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. The Schramm communication model regards communication as a two-way, cyclical process between an encoder and a decoder.
|Concept Overview||The Schramm Communication Model, developed by Wilbur Schramm in 1954, is a theoretical framework that explains the process of communication. It focuses on how messages are transmitted and received between a sender and a receiver, considering various factors that influence effective communication.|
|Elements of Communication||This model identifies three key elements in communication: the source (sender), the message, and the receiver. The source is the individual or entity initiating the communication, the message is the information being transmitted, and the receiver is the recipient of the message.|
|Encoding and Decoding||Schramm’s model emphasizes that encoding (by the source) and decoding (by the receiver) are central to communication. Encoding involves translating thoughts or ideas into a message, while decoding is the process of interpreting and understanding the message. Successful communication requires alignment in encoding and decoding.|
|Feedback||Feedback is an essential component of the Schramm Communication Model. It represents the response or reaction of the receiver to the message. Feedback can be verbal or non-verbal and helps the sender gauge the effectiveness of the communication and make necessary adjustments.|
|Noise||Noise refers to any interference or disruption that can affect the communication process. It can be external (e.g., background noise), internal (e.g., distractions), or semantic (e.g., language barriers). Reducing noise is crucial for clear and effective communication.|
|Communication Channels||The model acknowledges that messages can be transmitted through various channels, including face-to-face conversations, written documents, phone calls, emails, and more. The choice of channel can impact the effectiveness of communication, as some channels are more suitable for specific messages or contexts.|
|Implications||– Focus on Sender-Receiver Relationship: Emphasizes the relationship and interaction between the sender and receiver. – Importance of Feedback: Recognizes feedback as a critical element for gauging the effectiveness of communication. – Consideration of Noise: Highlights the need to minimize noise for clear communication. – Multiple Channels: Acknowledges the diversity of communication channels available.|
|Benefits||– Enhanced Understanding: Encourages effective encoding and decoding for better mutual understanding. – Improved Clarity: Recognizing the role of feedback and noise reduction leads to clearer communication. – Adaptability: Allows for choosing appropriate channels based on the message and context.|
|Drawbacks||– Simplified Model: Some critics argue that the model oversimplifies the complexities of real-world communication. – Limited Focus: Primarily focuses on interpersonal communication and may not fully address mass communication or digital communication. – Lack of Cultural Consideration: Doesn’t explicitly address cultural factors that influence communication.|
|Use Cases||– Interpersonal Communication: Applied to understand and improve communication between individuals or small groups. – Education: Used in teaching and learning contexts to emphasize effective communication between educators and students. – Organizational Communication: Relevant for improving communication within organizations. – Media Studies: Provides a foundational understanding of mass communication models.|
Wilbur Schramm was a prominent communication theorist and researcher who made significant contributions to the study of communication. He was a pioneer in the field of communication studies and is widely regarded as one of its founding fathers.
Schramm was one of the first to emphasize the importance of understanding the audience in communication. He believed that effective communication required an understanding of the needs, expectations, and attitudes of those who were receiving a message.
Schramm also conducted extensive research on the effects of media on individuals and society. With a core focus on the impact of television on children and adolescents, his research helped shape the field of media effects research.
In the early 1960s, the somewhat new and unknown field of communication studies was flush with resources that other, more established disciplines coveted.
But there was a problem. Communication studies as a discipline was not taken seriously, and this lack of legitimacy jeopardized whatever material riches it could benefit from.
With the field forced to justify its very existence, Schramm recruited four prominent social scientists from other disciplines: Kurt Lewin (psychology), Carl Hovland (psychology), Paul Lazarsfeld (sociology), and Harold Lasswell (political science).
Schramm later dubbed this quartet the founders of communication studies – a storyline adopted in most mass communication research textbooks and widely repeated today.
In the process, Schramm used disciplinary history to bridge the gap between the field’s lowly status and its institutional gains.
Building the field
When Schramm returned to the University of Iowa in 1943, he established a communication doctorate program around quantitative social science.
This program was far more ambitious than the one it replaced which was narrow and out of date.
Four years later, Schramm established the Division of Communications at the University of Illinois.
He later moved to Stanford University in 1955 where he served as the founding director of the Institute of Communications Research for 18 years.
Each of the three endeavors were the first of their kind to be established in the United States, but Schramm was not done yet.
With entrepreneurial flair, he bolstered the status of communication studies with readers, conferences, and a network of tenured scholars.
Understanding the Schramm communication model
The Schramm communication model was published in 1954 to improve on existing linear communication models such as those proposed by Shannon, Weaver, and Lasswell.
Specifically, Schramm introduced the concept of feedback loops because he believed communication was about sharing information. Later, in 1971, he updated the model to incorporate various communication contexts.
These contexts define the “psychological frame of reference” within which communication occurs and is otherwise referred to as the individual’s field of experience.
This field encompasses the individual’s experiences, attitudes, culture, and background, and for successful communication, Schramm believed the sender and receiver’s fields had to overlap.
Schramm and Osgood
Schramm also took inspiration from psychologist Charles Osgood, who thought communication to be a cyclical (and not linear) process.
Schramm suggested communication was a cyclical, two-way process where the sender and receiver each take turns sending and receiving 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:
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.
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.
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.
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. I
f the receiver is unable to understand the sender, they use feedback to ask the sender for a more simplified or comprehendible message.
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.
Schramm communication model advantages and disadvantages
- Simplicity: as a straightforward representation of the communication process, it’s very easy to understand and apply.
- Clarity: it sets very clearly the roles of the sender and receiver.
- Control: Since that is a linear model, in theory, it enables the sender and receiver to control the message, thus making the communication quite straightforward and with little noise.
- Feedback: compared to other linear model of communications, this model has an iterative loop between the sender and the receiver, which makes it more effective.
As a linear model of communication, though, it also carries some disadvantages, such as:
- Turn-based communication: Schramm saw communication as a turn-based process where one participant sends a message, the other responds in turn, and the first participant responds once more. However, in practice, this process does not occur sequentially but simultaneously as both individuals embody the sender and receive roles at the same time.
- Information and meaning: Schramm also believed that information (and its meaning) existed before communication took place. In other words, he saw the act of communication as simply the exchange of predetermined messages. This idea is rejected by constitutive models of communication which argue that meaning is created during the communication process. In fact, in most cases, the dialogue itself serves as the vehicle through which both parties construct meaning.
Schramm communication model vs. Transactional communication model
In a transactional communication model, context plays a key role.
Indeed, the transactional communication model looks at how the context is affected based on three elements:
It, on the other hand, loses in understanding the subtleties of the context in which the communication sits.
Key takeaways and examples
- 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.
- In a workshop setting, participants engage in two-way communication. The facilitator (sender) conveys information, while participants (receivers) actively respond with questions, comments, and feedback.
- Effective workshops ensure that participants not only receive information but also actively engage in discussions, leading to shared understanding.
- During a video conference, both the speaker (sender) and the remote participants (receivers) exchange messages.
- Feedback mechanisms such as chat, raised hands, or verbal responses enable real-time interaction, demonstrating the cyclical nature of communication in a virtual context.
- In team meetings, team members (senders and receivers) share updates, ideas, and proposals.
- Questions, clarifications, and discussions illustrate the continuous cycle of message exchange and feedback among team members.
Social Media Conversations:
- Social media platforms facilitate two-way communication between users. A user (sender) posts content or messages, while others (receivers) respond, comment, like, or share.
- The constant flow of messages and interactions on social media platforms exemplifies the cyclical nature of communication in the digital age.
- Parent-teacher meetings involve educators (senders) sharing information about a student’s progress and behavior with parents (receivers).
- Parents provide feedback, seek clarification, and discuss strategies, reflecting the interactive nature of effective parent-teacher communication.
Customer Service Interactions:
- In customer service interactions, customers (receivers) reach out with inquiries or concerns to service representatives (senders).
- Effective communication involves representatives actively listening, providing solutions, and seeking feedback to ensure customer satisfaction.
Town Hall Meetings:
- Town hall meetings feature elected officials or leaders (senders) addressing constituents (receivers) in a public forum.
- Audience questions, comments, and feedback create a dynamic exchange of messages and emphasize the importance of understanding the audience.
- In academic settings, instructors (senders) convey course content to students (receivers).
- Students ask questions, participate in discussions, and seek clarification, highlighting the interactive nature of learning and knowledge sharing.
- Online forums and discussion boards enable users (senders and receivers) to engage in conversations on various topics.
- Users post messages, respond to threads, and provide feedback, exemplifying the continuous flow of information in online communities.
- Collaborative problem-solving requires team members (senders and receivers) to exchange ideas, solutions, and feedback.
- The iterative process of proposing solutions, receiving input, and refining ideas underscores the importance of shared understanding and effective communication.
- Schramm Communication Model: The Schramm communication model, developed by Wilbur Schramm in 1954, presents communication as a two-way, cyclical process involving sender and receiver.
- Wilbur Schramm: A pioneering communication theorist, Schramm emphasized understanding the audience and contributed significantly to the establishment of communication studies as a legitimate field.
- Importance of Audience: Schramm’s insights underscored the need to comprehend the audience’s needs, attitudes, and expectations for effective communication.
- Incorporating Influential Figures: Schramm collaborated with notable social scientists to enhance the legitimacy of communication studies and elevate its status.
- Institutional Building: He played a crucial role in creating communication doctoral programs and divisions at prestigious universities, bolstering the field’s growth.
- Model Components: The Schramm model consists of five components: sender, receiver, message, feedback, and semantic noise.
- Sender and Receiver: Communication involves alternating roles of sending and receiving messages between participants, challenging the linear perspective.
- Feedback: Feedback ensures accurate message interpretation and maintains effective communication by allowing participants to exchange roles.
- Message: Messages can be conveyed through various forms, and successful encoding and decoding are essential for clear communication.
- Semantic Noise: Disruptions in message interpretation due to language barriers, cultural differences, or distractions are known as semantic noise.
- Comparing Models: The Schramm model contrasts with the transactional model by simplifying communication dynamics, whereas the transactional model highlights context complexities.
- Key Takeaways: The Schramm model captures the essence of communication’s interactivity, feedback, and encoding-decoding processes while offering a simple representation of its complexity.
Schramm Communication Model Strategies
|Product Presentation to Potential Clients||Sender (Encoder): Sales Representative, Message: Product Features and Benefits, Receiver (Decoder): Potential Clients||A sales representative encodes product information and presents it to potential clients who decode the message to evaluate the product’s value.||Informed decision-making and client engagement.||Increased sales and client conversions.|
|Corporate Training Workshop||Sender (Encoder): Trainer, Message: Training Content, Receiver (Decoder): Employees||A trainer encodes training content and delivers it to employees who decode the message to acquire new knowledge and skills.||Employee skill development and growth.||Improved job performance and productivity.|
|Public Relations Press Conference||Sender (Encoder): Company Spokesperson, Message: Corporate Announcements, Receiver (Decoder): Media and Public||A company spokesperson encodes corporate announcements and shares them with the media and the public, who decode the message to understand the news.||Media coverage and public perception.||Reputation management and stakeholder communication.|
|Internal Email Communication||Sender (Encoder): Employee, Message: Work Updates and Information, Receiver (Decoder): Colleagues||An employee encodes work updates and information in an internal email sent to colleagues who decode the message to stay informed and coordinate tasks.||Efficient internal communication and collaboration.||Streamlined workflow and task coordination.|
|Customer Feedback Survey||Sender (Encoder): Company, Message: Feedback Questions, Receiver (Decoder): Customers||A company encodes feedback questions in a survey sent to customers who decode the questions and provide responses to convey their opinions and experiences.||Customer feedback collection and analysis.||Customer-centric improvements and enhanced satisfaction.|
|Marketing Campaign through Social Media||Sender (Encoder): Marketing Team, Message: Campaign Content, Receiver (Decoder): Target Audience||The marketing team encodes campaign content and shares it on social media platforms where the target audience decodes the message to engage with the campaign.||Enhanced brand engagement and reach.||Increased campaign effectiveness and brand visibility.|
|Investor Relations Presentation||Sender (Encoder): CFO, Message: Financial Results and Strategy, Receiver (Decoder): Investors||The CFO encodes financial results and strategic information in an investor presentation, which investors decode to make investment decisions.||Informed investment decisions and trust.||Investor confidence and potential stock value increase.|
|Supplier Negotiation Meeting||Sender (Encoder): Procurement Team, Message: Terms and Conditions, Receiver (Decoder): Suppliers||The procurement team encodes negotiation terms and conditions in a meeting with suppliers who decode the message to negotiate and reach agreements.||Efficient supply chain management and cost control.||Reliable supplier relationships and cost savings.|
|Product Packaging Design||Sender (Encoder): Design Team, Message: Visual and Informational Elements, Receiver (Decoder): Consumers||A design team encodes visual and informational elements into product packaging, which consumers decode to identify and evaluate the product.||Product recognition and appeal.||Attraction of consumers and brand loyalty.|
|Employee Performance Appraisal||Sender (Encoder): Supervisor, Message: Performance Feedback, Receiver (Decoder): Employee||A supervisor encodes performance feedback during an appraisal, which the employee decodes to understand strengths and areas for improvement.||Employee motivation and skill development.||Improved job performance and career growth.|
|Company Policy and Procedure Documentation||Sender (Encoder): HR Department, Message: Policy and Procedure Documents, Receiver (Decoder): Employees||The HR department encodes policy and procedure documents, which employees decode to understand and follow organizational guidelines.||Organizational compliance and consistency.||Employee adherence to company policies and standards.|
|Marketing Collateral for Trade Show||Sender (Encoder): Marketing Team, Message: Marketing Collateral, Receiver (Decoder): Event Attendees||The marketing team encodes marketing collateral (e.g., brochures, banners) for a trade show, which event attendees decode to learn about the company and its offerings.||Effective trade show representation and engagement.||Increased brand visibility and potential leads.|
|Crisis Communication to Employees and Stakeholders||Sender (Encoder): Crisis Management Team, Message: Crisis Response Plans, Receiver (Decoder): Employees and Stakeholders||The crisis management team encodes crisis response plans and communicates them to employees and stakeholders, who decode the message to navigate the crisis.||Crisis containment and reputation management.||Restored trust and stakeholder confidence.|
|Legal Contracts and Agreements||Sender (Encoder): Legal Team, Message: Contract Terms and Agreements, Receiver (Decoder): Parties Involved||The legal team encodes contract terms and agreements, which parties involved decode to understand and formalize legal obligations.||Legal clarity and contract enforceability.||Compliance with legal obligations and dispute prevention.|
|Brand Identity and Logo Design||Sender (Encoder): Branding Team, Message: Brand Identity Elements, Receiver (Decoder): Consumers||A branding team encodes brand identity elements (e.g., logo, color scheme) in design materials, which consumers decode to recognize and connect with the brand.||Strong brand recognition and loyalty.||Positive brand perception and customer retention.|
Read Next: What Is A Linear Model Of Communication?
Connected Communication Models
Main Free Guides: