What is Communication? Meaning, Types, Models, Psychology

Communication is a vital part of human interaction and has been studied and researched by scholars for centuries. From ancient Greece to modern times, the study of communication has encompassed a wide range of disciplines, including psychology, anthropology, and political science.

Technological advances, such as the telegraph and telephone, have helped spur the growth of communication as a field of study.

The rise of mass communication through popular newspapers, television, and the internet has only further emphasized the importance of understanding how humans communicate with one another.

Many individuals throughout history have made significant contributions to our understanding of language and communication.

For example, the ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle wrote extensively about the nature of language and its relationship to thought.

The linguist Noam Chomsky revolutionized language study with his theories on the innate structure of human language.

Let’s understand communication in detail in this article.

What To Know About Communication?

Communication is the exchange of thoughts, ideas, and information between individuals or groups. It is a fundamental part of human interaction and plays a crucial role in building and maintaining personal and professional relationships.

Effective communication involves the sender conveying a message to the receiver clearly and understandably and the receiver providing feedback to confirm that the message has been understood.

Communication can take place in various forms, including verbal (spoken), nonverbal (body language and gestures), and written.

Models Of Communication

Several models of communication have been proposed by researchers and scholars.

These models help to understand and explain the communication process and how it works. Some of the most commonly studied communication models include:

Linear Models Of Communication

Linear communication models focus on one-way communication, in which a sender sends a message to a receiver. These models help us understand how a message is transmitted and how it can be transmitted more effectively.

Some of the most well-known linear models of communication include:

  • Aristotle’s model of communication: Aristotle’s model, also known as the rhetorical triangle, is one of the earliest communication models. It proposes that communication involves three components: the speaker (ethos), the message (logos), and the audience (pathos). The speaker’s credibility (ethos) and the appeal of the message (pathos) are essential factors in convincing the audience to accept the message (logos).

  • Laswell’s model: Laswell’s model is a simple linear model of communication that proposes that the sender encodes a message, which is then transmitted through a channel to the receiver. The model consists of five elements: who (sender), says what (message), in what channel (channel), to whom (receiver), and with what effect (effect).

  • Shannon-Weaver model: The Shannon-Weaver model, also known as the information theory model, is a mathematical model of communication developed by Claude Shannon and Warren Weaver in the 1940s. It proposes that communication involves a sender encoding a message, which is then transmitted through a channel to the receiver. Noise or interference can disrupt the transmission of the message, and it is decoded by the receiver to extract the information.

  • Berlo’s S-M-C-R model: Berlo’s model is a linear model of communication that proposes that the sender encodes a message, which is transmitted through a channel to the receiver. The model consists of four components: the sender (S), the message (M), the channel (C), and the receiver (R). The model also considers the factors that can influence the effectiveness of the communication, including the sender’s competence and the receiver’s perception and understanding of the message.

Interactive Models Of Communication

Interactive communication models recognize communication as a two-way process, with both the sender and receiver playing a role in transmitting and receiving messages.

These models consider the various factors that can affect the communication process, such as the context, the relationship between the parties, and the cultural background of the participants.

Some of the most well-known interactive models of communication include:

  • Osgood-Schramm model: The Osgood-Schramm model is an interactive model of communication that proposes that communication involves a sender encoding a message, which is transmitted through a channel to the receiver. The model also considers the feedback from the receiver, which can affect the sender’s message and the communication process.

  • Westley and Maclean model: The Westley and Maclean model is an interactive model of communication that focuses on the media’s role in communication. The model proposes that the media play a central role in shaping communication and influencing how messages are transmitted and received.

Transactional Models Of Communication

Transactional models of communication recognize that communication is a two-way process in which the sender and receiver are both actively involved in transmitting and interpreting the message.

These models consider the communication process’s complexity and how it can evolve over time. Some of the most well-known transactional models of communication include:

  • Berglund’s transactional model: Barnlund’s transactional model is an interactive model of communication that proposes that communication involves a sender encoding a message, which is transmitted through a channel to the receiver. The model also considers the feedback from the receiver, which can affect the sender’s message and the communication process.

  • Dance’s helical model: Dance’s helical model is a transactional model of communication that proposes that communication involves a continuous process of encoding, transmitting, and decoding messages. The model suggests that the communication process is dynamic and can change over time as the parties adapt and respond to each other.

Types Of Communication

Various types of communication can be classified based on the number of people involved, the nature of the message, and the medium or channel through which the message is transmitted. Some of the main types of communication include:

Verbal Communication

It is the exchange of information using spoken language. It can take place face-to-face, over the phone, or through other forms of audio transmissions, such as radio or television.

Nonverbal Communication

It is the transmission of information through body language, gestures, and other nonverbal cues. It includes facial expressions, eye contact, posture, and tone of voice and can often convey more information than verbal communication.

Nonverbal communication can play a significant role in how a message is interpreted and can be used to reinforce or contradict verbal communication. It can be divided into several categories: symbols, signs, signals, icons, gestures, and proxemics.

  • Symbols: The objects or actions that express or represent something unique are symbols. For example, a wedding ring is a symbol of marriage, and the Christian cross is a symbol of religion.

  • Signs: Signs are symbols with an agreed-upon meaning within a particular culture or group. For example, a red octagon is a sign that means “stop” in many countries.

  • Signals: Signals are nonverbal cues that convey specific meanings. For example, a raised hand may signal that someone wants to speak in a meeting, and a nod of the head may signal agreement.

  • Icons: Icons are visual symbols representing something else, often through similarity or convention. For example, a picture of a house may represent a real estate company, and a picture of a heart may express love or affection.

  • Gestures: Gestures are nonverbal actions or movements of the body or face that convey meaning. For example, waving hello or goodbye, pointing, or giving the thumbs-up sign are all common gestures.

  • Proxemics: Proxemics is how people use space to communicate. It includes the distance people maintain between each other and the way they orient themselves with others. For example, standing close to someone may convey intimacy or aggression, while standing farther away may convey a more formal or distant relationship.

Written Communication

Written communication is exchanging information using written language, such as letters, emails, and text messages. It allows for the permanent record of the communication and can be used when the parties are not in the exact location or when a written record is required.

Mass Communication

Mass communication is transmitting information to a large number of audiences through various mediums such as television, radio, newspapers, and the internet.

It is a one-way form of communication in which the sender broadcasts a message to a large number of receivers.

Group Communication

Group communication refers to communication that takes place between three or more people. It can involve face-to-face interactions or communication through electronic means such as videoconferencing or online forums.

Group communication can be challenging due to the need to coordinate the efforts and perspectives of multiple individuals.

Interpersonal Communication

Interpersonal communication refers to communication between two people. It can be face-to-face or through electronic means such as phone or video calls.

Interpersonal communication is vital for building and maintaining relationships and involves the exchange of verbal and nonverbal cues.


Listening is an essential part of communication and involves paying attention to and understanding the speaker’s words and messages.

Effective listening involves hearing the words and understanding the meaning behind them and the context in which they are being spoken. There are several barriers to effective listening, including distractions, preconceptions, and a lack of interest in the topic.

To be a good listener, it is essential to remove distractions, open your mind to new ideas, and actively engage with the speaker by providing verbal and nonverbal cues that you are listening to.

Good listening skills are essential in personal and professional settings, as they allow us to understand better and communicate with others.

They can help to build trust and improve relationships and can also be helpful in problem-solving and conflict resolution.

Visual Communication

It is the transmission of information using visual aids such as images, charts, and diagrams. It can be an effective way to convey complex ideas and information, as it allows the receiver to process the information using multiple senses.

This communication can take many forms, including graphic design, video, and multimedia presentations. It is crucial to consider the audience and the purpose of the visual communication when designing it, as well as the appropriate medium for conveying the message.

Visual communication can be particularly effective in cases where the information is technical or abstract, as it allows the receiver to see and understand the concepts more quickly. It can also be helpful in engaging the audience and making the information more memorable.

Formal vs. Informal Communication

Now let’s understand the difference between formal vs. informal communication.
Informal communication takes place outside formal channels or structures and is often spontaneous and unplanned.

It can take many forms, including casual conversations, gossip, and body language. Informal communication can be important for people to connect and build relationships, but it can also be prone to misunderstandings and misinformation.

On the other hand, formal communication follows established channels and procedures within an organization or group. It is typically planned and structured and is used for official or business-related purposes.

Formal communication can take many forms, including emails, memos, reports, and meetings, and is vital for maintaining order and clarity within an organization. However, it can also be slow and may not allow for the same level of personal interaction as informal communication.

What Is the Psychology Of Communication?

Psychologists have long been interested in understanding how communication works and how it can influence individuals and groups. One approach, behaviorism, sees communication as a stimulus-response process in which a message from a sender elicits a response from a receiver. Freudian analysts, on the other hand, view communication as reflecting early family dynamics and the workings of the ego.

In the mid-1900s, psychologists began focusing on the persuasive power of different messages.

They looked at whether there is a general personality trait called “persuasibility” that determines how easily an individual can be convinced by a message and found that people do vary in their level of persuadability and that certain personality traits may be related to this quality.

Other psychologists have studied the recipients of the communication, developing concepts such as “selective perception,” “selective attention,” and “selective retention” to understand not only how communication can change attitudes but also why some people resist change.

These researchers have investigated the spread of rumors, the impact of fear-mongering messages, the influence of highly respected sources, and the pressure of group consensus on individual perceptions of communication.

One theory that has emerged from this work is “cognitive dissonance,” which suggests that people have a limited tolerance for inconsistency in their environment and will try to reduce the resulting psychological tension by modifying their perceptions of reality.

For example, someone who views themselves as a skilled bowler but has a poor performance may try to explain away their low score by blaming the bowling ball or the alley rather than questioning their own ability.

These theories of audience psychology offer essential insights into how communication affects people, but none of them provides a complete explanation for all the effects of communication.

There is still much for psychologists to learn about the many facets of communication and how they impact human behavior and perception.

Several key concepts in the psychology of communication are essential when studying and practicing effective communication. These include:

  • Perception: It is the process by which people interpret and make sense of the information they receive through their senses. It plays a crucial role in communication, affecting how a message is interpreted and perceived as credible or trustworthy.

  • Language: It is a system of symbols and rules used to convey meaning and facilitate communication. It is an essential tool for expressing thoughts and ideas and can be influenced by cultural and individual differences.

  • Nonverbal communication: It is the transmission of information through body language, gestures, and other nonverbal cues. It can play a significant role in how a message is interpreted and can be used to reinforce or contradict verbal communication.

  • Empathy: Empathy is an essential aspect of communication, as it allows people to connect and relate to each other on a deeper level.

  • Persuasion: Persuasion is influencing someone’s thoughts, beliefs, or actions through communication. It involves convincing the audience to accept a message or take a particular action.

The psychology of communication is a complex and multifaceted field that involves studying many different psychological processes and factors affecting communication.

What Are the Eight Essentials Of Communication?

Effective communication is crucial in personal and professional relationships, as it allows us to convey information, express our thoughts and feelings, and achieve our goals.

It is essential to understand the eight components that make up the communication process to communicate effectively.

  • Source: The source is the person or entity transmitting the message. The source must be competent and knowledgeable about the topic and must have the ability to encode the message clearly and concisely. The source should also consider the needs and perspectives of the audience when crafting the message.

  • Message: The message is the content or information being transmitted. It can be a verbal message, such as a spoken or written message, or a nonverbal message, such as body language or facial expressions. The message should be clear, concise, and relevant to the audience’s needs and interests. It should also be appropriate for the parties’ context and relationship.

  • Channel: It is the medium through which the message is transmitted, such as face-to-face conversation, phone, email, or social media. The choice of the channel can affect the clarity and effectiveness of the message, as different channels have different strengths and limitations. For example, face-to-face communication allows for nonverbal cues and immediate feedback, while written communication may be more efficient for conveying complex information.

  • Receiver: The receiver is the person or entity receiving the message. The receiver must be attentive and actively engaged in the communication process and decode the message and provide feedback to the source. The receiver should also consider the perspective and needs of the source when interpreting the message.

  • Feedback: Feedback is a response from the receiver’s end. It can be verbal or nonverbal and help the source understand how the message was received and whether it was understood. Feedback is an integral part of the communication process, as it allows for the clarification and adjustment of the message if necessary. It can help build trust and rapport between the parties.

  • Environment: The environment is the physical and social context in which communication occurs. It can influence the clarity and effectiveness of the message, as well as the behavior and reactions of the source and receiver. The environment should be conducive to communication, with minimal distractions and disruptions. Factors such as noise, lighting, and seating arrangement can all impact the quality of communication.

  • Context: Context refers to the circumstances and background information that can affect the interpretation of the message. It can include the relationship between the source and receiver, the cultural background of the parties, and the purpose of the communication.

  • Interference: Interference is any external or internal factor that can disrupt the transmission or interpretation of the message. It can include noise, distractions, competing messages, or personal biases. Interference can distort or obstruct the message, making it more challenging for the receiver to understand and interpret it accurately. Some common forms of interference include physical distractions, such as noise or interruptions, and psychological distractions, such as preconceived notions or emotions.

Effective communication requires the consideration of all eight of these components to ensure that the message is transmitted and received clearly and accurately.

By understanding these components and how they interact with each other, we can improve our communication skills and better achieve our goals in personal and professional contexts.


Effective communication is important for building and maintaining relationships, conveying information, and achieving goals.

It involves the transmission and receipt of a message through a chosen channel. It requires the consideration of several vital components, including the source, message, channel, receiver, feedback, environment, context, and interference.

By understanding and considering these components, we can improve the clarity and effectiveness of our communication and better achieve our goals.

The benefits of effective communication are numerous. It allows us to express our thoughts and feelings, convey important information, and build strong relationships.
It can also help to resolve conflicts and misunderstandings and facilitate teamwork and collaboration.

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