Schramm Communication Model

The Schramm communication model regards communication as a two-way, cyclical process between an encoder and a decoder.

Understanding the Schramm communication model

The Schramm communication model was created in 1954 by Wilbur Schramm, widely considered to be one of the pioneering founders in the field of communication studies. 

Schramm took inspiration from psychologist Charles Osgood, who thought communication to be a cyclical (and not linear) process. For this reason, Schramm’s model is also known as the Osgood-Schramm model of communication.

Schramm suggested communication was a cyclical, two-way process where the sender and receiver each take turns to send and receive messages. He also believed the flow of information around this cycle could only be maintained if both individuals understood what the other was saying.

If the receiver cannot comprehend the information being sent to them, communication breaks down. The communication cycle is not completed until the sender gets feedback from the receiver that their message has been successfully interpreted.

The five components of the Schramm communication model

To better explain this process, Schramm identified five components of two-way communication:

  1. Sender (encoder) – the person sending the message. For effective communication to take place, the sender must encode the message so it can be understood by the receiver. This means ensuring the message is relevant, essential, precise, clear, and legible.
  2. Receiver (decoder) – the person receiving the message who must decode it by using reading, listening, or interpretive skills. Decoding helps the receiver make sense of the information being conveyed to them. The receiver is sometimes called the interpreter because they work to analyze and understand the message. Communication can be hindered when the receiver misunderstands or misinterprets the message sent to them. Typically, this occurs in communication between two people from different backgrounds, skillsets, cultures, or languages. 
  3. Message – or the communication passed from the sender to the receiver. It may take the form of text, audio, video, or a combination thereof. In some cases, the message may be communicated non-verbally using body language or facial expressions.
  4. Feedback – where the receiver sends information back to the sender based on the message they received. When feedback occurs, the sender and receiver switch roles and the process repeats until the communication ceases. Feedback can be verbal or non-verbal and plays an important role in effective communication. If the receiver is unable to understand the sender, they use feedback to ask the sender for a more simplified or comprehendible message. 
  5. Semantic noise – or any interruption during the communication process that disrupts the message being sent. Noise may dilute or alter the meaning of a message which results in misinterpretation and is typically auditory. For example, communication may be hindered by a plane passing overhead or a loud television.

Key takeaways:

  • The Schramm communication model regards communication as a two-way, cyclical process between an encoder and a decoder. It was created in 1954 by Wilbur Schramm who based the model on the work of psychologist Charles Osgood.
  • The Schramm communication model argues communication is a two-way process where a sender and receiver each take turns sending and receiving messages. Information flow is continuous and cyclical so long as messages are properly interpreted during each cycle.
  • The Schramm communication model identifies five components that help explain the communication process. These include sender, receiver, message, feedback, and semantic noise.

Read Next: What Is A Linear Model Of Communication?

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