Credits to the Owners
David K. Berlo studied with Wilbur Schramm in the School of Journalism at the University of Illinois, where he received his doctorate in 1956, with the Allocation Thesis of Procedural Responsibilities to Determine Group Productivity and Satisfaction, directed by Charles and Osgood. In 1960, he created the SMCR model and the book Process of Communication: An Introduction to Theory and Practice, edited by Thomson Learning, was published. The book exhibited his theoretical models on the psychological nature of communication. He served as director of the Department of Communication at the University of Michigan, where he oversaw many doctoral theses, including the thesis of the Bolivian theoretician Luis Ramiro Beltrán. He served as President of the University of Illinois (1971-1973), and resigned amidst controversy. * History
Communication models have been used throughout history as a means of analyzing the components of effective communication, as well as exploring methods for improving communication on many levels. In his 1960 work titled The Process of Communication, David Berlo quoted Aristotle, saying that “…the prime goal of communication was persuasion, an attempt to sway other men to the speaker’s point of view” (Berlo, 1960, p. 8). Berlo’s work focuses on the purpose and goals of communication before addressing his communication model. He states that the purpose of communication is four-fold. It is:
1. Not logically contradictory or inconsistent with itself;
2. Behavior-centered; that is, expressed in terms of human behaviors;
3. Specific enough for us to be able to relate it to actual communication behavior;
4. Consistent with the ways in which people do communicate (Berlo, p. 10).
Once the purpose of communication is defined, it is necessary to understand the concept of levels of interdependence. Berlo writes, “In any communication situation, the source and the receiver are interdependent” (Berlo, p. 106-120). There are four levels of interdependence, from the most basic to the most sophisticated and effective. He is careful to note that all levels of interdependence are used in communication to some degree. The levels are:
1. Definitional- physical interdependence, which is the act of the source and receiver talking “at” each other, not listening or reacting to each other’s message. The only function served by either is having a physical presence with which to communicate.
2. Action-reaction interdependence, in which the source has a purpose, encodes a message or request, the receiver decodes the message, performs the interpreted task, and the source provides feedback.
3. Interdependence of expectations (empathy), is explained as communication relying on the source anticipating the receiver response, followed by adjusting the message and channel so that the message will be decoded accurately and reach the receiver as the source intends.
4. Interaction is the goal of interdependence, where the source and receiver cannot be independent and provide successful communication.
Berlo’s theory is not unique in using compartmentalizing communication as a way to understand and facilitate communication. According to Berlo (1960), Aristotle asserted that there are three ingredients to communication: the person who speaks; the speech that he produces; and the person who listens (p. 8).
Continuing in the tradition of analyzing the components and process of communication, Claude Shannon and Warren Weaver developed a linear model of communication known as the Shannon-Weaver Mathematical Model. According to Kaminski, the goal of Shannon and Weaver was to “formulate a theory to guide the efforts of engineers in finding the most efficient way of transmitting electrical signals from one location to another” (Kaminski, 2004). The Shannon-Weaver model is comprised of five elements: source, transmitter, signal, receiver, and destination. While this model is effective, it is criticized for oversimplifying the communication process. Berlo, recognizing the potential effectiveness of this system, made alterations to create a communication model that was more cyclical than the technological, linear Shannon-Weaver Model. As a result, Berlo’s model, also known as the SMCR model, includes non-verbal as well as verbal communication. * SMCR Model
While the Aristotle model of communication puts the speaker in the central position and suggests that the speaker is the one who drives the entire communication, the Berlo’s model of communication takes into account the emotional aspect of the message. Berlo’s model of communication operates on the SMCR model.
Let us now study the all the factors in detail: * S - Source
The source in other words also called the sender is the one from whom the thought originates. He is the one who transfers the information to the receiver after carefully putting his thoughts into words.
How does the source or the sender transfer his information to the recipient ?
It is done with the help of communication skills, Attitude, Knowledge, Social System and Culture. * Communication Skills
An individual must possess excellent communication skills to make his communication effective and create an impact among the listeners. The speaker must know where to take pauses, where to repeat the sentences, how to speak a particular sentence, how to pronounce a word and so on. The speaker must not go on and on. He should also make a point to cross check with the recipients and listen to their queries as well. An individual must take care of his accent while communicating. A bad accent leads to a boring conversation. * Attitude
It is rightly said that if one has the right attitude, the whole world is at his feet. There is actually no stopping for the person if he has the right attitude. A person might be a very good speaker but if he doesn’t have the right attitude, he would never emerge as a winner. The sender must have the right attitude to create a long lasting impression on the listeners. An individual must be an MBA from a reputed institute, but he would be lost in the crowd without the right attitude. * Knowledge
Here knowledge is not related to the educational qualification of the speaker or the number of degrees he has in his portfolio. Knowledge is actually the clarity of the information which the speaker wants to convey to the second party. One must be thorough in what he is speaking with complete in-depth knowledge of the subject. Remember questions can pop up anytime and you have to be ready with your answers. You need to be totally familiar with what you are speaking. Before delivering any speech, read as much you can and prepare the subject completely without ignoring even the smallest detail. * Social System
Imagine a politician delivering a speech where he proposes to construct a temple in a Muslim dominated area. What would be the reaction of the listeners ? They would obviously be not interested. Was there any problem in the communication skills of the leader or he didn’t have the right attitude ? The displeasure of the listeners was simply because the speaker ignored the social set up of the place where he was communicating. He forgot the sentiments, cultural beliefs, religious feelings of the second party. Had it been a Hindu dominated society, his speech would have been very impressive. * Culture
Culture refers to the cultural background of the community or the listeners where the speaker is communicating or delivering his speech. * M - Message
When an individual converts his thoughts into words, a message is created. The process is also called as Encoding.
Any message further comprises of the following elements: * Content
One cannot show his grey matter to others to let him know what he is thinking. A thought has to be put into words and content has to be prepared. Content is actually the matter or the script of the conversation. It is in simpler words, the backbone of any communication.
Ted to Jenny -“I am really exhausted today, let’s plan for the movie tomorrow evening”.
Whatever Ted has communicated with Jenny is actually the content of the message. It is very important for the speaker to carefully choose the words and take good care of the content of the speech. The content has to be sensible, accurate, crisp, related to the thought to hit the listeners bang on and create an immediate impact. * Element
It has been observed that speech alone cannot bring a difference in the communication. Keep on constantly speaking and the listeners will definitely lose interest after some time. The speech must be coupled with lots of hand movements, gestures, postures, facial expressions, body movements to capture the attention of the listeners and make the speech impressive. Hand movements, gestures, postures, facial expressions, body movements, gestures all come under the elements of the message. * Treatment
Treatment is actually the way one treats his message and is conveys to the listeners. One must understand the importance of the message and must know how to handle it. If a boss wants to fire any of his employees, he has to be authoritative and can’t express his message in a casual way. This is referred to as the treatment of the message. One must understand how to present his message so that the message is conveyed in the most accurate form. * Structure
A message cannot be expressed in one go. It has to be properly structured in order to convey the message in the most desired form. * Code
Enter a wrong code and the locks will never open. Enter a wrong password, you will not be able to open your email account. In the same way the code has to be correct in the communication. 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. * C - Channel
Channel - Channel actually refers to the medium how the information flows from the sender to the receiver.
How does one know what the other person is speaking ? - Through Hearing.
How does one know whether the pasta he has ordered is made in white sauce or not ? - Through Tasting.
How does one know that there is a diversion ahead or it’s a no parking zone? - Through Seeing.
How will an individual come to know that the food is fresh or stale? How do we find out the fragrance of a perfume? - Through Smelling.
How will you find out whether the milk is hot or not? - Through Touching.
All the five senses are the channels which help human beings to communicate with each other. * R - Receiver
When the message reaches the receiver, he tries to understand what the listener actually wants to convey and then responds accordingly. This is also called as decoding.
The receiver should be on the same platform as the speaker for smooth flow of information and better understanding of the message. He should possess good communication skills to understand what the speaker is trying to convey. He should have the right attitude to understand the message in a positive way. His knowledge should also be at par with the listener and must know about the subject. He should also be from the same social and cultural background just like the speaker.
There are several loopholes in the Berlo’s model of communication. According to the berlo’s model of communication, the speaker and the listener must be on a common ground for smooth conversion which is sometimes not practical in the real scenario.
According to Berlo, the source “encodes message intended to produce desired response from receiver”. The source-encoder is influenced by four factors: the source’s communication skills, attitudes, knowledge level, and position within the social-cultural system. The message is encoded by the source and reflects these influences. The message itself is “the actual physical product of the source- encoder”, and relies on three factors: the message code, content, and treatment. The channel is “how the message will be transmitted”, meaning the determination of which senses will be utilized so that the receiver has the greatest opportunity to accurately interpret the message. It is crucial to note that the communication- receiver is influenced by the same factors as the source-encoder. Without accounting for the four critical factors of communications skills, attitudes, knowledge level, and social-cultural system position of the receiver, the sender is less likely to be able to communicate a message in an effective manner. When the message is decoded as the source intended the receiver is able to provide an effective response, thus exchanging roles with the original source-encoder (Berlo, 1960).
An interpretation of the SMCR model, along with possible applications, is provided by Mielke, who has created a table incorporating SMCR with a list of possible options. The author provides five “tests,” which exist to “make sure the proper route is being used in the SMCR model” (Mielke, 1999). These tests serve the purpose of predicting whether a message should be conveyed successfully, and provide a structure with which the SMCR model can be used.