Communication Models – Types, Advantages and Disadvantages

The main flaw in the linear model is that it depicts communication as a one-way process where speakers only speak and never listen. It also implies that listeners listen and never speak or send messages. Schramm came out with a more interactive model that saw the receiver or listener providing feedback to the sender or speaker. The speaker or sender of the message also listens to the feedback given by the receiver or listener. Both the speaker and the listener take turns to speak and listen to each other. Feedback is given either verbally or non-verbally, or in both ways. This model also indicates that the speaker and listener communicate better if they have common fields of experience, or fields which overlap. This model is described in Schramm’s book “The Process and Effects of Communication”.


Schramm's Interactive Model of Communication
Schramm’s Interactive Model of Communication



Concepts of Schramm’s Communication Model
Schramm’s model of communication includes the source which is also known as the encoder, the message or the signal, and the destination which is also recognized as the decoder. The model addresses the sociological aspects involved in communication. Communication or commonness can take place if the fields of the source and destination overlap as shown in the figure below as the field of experience.
It is a Circular Model, so that communication is something circular in nature
Encoder – Who does encoding or Sends the message (message originates)
Decoder – Who receives the message
Interpreter – Person trying to understand (analyses, perceive) or interpret

• Circular communication gives opportunity to both parties to give their opinion.
• As it is dynamic and ever changing model, it is helpful in general practice.
• Sender and receiver interchanges and both are equally active.
• Semantic noise included as a concept helps in understanding problems that can occur during interpretation of message.
• Feedback makes it easier to know if the message is interpreted by the receiver as intended or not.
• Concept of interpretation makes the communication effective.
• Field of experience (psychological effect) helps to understand the communication process in many other ways than the traditional ones..
• Concept of context makes the environmental factor be included in interpretation of message and brings change in the message value.

• This model can not deal with multiple levels of communication and complex communication processes.
• There can only be two sources communicating, many sources complicates the process and the model can not be implemented.
• Message sent and received might be interpreted differently than intended.


The main drawback in the interactive model is that it does not indicate that communicators can both send and receive messages simultaneously. This model also fails to show that communication is a dynamic process which changes over time.The transactional model shows that the elements in communication are interdependent. In transactional model, senders and receivers both are known as communicators and both play equally important role in communication
There are three implications in the transactional model:
i. Transactional” means that communication is an ongoing and continuously changing process. You are changing, the people with whom you are communicating are changing, and your environment is also continually changing as well.
ii. In any transactional process, each element exists in relation to all the other elements. There is this interdependence where there can be no source without a receiver and no message without a source.
iii. Each person in the communication process reacts depending on factors such as their background, prior experiences, attitudes, cultural beliefs and self-esteem.

Transactional model relates communication with social reality, cultural up-bringing and relational context (relationships). Non-verbal feedback like gestures, body language, is also considered as feedback in this model. Different models that follow transactional model of communication are:
• Barnlund’s Transactional Model
• Helical Model
• Becker’s Mosaic Model

  1. Barnlund’s Transactional Model

Dean Barnlund proposed a transactional model of communication in 1970 for basic interpersonal communication which articulates that sending and receiving of messages happens simultaneously between people which is popularly known as Barlund’s Transactional Model of Communication. Barnlund’s Transactional Model presents a multi-layered feedback system for all parties involved, and recognizes that anyone can be a sender and receiver at the same time. The layers of feedback consist of both verbal and non-verbal cues sent concurrently with the message itself. This further suggests that the feedback could take equal standing as the message itself. The model has been further adapted and reformed by other theorists as General Transactional Model.
Components of Barlund’s model
Cues refers to the signs for doing something. As per Barnlund there are: public cues, private cues and behavioral cues.

• Public cues (Cpu) are physical, environmental or artificial and natural or man-made.
• Private cues (Cpr) are also known as private objects of orientation which include senses of a person. Both these cues can be verbal as well as non-verbal. Another set of cues are behavioral cues.
• Behavioral cues can be verbal (Cbehv) as well as non-verbal (Cbehnv).


• The model shows shared field experience of the sender and receiver.
• Transactional model talks about simultaneous message sending, noise and feedback.
• Barnlund’s model is taken by critics as the most systematic model of communication.


• Barnlund’s model is very complex.
• Both the sender and receiver must understand the codes sent by the other. So they must each possess a similar “code book”. (The concept of code book is not mentioned in the model but understood.)

Communication Models – Types, Advantages and Disadvantages

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