Interactive Model of Communication

Interactive Model of Communication: 10 Things to Know – A Comprehensive Overview


Interactive Model of Communication: In the digital age, our interactions have become more complex and multifaceted. At the heart of these interactions lies the interactive model of communication, a transactional system that encapsulates the complexities of human interaction. It enables us to explore the dynamics between the sender, receiver, and the message they exchange.

Who developed the interactive model of communication?

The Interactive Model of Communication was first proposed by Wilbur Schramm in 1954. Schramm’s model was a significant improvement on the previous linear models, as it incorporated the concept of feedback, which allows for two-way communication. His model also emphasized that both the sender and receiver interpret the message based on their background, making it an iterative, complex process.

Schramm’s model is often viewed as the foundation for later, more sophisticated interactive and transactional communication models. These later models, including ones proposed by David Berlo and Dean Barnlund, have expanded and refined Schramm’s initial concepts to account for more complexity in the communication process.

The Elements of Interactive Model of Communication

To understand the interactive model of communication, we must first familiarize ourselves with its integral parts. They include the sender (the communicator or the encoder), the receiver (the decoder), the message (content, whether verbal or nonverbal), the channels (visual, auditory, or sensory), and the noise (environmental or semantic) that can interfere with the process.

The Elements of Interactive Model of Communication
Elements of Interactive Model of Communication

Understanding the Sender and Receiver Roles

At the crux of communication lies the sender and the receiver. The sender, or the encoder, initiates the interaction by converting thoughts into a communicative form – a process known as encoding. Conversely, the receiver or the decoder plays a pivotal role by interpreting the sender’s message, turning the communication back into thoughts, in a process known as decoding.

The Communication Process

The communication process thrives on encoding and decoding. Encoding involves turning thoughts into communication, while decoding turns communication into thoughts. This transactional process creates a two-way interaction, facilitating efficient communication between the sender and the receiver.

The Role of Message in Communication

The message, encompassing both content and form, whether verbal or nonverbal, is the lifeblood of communication. A well-crafted message resonates with the receiver, fostering an effective and meaningful interaction. It is the encoded thoughts of the sender that the receiver decodes to comprehend.

Channels of Communication

Channels of communication, including visual, auditory, and sensory, play a critical role in the interactive model of communication. They serve as mediums that carry the encoded message from the sender to the receiver, making the transaction of communication possible.

Noise in Communication

Noise, whether environmental or semantic, can disrupt the communication process. It introduces misunderstandings or misconceptions, which can distort the intended message, making it vital to minimize noise for effective communication.


The Heart of Interaction Feedback is the lifeblood of the interactive model of communication. It provides the sender with a response, a reaction to their message. This iterative process not only enables the sender to gauge the efficacy of their communication but also serves to enrich the interaction.

The Impact of Context in Communication

The context of communication, whether physical, psychological, or relational, significantly impacts the effectiveness of the interactive model. It influences the sender’s encoding, the receiver’s decoding, and ultimately, the overall interaction and transaction of the message.

The Interactive Model in Action In everyday life, we apply the interactive model of communication in various ways. For example, in a team meeting, the leader (sender) communicates their ideas (message) through a presentation (channel), team members (receivers) interpret and respond (feedback), all while managing potential distractions (noise) in the meeting environment (context).

Historical Context of the Interactive Model of Communication

The evolution of communication models has been marked by gradual shifts from linear to more interactive frameworks. The earliest models of communication were linear, starting with the classic Shannon-Weaver Model developed in 1948. This model presented communication as a linear process involving a sender transmitting a message to a receiver through a channel.

However, the linear models were deemed overly simplistic for the complexity of human communication. They lacked feedback and didn’t account for the bidirectional nature of communication. They also failed to recognize the influence of external factors, such as noise and context, which could impact the quality and understanding of the message.

Recognizing these limitations, Schramm introduced one of the first interactive models of communication in 1954. Schramm’s model introduced the concept of feedback and emphasized that both the sender and receiver could encode, decode, and provide feedback, making communication a more interactive process.

Following Schramm, David Berlo developed the SMCR Model in 1960, adding more depth to understanding the skills and attitudes of the sender and receiver. The model was called SMCR after its four components: Source, Message, Channel, and Receiver.

Further evolution occurred in the 1970s with the introduction of transactional models, which proposed that individuals could be simultaneous senders and receivers, integrating feedback within the communication process rather than as a subsequent step. This model recognized the influence of factors like context, environment, and individual experiences, which further emphasized the complexity and dynamism of human communication.

Today’s interactive models, while deriving from these earlier iterations, recognize that communication is a dynamic, reciprocal process, taking into account all the elements of the communication process – sender, receiver, message, channels, noise, feedback, and context. The focus has shifted from communication being a one-way process to recognizing it as a multifaceted interaction, where each participant plays an active role.

What are 5 examples of interactive model of communication?

What are 5 examples of interactive model of communication
What are 5 examples of interactive model of communication?

1. Social Media Interaction: Social media is a prime example of the interactive model of communication. When a person posts a status update or a picture (sender), they use the social media platform (channel) to convey their thoughts or emotions (message) to their friends or followers (receivers). Their friends or followers then interpret the post (decoding), and react by liking, commenting, or sharing (feedback), starting a two-way interactive communication process.

2. Classroom Learning: A teacher (sender) uses verbal and visual channels to impart knowledge (message) to students (receivers). Students decode the information and ask questions or participate in discussions (feedback), thus creating a two-way interactive communication process. Both parties also consider the learning environment and context (like noise in the classroom or the subject matter) during the process.

3. Business Meetings: In business meetings, a team leader (sender) presents an idea or project update (message) using PowerPoint slides (visual channel) to team members (receivers). Team members interpret the information and respond with questions, suggestions, or discussions (feedback), making it a two-way interactive communication process. Noise in this context could be physical (e.g., a noisy air conditioner) or semantic (e.g., jargon or acronyms that some team members do not understand).

4. Customer Service: When a customer contacts a support representative with a complaint or query (message), the representative (receiver) listens and responds (feedback) to the customer’s issue. The customer, in turn, reacts to the representative’s response, creating a two-way interaction. The interaction might take place over various channels, like phone, email, or chat, and could be affected by noise like poor network connection or miscommunication.

5. Therapy Sessions: A client communicates their feelings, experiences, and concerns (message) to a therapist (receiver) during a therapy session. The therapist interprets the client’s message, provides feedback, and suggests coping strategies. The client then responds to the therapist’s feedback, creating an interactive communication loop. The process is influenced by the therapy room’s environment (context), which is designed to be quiet and private to minimize noise and encourage open communication.

Advantages of Interactive Model of Communication

Advantages of Interactive Model of Communication
Advantages of Interactive Model of Communication

Two-way communication: The model supports the idea of two-way communication, or feedback. This feature allows the sender and receiver to engage in a dynamic interaction, rather than a one-sided conversation.

Context consideration: The model takes into account the context in which communication takes place. This inclusion is crucial because the setting, situation, and timing can significantly affect the understanding and effectiveness of the communication process.

Noise recognition: Unlike the linear model, the interactive model acknowledges the presence of noise or barriers that can disrupt the communication process. These barriers could be environmental, semantic, or related to the medium of communication itself.

Allows for adjustment and adaptation: Since this model recognizes feedback, it allows for immediate adjustment and adaptation of the message based on the receiver’s response. This aspect enhances the effectiveness of communication by making it more responsive and flexible.

Recognition of simultaneous roles: The model accepts that an individual can play the role of both sender and receiver simultaneously, reflecting the complexity of real-life communication scenarios.

Accounts for individual field of experience: The model acknowledges that each individual’s field of experience influences their interpretation of messages. This aspect enhances our understanding of how people’s backgrounds, attitudes, knowledge, and experiences can affect communication.

Disadvantage of Interactive Model of Communication

While the interactive model of communication offers a more complex and comprehensive understanding of human communication than linear models, it does come with certain limitations:

Disadvantage of Interactive Model of Communication
Disadvantage of Interactive Model of Communication

Complexity: The interactive model’s inherent complexity, while providing a more realistic view of communication, can also be a drawback. It may be more difficult to apply and understand for those who are new to studying communication.

Limited Perspective on Simultaneous Communication: While the interactive model acknowledges feedback, it still tends to view communication as a back-and-forth process where one party sends a message and then waits for feedback before proceeding. In many real-life situations, communication is transactional with simultaneous sending and receiving of messages. This aspect is better captured by the transactional model of communication.

Neglect of Power Dynamics: The interactive model doesn’t sufficiently address the power dynamics that can significantly affect communication. In many cases, the sender or receiver may have more power or influence, which can impact the way messages are encoded, decoded, and responded to.

Assumption of Rationality: The model assumes that communicators are rational and that they encode and decode messages effectively. However, this is not always the case, especially in emotionally charged conversations or when individuals lack the necessary communication skills.

Feedback is not Always Immediate: The model assumes immediate feedback, but in many communication scenarios, particularly in mass communication or digital communication, feedback can be delayed.

Overlooking Nonverbal Communication: While the model accounts for verbal feedback, it often overlooks nonverbal cues, which can be an integral part of communication.