily understood form; and that it is a general model that can be applied to most types of communication. The five main parts are self-explanatory; the only part that needs some description is the 'noise'. However, the model oversimplifies the process of communication and a number of important considerations have been excluded. In looking at the shortfalls of the transmission model I shall consider interpersonal communication, where source and destination are replaced by sender - message - receiver. One of the problems with transmission models is that the source is the decision maker and that the destination is passive. The sender chooses a message to send, and the receiver simply receives that message rather than actively participates in the communication process. But communication is a two-way process, a complex system of signals passing back and forth between the participants. People talk to each other, there is never a 'one-sided' conversation, even if the other person is silent their body language and facial expressions may speak volumes! Transmission models also suggest that communication is always intended, that the sender always sets out to send a message to the receiver, but communication can be unintentional. As...
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