What is Noise ?

“The goal of all communication is understanding. Anything that interferes with this understanding is called noise.” Rosie Bunnow, University of Wisconsin

Physical noise (also called external noise) involves any stimuli outside of the receiver that makes the message difi cult to hear. For example, it would be difficult to hear a message from your professor if some-one were mowing the lawn outside the classroom. Physical noise can also take the form of something a person is wearing, such as “loud jewelry” or sunglasses, which may cause a receiver to focus on the object rather than the message.
Physiological noise refers to biological inl uences on message recep-tion. Examples of this type of noise are articulation problems, hearing or visual impairments, and the physical well-being of a speaker (that is, whether he or she is able to deliver a message).

Psychological noise (or internal noise) refers to a communicator’s biases, prejudices, and feelings toward a person or a message. For example, you may have heard another person use language that is offensive and derogatory while speaking about a certain cultural group. If you were bothered by this language, you were experiencing psychological noise.
Semantic noise occurs when senders and receivers apply different meanings to the same message. Semantic noise may take the form of jargon, technical language, and other words and phrases that are familiar to the sender but that are not understood by the receiver. For example, consider Jim, a 40-year-old Franco American living in Maine. Jim’s primary language is French, so he frequently uses the English language in ways that are a bit nonsensical. For instance, when asking to look at something, he says “hand me, see me” instead of “may I see that?” Or, at times, he will say “it will go that” in lieu of the phrase “this is the story.” These sorts of phrases and their use could be considered conversational semantic noise.


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