Time allocated for this discipline: one lecture every two weeks, one seminar every second week during the 5th semester (the 1st semester of the 3rd year of study), that is to say, seven lectures and seven seminars.
Course delivered by PhD in Philology Mihaela Maria Iulia BUIA
What is a model? What is a communication model? What is the role of a communication model? Do communication models perform certain specific functions? What are the advantages and the disadvantages of a communication model? Why is there such a wide range of communication models? Is the type of a communication model related to the type of communication? A few considerations regarding the evolution of the communication models
Motto: “I remind myself every morning: Nothing I say this day
will teach me anything. So if I’m going to learn, I must do it by listening.”
The following presentation has at least the following aims in view:
- to draw up a concise exposition of the main concepts and approaches pertaining to the most important models of interhuman communication; - to help the students become familiar with the specific English terminology in the field; - to offer a comprehensive References list to all those interested in the attractive, challenging but sine qua non and somehow tricky field of communication; the works on the list aren’t only related to the communication models, they are more comprehensive, dwelling upon a lot of other subject matters within the wide communication domain; - to encourage the students make use of the rich information and knowledge offered by the electronic sources so easily available and affordable .
Source: www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/l/larry_king.html Accessed 09.11.2008
What is a model?
Definitions there are plenty. Anyone that is willing to spend some more time looking up in dictionaries, glossaries, encyclopedias and specialized articles can gather a collection of definitions of the word model. The first problem is which definition to choose. We may assume that the choice highly depends on the field and the context within which we need/intend to use this word. Or we may take into consideration several definitions. The second problem is that probably no definition so far elaborated can meet all the requirements of all the domains and contexts. Consequently, many authors that need to use this word conceive their own definitions that can be accepted as such or criticized by other authors. The diversity of the definitions comprises, among others, causal models, computer models, statistical models, mathematical models, geological models, molecular models, business models, scale models, and of course communication models. Generally speaking, a model is an abstraction, a more or less simplified (graphical) representation or description of an object, process, system and the like. It is a theoretical construct, sometimes considered a (complex) pattern. The model of a model is a meta-model. Models are very useful not only because they point out in an organized way the essential, specific components of the represented items and the relations between/among them, but also because they may raise questions as to the less known or even still unknown sides/aspects/functioning of whatever objects, systems or processes are represented. Models differ from the point of view of their degree of comprehensiveness, too. There are, of course, many types of models, but for the purposes of this approach only the types of the communication models are to be considered. Some models are more influential than others, probably due to their capacity to better represent what they are meant to represent as well as thanks to their heuristic potential. Variations of such models have been developed by various researchers. This is the case with the well-known Shannon-Weaver mathematical model.
What is a communication model?
In order to avoid misinterpretations and ambiguities, one should first decide what communication is. For the purpose of this presentation mention has to be made that interhuman communication is the only one to be analyzed and described. Next, we need to specify that there are many types of it, most of the authors agreeing upon the existence of the following: intrapersonal communication; interpersonal communication; group communication; mass communication; public communication.
One can’t avoid mentioning that certain authors divide group communication into two subcategories, namely small group communication and corporate/organizational communication. The numerous studies in the field and the wide, related terminology also contains man – computer communication, man – machine communication, man – robot communication, xenocommunication, but these – and many others, not mentioned here – are beyond the boundaries of the interhuman communication in its classic acceptance. The first matter to settle we are confronted with while studying communication is whether there is a definition of communication comprehensive enough in order to satisfy the requirements of all the abovementioned types of interhuman communication. The debates related to this issue will inevitably continue, remarkable authors striving to find more objective arguments in favour of their own definitions and on the other hand trying to attack and even demolish the peers’ definitions. Briefly, interhuman communication is an exchange of information of any kind between a sender and a receiver. According to some sources, there are “probably more than 125 published definitions of communication depending on the field of endeavour” 2.
Source: What is Communication? http://220.127.116.11/search/cache?ei=UTF-8&p+types+of +noise... Accessed 04.12.2007
A communication model can be considered a good one if its components and the relations between/among them manage to represent the process of communication according to its author’s viewpoint. But there are at least three other issues to be considered: noise (any kind of undesired interference), redundancy (non-uniqueness, not really necessary) and entropy (the degree of uncertainty).
An interesting approach
An interesting approach to communication models is the one belonging to Christine Garlough.3 She points out that there are certain dangerous “misconceptions about the process of communication”. They are dangerous since, because of them, we may be disappointed in case reality doesn’t come up to our expectations. Here are the misconceptions she mentions: - “communication is a panacea; - communication can break down; - communication encompasses a specific set of skills.”4 According to the same author, “ the ultimate goal of communication is understanding despite ambiguity.”5 And understanding is dependent upon the following factors: - “situational contexts; - cultural assumptions; - age; - gender; - social status.”6 Garlough also pays closer attention to the various degrees of awareness manifested in different communication contexts. Three of her considerations in this respect are remarkable: - “different audiences and situations require different communication strategies; - people are aware of this to varying degrees; - effective communicators are very aware and behave accordingly.”7
Professor Christine Garlough: Communication and Human Behavior. (University of Wisconsin – Madison, Dpt. of Communication Studies. Source: www.commarts.wisc.edu/Fac/Garlough/Lectures... Accessed: 07.12.2008 4 idem 5 idem 6 idem
Her definition of communication makes reference to the environment, considering that it is “a social process in which individuals employ symbols to establish and interpret meaning in their environment.”8
Components of the communication models
What’s definitely sure is that a good communication model has to contain all the components of the represented item – irrespective of the type of communication taken into consideration - and the relations/links/connections between/among them. Most of the early models only represented the “hard” , non-abstract, rather tangible components, the relations between/among them being suggested by means of lines or arrows. More recent models have focused their attention on the abstract, intangible components, too, this being an important progress. a) The most important classic (as we may call them) components are as follows: (source of) information, sender/emitter, code, the process of encoding, channel, receiver, the process of decoding, feedback, noise. In so far as the intrapersonal communication is concerned, one may use the same components, but we have to be aware that, since the sender and the receiver are one and the same entity, the entire process has certain special features that should be reflected by the model. b) As the interest in the study of interhuman communication in general, and of models in particular has evolved, other terminological items have subsequently been added, most of them belonging either to the abstract category, or to the highly comprehensive one (all of them being necessary for the new approaches to models), such as: environment, context, influence, effect, motivation, preferences, option, satisfaction, comparison, diagnosing, evaluation, choice, attractiveness, accessibility, attitude, rewards, expectations etc.
All the components deserve thorough analyses, especially because various approaches are “hidden” beyond the same words. Here are a few considerations concerning noise and feedback.
Types of noise
Irrespective of the type of communication, noise may occur, and usually it does. Is it a component of the communication process, or is it a dysfunctional item that can distort, more or less, the message? Since there are many kinds of noise, they have to be grouped into types. And they also have to be represented in all those models of communication within which they interfere. In brief, many models do not represent noise. Some others only manage to suggest its interference, but fortunately certain more complex ones take into consideration various types of noise and the related impact. This is very important since in reality, noise, in one form or another, interferes in any process or act of communication. The question is: can there be noise-free communication ? The wider the range of noises one is going to consider, the more certain the answer is in the negative, or in other words, the existence and interference of noise is part of each and every communication context. The generally accepted types of noise are: - mechanical noises ---> these are usually related to the technical components/aspects of the channel through which the message is transmitted and they are caused by inappropriate functioning, usage or maintenance of some devices or equipment; - semantic noises ---> their main source is made up of the sociocultural differences between the sender and the receiver of a message. Both types comprise a wide range of noises. According to other authors9, there are four types of noise, namely:
Source: http://18.104.22.168/search/cache?ei=UTF-8&p=types+0f+noise... Accessed 04.12.2007
- semantic noise ---> it occurs whenever “the sender fails to translate the message into a language appropriate for the audience” ; - mechanical noise ---> it “comes from the message itself” ; - psychological noise ---> it “is inherent to the reader” ; - environmental noise ---> it “exists in the reader’s environment”. The four types above “are arranged in order of the sender’s control”. 10
Types of feedback
Feedback as a concept in the communication process wasn’t used by Shannon and Weaver; it is an important contribution of Norbert Wiener11 and it was then used by many researchers interested to perform further studies in the field. Since it is, in fact, the answer, the response, the reaction of the receiver to the message of the sender, the feedback can be both verbal and nonverbal. The feedback techniques most frequently used in the context of direct, faceto-face communication are: direct question; indirect question; question with suggested answer; rephrasing; short confirmation or rejection; active listening.
Active listening means no talking whatsoever, or silence. It is considered a positive feedback when the receiver is focused on the sender’s message, or in those instances when the receiver takes his time to think about the implications/consequences of the message. But silence may also be a negative kind of feedback; it so happens when the receiver of an inconvenient message refuses to answer and accompanies his offending silence by reproachful/menacing/piercing eyes. For the sender of the message, a feedback of any kind is very useful since it provides him with the necessary guiding lines as to how to continue the dialogue/the conversation. It also represents a sort of measure of the
idem Norbert Wiener has introduced it in 1948. See Wikipedia
receiver’s implication in, and interest regarding the topic initiated by the sender. It is not the number of components of a model that ensures its value. The relations between/among them seem more important. Certain communication theorists tried to make models starting from the assumption that “every part of the system is so related to every other part that any change in one aspect results in dynamic changes in all other parts of the total system” , 12 as Hall and Hagen have underlined about half a century ago, in light of General Systems Theory. 13
What is the role of a communication model? Do communication models perform certain specific functions?
The role of a concept, of a notion is always important because it helps us understand its functions performed within the context/domain that has generated the necessity of its very existence. The research in the field of communication of any kind has always been related – one way or another – to the functions performed by the analyzed process or/and by its components. In order to successfully debate upon this topic, we first need to choose a definition of the model from among the numerous ones existing in the specialized literature. Thus, Mortensen said: “In the broadest sense, a model is a systematic representation of an object or event in idealized and abstract form. Models are somewhat arbitrary by their nature.”14 We may add that the arbitrary character stems from the process of abstracting and idealizing the real object or event in question. In the same chapter he underlines that “Communication models are merely pictures; they’re even distorting pictures, because they
Kaminski, S.: Communication Models. Source: http://www.shkaminski.com/Classes/Handouts/Communication%...pg. 19. Accessed: 27.10.2008. 13 idem 14 Mortensen, C. David : Communication: The Study of Human Communication. (Chapter 2, “Communication Models”. McGraw-Hill Book Co., New York, 1972), apud Kaminski, S.
stop or freeze an essentially dynamic interactive or transactive process into a static picture.” 15 The next step is undoubtedly the need to define the two concepts representing the key terms in this section of our presentation, i.e. role and function. One can easily find their definitions in any dictionary, but we have to adapt them and to adopt those that best meet the requirements of this presentation. Thus, in various domains (not in mathematics) function as a concept means a special activity or aim, and role can be defined as the capacity to assume and perform a function/several functions. As to the functions of communication models, they depend on the way the author of a given model sees/understands the functions of communication. Anyway, their ultimate role is to represent the communication process.
What are the advantages communication model?
We have to be aware that no model can be perfect, so we ought to be prepared to accept both their advantages and disadvantages.
Firstly, models have many advantages, or strong points, such as: - they are simplified representations that provide a general/global perspective over the represented item; the more complicated the real object/item, the more useful is the model, without which, in certain cases, it would be very difficult to get an aggregate picture of the represented whole; - they can help us identify the essence, the core, the major components of the represented item, without ignoring its complexity; that’s because certain details may sometimes not be very important; - according to Mortensen, models can lead to new discoveries or at least to new interpretations, in other words, they “have heuristic value” 16 , and this “may well be their most important function” 17; - they are highly practical.
idem idem, pg. 2 17 idem
Do models have disadvantages, too? Maybe there are no disadvantages, there only are certain limitations resulting from simplification, such as: - they can lead to oversimplification; it may so happen whenever certain important components/characteristics of the represented item are ignored, being superficially evaluated; for the sake of simplification, a model may miss some important elements; - since the models are useful, that is, more convenient to use than a highly complex real item, they can be treated as a friendly substitute of the real item; from this point of view, they behave as a trap that can become dangerous because we may be tempted to judge and interpret a certain item of reality as if it were identical with its model; in other words, beware: “the map is not the territory; ” 18 - models may limit to a certain extent any further exploration of the represented item, some important aspects remaining thus unknown/unrevealed/unclarified; the only solution is to admit that a model of no matter what is not a unique construct, because “reality can be represented in any number of ways.” 19
Why is there such a wide range of communication models?
First of all, a wide range of anything means variety by all means. And variety is a positive characteristic of reality in all its aspects. Secondly, the same item of reality can be seen, decoded, understood and represented in different ways by different communicators. In other words, the existence of a wide range of models is a sort of confirmation as well as an extension of the well-known words of wisdom non idem est si duo dicunt idem. Thirdly, every author involved in the efforts of creating his own communication model tries to make it both effective and efficient. The question is, what’s the difference ? Irrespective of the context, being effective means being capable to accomplish a purpose, to reach a goal, to produce the planned/expected results. Being efficient means functioning/acting/performing in the best possible way, with the least waste of time, energy, resources. It is obvious how difficult it is to conceive a model capable to meet all these requirements. So, everybody involved in the
idem, pg. 3 idem
field should at least try that, and indeed many authors do try it, and that accounts for such a great number of models. At the same time, the existence of many models can better enhance the chances of choosing the most suitable one for the specific purposes of any research. On the other hand, there are arguments according to which “When in comes to communication, becoming more efficient may mean becoming less effective”20 But no matter how many models we are willing to consider, the “classic ones” keep being considered a sort of basic bricks and this fact “should be regarded as a mark of the enduring value of these models”21.
Some of the most important communication models
(according to the names of their authors) Roman Jakobson22 The well-known linguist elaborated a model of interpersonal verbal communication, largely highlighting the importance of the social context involved as well as the factors and functions pertaining to it. According to him, the six components and the functions involved in any linguistic communication event are the following: the referent -----> the referential function; the emitter/addresser -----> the expressive function; the receiver/addressee -----> the conative function; the channel -----> the phatic function; the code -----> the metalinguistic function “metalingual”); - the message -----> the poetic function.
Mention should be made of the fact that Jakobson argued that in any given context one of these components/factors is dominant and the corresponding function influences the characteristics of the message taken as a whole. His
Richardson, M. : Effective vs. Efficient. Source: www.remodeling.hw.net/remodeling/effective-vs-efficient.aspx Accessed: 12.10.2008 21 Foulger, D.: Models of the Communication Process. Source: http://foulger.info/davis/research/unifiedModelOfCommunication.html Accessed: 14.12.2008 22 apud Dragan, I.: Comunicarea, vol. 1, pg. 93
model also demonstrates that messages and their meanings cannot be isolated from the other contextual factors. This model is still generating many debates and interpretations. Shannon and Weaver 23 The components of their linear model are: the source of information, the message, the emitter, the signal, the source of noise, the received signal, the means of receiving the signal, the message, the receiver. DeFleur developed this model, by taking into consideration the feedback. Lasswell’s formula24 points out that an act of communication can be correctly described if the following questions receive an answer: who? ------> says what? ------> through what channel? ------> to whom? -----> with what effect? - who? means the emitter and it implies the research of media institutions; - says what? means the message and consequently the content analysis; - through what channel? represents the means of communication and the analysis of their role; - to whom? means the receiver and the analysis of the audience; - with what effect? deals with the effects and their analysis. Lasswell is considered the founder of content analysis and of the domain of political psychology as well. Osgood and Schramm25 They have created a circular model, in order to demonstrate that the process of communication doesn’t start somewhere in order to end elsewhere, because we handle and reorientate endless flaws of information. According to them, there is a codifier that sends a message to a decodifier, who also sends a message, thus becoming a codifier; the initial codifier thus becomes a decodifier; both of them are interpreters. A weak point of this
For details see also McQuail & Windahl, pg. 21 idem, pg. 19 25 idem, pg. 23
model could be considered the impression it creates that communication is symmetrical, when, in fact, it isn’t. Dance26 His helical model draws the attention on the fact that the communication process is dynamic, because all the elements, relations and contexts involved in communication are permanently changing, expanding. Gerbner27 This is a multifunctional model, being highly adaptable to the specificity of the context described. All its components can be “relocated” so as to best describe a certain communication event or process. There are two versions of this model, namely a descriptive one and a graphic one. Here are the components of this model and their involvement in the study of communication: 1. someone (research related to the audience and the emitter) 2. perceives an event (research and theories related to perception) 3. and reacts (the study of the effects, of the impact) 4. in a situation (the study of the physical and social context within which reception takes place) 5. with certain means (the study of the channels, of the communication means, of the control on equipment and technologies) 6. in order to make available (the study of the managerial problems, of the broadcasting means, of the possibilities of having access to media information) 7. in a certain form (the study of the journalistic styles, of the way of organizing the content of the various broadcast types) 8. and within a certain context (the study of the overall communication context) 9. a certain content (content analysis and the analysis of the media “text” significance) 10. the transmission of which has certain consequences (the study of the overall effect of the media).28 Gerbner underlines that his model can be used for several purposes, such as in order to describe interpersonal communication as well as communication based on reach technological endowment. Taken in aggregate, this model has several original contributions, for instance the communication process is
idem, pg. 25 idem, pg. 26 28 idem, pg. 27
considered “subjective, selective, variable and unpredictable” (apud Tran and Stănciugelu). Newcomb29 This model – also called “the ABX model” – has the form of a triangle; its two basic angles represent two persons, A and B, and the third angle, X, represents an object situated in their common environment. The two persons A and B are oriented both towards each other and towards X and communication is perceived as a process that maintains the structure of the relation. The basic assumption is that, the context permitting, the intense effort towards the harmonization of attitudes and relations will simply intensify the communication process at the most. McLeod and Chaffee30 It is an interesting model having the shape of a kite, the components being the public and the elites, the media and the themes. The two researchers called this model “the co-orientation approach” and it can be applied in the public relations domain, too. The main piece of novelty offered by this model is the fact that A and B represent systems of roles having distinct motivations. Cuilenburg and Noomen31 The influencing process presented by the two authors can be briefly described as follows: - the sent messages (C) are filtered and analyzed by the receivers; the most usual aggregate effect is that there are fewer chances for the dissonance to appear and more chances for the consonance to be maintained – this is type (A) situation; - the context changes, potential dissonance situations appear, with new or divergent opinions – this is type (B) situation; - dissonance activates the social and psychological processes ( especially the personal implications and the group norms); consequently, the two possibilities of balance restoration are tailored,
idem, pg. 30 idem, pg. 33 31 idem, pg. 35
i.e. the modification of the perception concerning the source (C), or the modification of the opinion or attitude involved (D). Mention should be made that balance is the normal, comfortable state of consonance between the source and the receiver. This model is very useful while analyzing the changes of the public opinion when two opposite tendencies are manifested, one towards consensus (resulting from the convergence of opposite points of view) and the other one towards polarization (resulting from divergence). Related key terms: boomerang effect, resemblance versus divergence. Rogers and Kincaid32 Most of the communication processes take place within a context of potential agreement, the dominant tendency being that of consensus and consonance. The model of the above-mentioned authors shows the relationship between A and B, the two participants in a communication situation. Starting from an exchange of information, a cyclic process of evolution towards reciprocal understanding takes place. Here is the cycle: - A and B exchange information; - B interprets and answers; - these two stages are repeated until the highest level of understanding is reached. This model is considered adequate for the developing countries especially, because there the gaps between the emitters ant the receivers have to be smoothed, diminished, and this aim can only be accomplished by communication capable to strengthen reciprocal trust. Westley and MacLean33 Their model can be considered an adaptation of the model elaborated by Newcomb. It is important because it emphasizes the most significant and at the same time specific characteristics of the mass communication process. It
idem, pg. 37 idem, pg. 39
also helps the question-raising approach; the answers help us better represent the real situations we meet in mass communication, especially those related to the role of the emitter and of the media institutions. Initially, the two American authors described the process of interpersonal communication, later only they extended their model to the mass communication process, emphasizing its complexity and the role of feedback. Analysing this model, McQuail underlines that according to it mass communication can be regarded from three distinct perspectives: of the media, of the sources and of the public. The model has, of course, several weak points, one of them being the exaggeration of media institution independence from society, especially in so far as the political matters and the official state interests are concerned. Maletzke34 This is a highly complex model. It can be considered a synthesis of the research performed all along two decades from a psycho-sociological perspective. It still proves to be very useful when studying mass communication processes. Both the emitter and the receiver are influenced by several factors, such as: - the image of the self; - the personality structure; - the image of the emitter about the receiver and vice versa; - the spontaneous feedback ; - their social milieu etc. The researcher points out certain elements of the model the selection and modeling of the message depends on, such as the pressure of the message – the emitter is obliged to adapt the form of the message to the type of the content. DeFleur35 Certain theorists have studied communication models from the point of view of the following factors: - personal influence;
idem, pg. 45 idem, pg. 55
- broadcasting theories; - the short-term effects of mass communication upon the individuals. The result of this approach was a series of stimulus-response models. The main elements of such a model are; - the message ( which is the stimulus); - the receiver ( a person); - the effect ( the response). DeFleur’s psychodynamic model shows that the inner psychological structure interferes as a variable in the effects process. In other words, persuasion consists in the modification of the inner psychological structure of the individual and consequently the desired behavioural responses are obtained. Katz and Lazarsfeld36 The two researchers elaborated the so-called “the two-step flaw model.” Its origin was the study of the effects of mass communication during an election campaign ( for the presidential elections in 1940 in The U.S.A.). The result of the study was an influential theory concerning the role of the “leaders of opinion” and of the “ personal influence” . Briefly, it was concluded that mass media doesn’t operate in a social vacuum; on the contrary, it operates within the framework of a highly complex network of social relations, being permanently in competition with influential sources of ideas, information, power etc. And what’s more, in reality there are several flaws of alternative processes of communication, most of them having many stages that in aggregate generate a very complex context within which influences compete. Comstock37 This model systematizes the numerous previous empirical research regarding the direct effects of television on the human behaviour. The model is primarily focused on aggressiveness and delinquency, but it can be used for various other purposes, such as the study of the imitation of any kind of behaviour presented by some TV programmes.
idem, pg. 57 idem, pg. 61
The model is presented as a form of an itinerary an individual has to go through, in the meantime having to make decisions as to whether or nor to imitate/adopt a certain behaviour. The critics have reached the conclusion that this model is better able to raise questions, rather than give solutions. Nevertheless, it can still be used for further research regarding the effects. Rogers and Shoemaker38 The main goal of their model is that of presenting the complex process of innovation broadcasting. It underlines the existence of at least four stages: - knowledge: the individual is the target of an information campaign regarding the “appearance” of an innovation and as a result of a successful campaign he/she understands to a certain degree what is all about; - persuasion: the individual is capable to take either a favourable or unfavourable attitude regarding the innovation; - decision: the individual gets involved in contexts/in some actions that force him to make a decision: should he/she adopt or reject the innovation? - confirmation: the individual is searching for some reconfirmation proofs: has he/she made the right decision ( when adopting or rejecting the innovation); in case the search results contradict his/her decision, he/she may drop it, may have second thoughts. The critics of this model say it would be more complete, more useful if the authors had taken into consideration the existence of certain feedback loops that may occur all along the four stages. Chaffee, Greenberg and Schramm39 There are some communication models specific to news diffusion. They are very useful for the research concerning the way news of various kinds get spread through very large areas, the time needed to reach its target depending on various factors.
idem, pg. 66 idem, pg. 70
According to Chaffee’s model, there is a “normal” curb of information diffusion. But there are also three types of exceptions from normality: - incomplete diffusion, when information doesn’t reach the entire population; - too accelerated diffusion ( not always/not entirely justified), under the “impact” of the source; - too slow diffusion (for various reasons). It results that the source may impose some constraints, not necessarily to the benefit of the target audience. The communication process involved in the diffusion of news events drew the attention of the researchers especially after Kennedy’s assassination in 1963. The “curb J model” presents the relation between two factors: - the total number of those who have found about a certain event; - the number of those who have found about a certain event from nonmedia sources. Greenberg pointed out that events are of three types from the point of view of their importance: - of reduced general importance; - of general importance; - highly important, dramatic. The speed of diffusion is dependent upon the degree of importance. Graber40 News processing and diffusion have long become a topic of utmost interest and consequently many researchers try to design a logical model capable not to miss any of the stages that make up news processing. Graber’s model was built on the basis of Axelrod’s “schema theory” that describes “an information processing model of perception and cognition”. According to this approach, the correct interpretation of the news takes place according to a logic path imposed by the emitter. But subsequent research showed that the news of any kind can be interpreted in very different ways.
idem, pg. 81
Irrespective of the interpretation (i.e., be it according to, close to, or distinct from the one the emitter had in view), the news have information value, and this is very important. Brouwer41 The author makes an analogy between the formation of the public opinion, through mass media, for instance, and the speedy way mushrooms appear under certain circumstances. According to his “mushroom model”, mass media are the visible part of the mushroom, while the interpersonal communication and debate networks are the roots of the mushroom. The opinions expressed in mass media are not a cause of those networks, on the contrary, they are a result of the processes taking place within them. This model is extremely useful not only for the study of mass media effects upon the public opinion, but also for the study and interpretation of rumours. These constitute a special kind of interpersonal communication, based on personal interpretations, exaggerations motivated by personal interests. Under special circumstances, they can generate a dangerous behaviour with negative effects at a large scale. Peirce His triadic model has three components, i.e. the sign, the interpretant and the object. Here is, in a few words, his own explanation of the relations between two of them: “ [A sigh] stands for [its] object, not in all respects, but in reference to a sort of idea, which I have sometimes called the ground of [the sign].”42The interpretant is also a representation that refers to the same object. According to him, there are three kinds of signs: indices, icons and symbols. Galtung and Ruge They have studied the process of selecting the flaws of news that appear in the media ( the gatekeeping process).
idem, pg. 83 apud Zeman, J. : Peirce’s Theory of Signs. Source: http://web.clas.ufl.edu/users/jzeman/peirces_theory_of_signs.htm Accessed: 10.12.2008
Then they have elaborated a model containing the 12 criteria that confer value to the news.
Types of communication models and orientations
The above-described models are not the only communication models so far conceived. There are many others, too, more or less important thanks to their impact upon the study of the communication process. It is obvious that whenever there is a great number of an item, those items can be grouped according to/divided into categories or types, according to the number of criteria one is capable to identify or to imagine. This holds good for the communication models, too. Thus, there is Roman Jakobson’s linguistic model. The author adopted a functional viewpoint and operates a distinction between the form and the content of a message. Another model of linguistic communication is that of Catherine KerbratOrecchioni has several new components as compared to the previous one, such as “ constraints” and “competences”; the authoress explains the role of “the constraints imposed by the discursive universe” and of the “linguistic, paralinguistic, ideological and cultural competences”. A special, close attention has to be paid to the models belonging to the semiotic orientation, or the semiotic school. 43 Ferdinand de Saussure is considered the founder of modern linguistics and of semiology. By means of his model he wants to show that the relation between the real object and the concept that represents it is the important operation of significance by means of which people grant meanings to reality, thus understanding it. The models conceived by Peirce, Ogden and Richards also belong to the semiotic school. They focus their interest on the study of the text and culture, their methods resulting from the semiotic approach. One and the same text may be interpreted in very many ways, depending on the readers and their cultural background.
apud Tran and Stănciugelu
The approach of other authors and their models belong to the so-called process school, comprising Shannon and Weaver, Lasswell, Gerbner, Newcomb, Westley and MacLean and others, less famous. They are all interested in the study of all the matters related to the effectiveness and accuracy involved in message transmission, because for all of them communication is a process by means of which an individual can influence the behaviour or the mood of another individual. If the effect of the message differs from the expected one, that is, from the intention, it means that item of communication failed. As it has become obvious, models can be studied from the point of view of the distinct field their authors represent or belong to. Thus, there are linguistic, semiotic, sociologic, mathematical, informational, behaviorist, functionalist models. Linear vs. transactional models Some communication models are linear, some others are transactional. The main differences between the two types have been pointed out in many “teaching modules” dealing with “Understanding the Characteristics and Functions of the Human Communication Process” 44. Linear communication models consider communication as a one-way process where A sends a message to B. Transactional communication models take into consideration the interactions between A and B, feedback occurs because communication is a two-way dynamic process.
Is the type of a communication model related to the type of communication?
Since models are expected to accurately represent an item of reality, there have to be many models, even many types of models. This holds good for communication models, too. We may be tempted to believe that they can be grouped into several types, according to the types of communication we are ready to accept.
Source: http://homepages.wmich.edu/~cedwards/Teachingmodules/modules/Characteristics of the Human Communication Process.pdf Accessed: 12.10.2008
But there are researchers considering the separation of interpersonal and mass communication is an “intellectual” separation, having its origin in some “historical convenience and university politics”45. If one adopts such an approach, the conclusion should be that the types of communication models are not related to the types of communication. Names of models Of course, each model has been given the name of its author; in addition to that, its name may contain some other words that can best describe in brief the type or the characteristics of that model: mathematical model (such as Shannon and Weaver’s), multifunctional model (for instance Gerbner’s), coorientation approach model, also called kite co-orientation model (thus called by McLeod and Chaffee), agenda setting model (according to Dearing and Rogers), conceptual model (elaborated by Westley and MacLean), ritual model (Carey’s), psychodynamic model (elaborated by DeFleur), news processing model (according to Graber), mushroom model (based on Brouwer’s theory), dependency model of mass media effects (developed by Ball-Rokeach and DeFleur), uses and gratifications model (initially elaborated by Blumler and Katz and then developed by Rosengren), expectancy-value approach to media model (by Palmgreen and Rayburn), social action model (by Renckstorf), encoding and decoding model (according to Hall), discursive model (by Fiske), choice process model (by Webster and Wakshlag), categories of target audience model (Clausse’s), factorial model (by Leggatt), reporter and source roles model (elaborated by Gieber and Johnson), gatekeeper/gatekeeping models (such as White’s), flow of news model (by McNelly), communication campaign model (elaborated by Nowak and Wärneryd), integrated model of the hierarchy of effects (by Chaffee and Roser), agent-popularity model (according to Grunig and Hunt), communication policy model (Salvaggio’s), models of the international flaw of information (elaborated by Mowlana) etc. After the early linear models, other, more complicated models were conceived, their names including words chosen from the domain of geometry: circular, spiral, helical. Concluding, we may say that communication models have a spectacular evolution and so does the terminology related to them, and this is pointed out by their names.
Reardon, K. K. and Rogers, E. M. : Interpersonal Versus Mass Media Communication: A False Dichotomy. Source: www.blackwell-synergy.com/doi/pdf/10/111/j... Accessed: 12.12.2008
A few considerations regarding the evolution of the communication models The largest the number of the models studied, the more valuable the conclusions regarding the evolution of models. Conclusions, too, can vary, because they are related to the domains of interest of those who study and use the models. Nevertheless, we can try to identify those, probably few, conclusions that may be accepted by most of those involved in the study of the communication process. Here they are: 1. communication models evolve towards complexity; 2. communication models evolve from structures mainly based on rather tangible components towards structures also taking into consideration intangible components; 3. communication models evolved towards catching the specificity of the process of communication, its dynamic nature; 4. despite their evolution, there is no perfect communication model as yet; 5. in spite of their inherent limitations (weak points), communication models are still (considered) very useful. In the numberless pages written on communication one can find interesting ideas related to (the chain of) responsibility. It is a sort of list comprising all those responsible, one way or another, for “the fate” of the message. Of course, such a list only contains human beings, they being the only entities that can be responsible for no matter what. What about the responsibility concerning the elaboration and utilisation of a communication model? The process of simplification that undoubtedly interferes whenever one conceives a model involves responsibility, or so it should. But what should that kind of responsibility involve? First of all, close attention should be paid to all the details before ignoring them in the name of simplification, because any detail may mean next to nothing to someone, but it may mean a lot to someone else. In other words, their heuristic value should not be affected. Secondly, all those who intend to use a model in order to analyse a communication process should choose it carefully, being aware that a wrong selection may compromise the results of the analysis.
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