David Berlo’s Source Message Channel Receiver (SMCR) Model
David Berlo’s Source Message Channel Receiver (SMCR) model is an expansion of Shannon and Weaver’s 1948 model of linear communication. The SMCR model is not specific to any particular type of communication, but applies to all communication methods, and can even be applied to any second language communication. This model of communication considers the source, message, channel, and receiver, as well as the importance of the psychological view in the communication model. Berlo’s model is broken down into four areas with each area containing essential elements.
The source is where the message originates. The source is the individual who transfers the information to the receiver after carefully putting his/her thoughts into words. In order to achieve this, the source must possess communication skills, which is the ability to read, write, speak, and listen. The source must also possess the appropriate attitude towards his/her intended message recipient, an appropriate attitude towards the subject that is being discussed and the appropriate attitude towards oneself. The source must possess the requisite knowledge on the subject that is being communicated, including content, use and form of the language. In addition, the source must include the various aspects in society such as values, beliefs, religion and general understanding of social considerations to be considered. Lastly, the source must consider the culture of the particular society and the aspects of that society where the communication is taking place. When an individual converts his thoughts into words, a message is created. The process is also called as encoding.
The message is the product of the source or encoder. This product (ultimately) is what we want to say and/or the information we want to convey. Within each message there is content, elements, treatment, structure and code. The message content is whatever that is being transmitted from beginning to end. The message content is always accompanied by different elements. Some of these elements include hand movements, gestures, postures, facial expressions and body movements. Next we have treatment. Treatment refers to the packaging of the message, or the way in which the message is conveyed, or the way in which the message is passed on/delivered to the receiver. Treatment is the way one coveys the message to the receiver. It is important for a source to understand the importance of the message and that same source must know how to handle it. After treatment is structure. A message requires proper structure in order to convey the message in the most desired form. The structure of the message relates to how it has been arranged into various parts (beginning, middle, end) and might include a thesis, hypothesis and/or conclusion. Without proper structure, the message will become confusing during the delivery. The final subset beneath the message category is code. The code is the transmission format of the message. “Your body movements, your language, your expressions, your gestures are actually the codes of the message and have to be accurate otherwise the message gets distorted and the recipient will never be able to decode the correct information.” (Unknown 2014)
The channel is third process within the Berlo’s SMCR model. Five senses are used to encode and decode the message: Hearing—Seeing—Touching—Smelling—Tasting. All of these five senses are the channels that help us to communicate with each other. When communication is taking place, channels can be any of the five senses or a combination.
The last pillar in Berlo’s SMCR model is the receiver. According to Berlo, the receiver is the most important link in the communication process (Berlo 1963). As noted in the source pillar: communication skills, social system and culture, attitude, and amount of knowledge affect both the source and receiver in the communication process. “The receiver in this model would then become the source, encoding information via feedback to the original source, which had now become the receiver.” (Underwood 2003)
There have been some criticisms of Berlo’s SMCR model throughout the years, primarily the lack of feedback. The source has limited ability to know the effect the message had upon the receiver. This might be attributed to the model being a linear model of communication. Another criticism of the SMCR model is how it does not mention communication barriers and leaves no room for communication noise, such as interference, misplacement and transmission errors. The model assumes that we are all communication at the same level, but this is not the reality we live in.
Berlo, David K. (1963). The Communication Process: An Introduction to Theory and Practice. Holt, Rinehart and Winston.
Unknown Author. 2014. Management Study Guide: Berlo’s Model of Communication. Accessed from http://managementstudyguide.com/berlo-model-of-communication.htm
Underwood, M. (2003) Berlo’s SMCR model. Accessed from http://www.cultsock.ndirect.co.uk/MUHome/cshtml/index.html
Doyle, T. (2000-2004) Interpersonal transmission: Berlo, Osgood and Schramm, Gerbner. Accessed from http://novaonline.nvcc.edu/eli/spd110td/interper/process/interpersonaltransmission.html