Westley and MacLean’s Model of Communication


In 1957 Westley and MacLean’s model of communication is proposed by Bruce Westley (1915-1990) and Malcolm S. MacLean Jr (1913-2001). Being one of the creators of journalism studies, Westley served as a teacher at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, between 1946 and 1968. Malcolm was director of University of Journalism School (1967-74) and co founder of the University College at University of Minnesota.

This model can be seen two contexts, interpersonal and mass communication. And the point of difference between interpersonal and mass communication is the feedback. In interpersonal, the feedback is direct and fast. In the mass, the feedback is indirect and slow.


Westely and Maclean realized that communication does not begin when one person starts to talk, but rather when a person responds selectively to his/her physical surroundings. This model considers a strong relation between responds from surroundings and the process of communication. Communication begins only when a person receives message from surroundings. Each receiver responds to the message they received based on their object of orientation.

X1, X2, X3 and X4….—are news articles or information, Feedback (f), Clients (A), Reader or Audience (B) and Gate Keeper (c)


A Daily News Papers will receive many Press releases from Many Public Relations Agencies on behalf of their clients. In this case, News paper will publish the selected Press release due to the space constraints. Then, Readers can directly respond to the client or they can respond to the News daily which published in the Newspaper. If Readers responded to daily News paper, it will communicate the feedback to concern PR Agency.

X1, X2 and X3—are Press Release, Feedback (f), Clients (A), Reader (B) and Daily News Paper (Gate Keeper) (c)

1.    Feedback Loop between Reader (B) and News Paper (C) – fBC
2.    Feedback Loop between News Paper(C ) and Client (A)- fCA
3.    Feedback loop between Reader (B) and Client (A)- fBA.

Merits and Demerits:

  • This model accounts for Feedback.
  • It can account for different modes of communication, i.e., for both interpersonal communication and Mass communication.
  • It is a predictive model of communication and very descriptive also.
  • It also account for non binary interactions, this means that it will remain good even for communications involving more than two sources.
  • Westley and Maclean communication model is Two Dimensional.
  • It cannot account for multi dimensions; this means this model will not be applicable for typical communication events that involve broader context and wide range of communication messages.


The Newcomb’s Model of Communication

THEODORE M.NEWCOMB (July 24, 1903)  in Rock Creek, at the northeastern tip of Ohio and he was a great pioneer in the field of social psychology. Merely 50 years he worked for the improvement of human motivation, perception and learning to shape the deep understanding of social process. In 1929, he started his professional career in the department of psychology at University of Michigan. In 1931, he moved to Cleveland College, University of Western Reserve from University of Michigan. In 1934, he got a great offer from New Bennington College in Vermont which caused remarkable changes in his rest of his professional career. His works “Personality and Social Change” (1943), “Social Psychology” (1950). He published a new social approach in field of communication which is called “ABX” system (later it became Newcomb’s model) and it’s published in the name of “An Approach to the Study of Communicative Acts (1953)”. He published another great work in the field of social psychology called “The Acquaintance Process” (1961).

The New Comb’s model of communication was introduced by Theodore M Newcomb of the University of Michigan in 1953. He gives different approach to the communication process. The main purpose of this theory is to introduce the role of communication in a social relationship (society) and to maintain social equilibrium within the social system. He does not include the message as a separate entity in his diagram, implying it only by use of directional arrows. He concentrates on the social purpose of communication, showing all communication as a means of sustaining relationships between people. Sometimes it’s called as an “ABX” model of communication.

The Newcomb’s model works in a triangular format or A-B-X system

A – Sender

B – Receiver

X – Matter of Concern

The relationship between A and B is like student and teacher, government and public or newspaper and readers. Sender and Receiver may work in a same flow but the same time some factor like “X” may affect their flow of relationship.  “X” it may be third persons, issue, topic or policy.

For Example:

Teachers introduce a new policy to increase the college timing from 6 hours to 8 hours.

A – Teachers     B – Students    X – Policy or issue
If both students and teachers are satisfied with this policy then the communication maintains its equilibrium status between them. Otherwise the flow of communication between “A” and “B” becomes trouble in the social system. If “A” or “B” is not ready to accept the policy then it will directly affect the social system and can’t maintain the equilibrium status. So Teachers”A” can convince students “B” as much as possible. Otherwise they have to make some adjustments in the Policy “X” and convince them towards the policy.


Difference between interpersonal and intrapersonal communication

Differences between Internal and External Communication

Internal communication is the process of exchanging information among the people of different level or internal participants within the organization.

On the other hand, external communication is an informal exchange of information and messages between an organization and other organizations, groups or individuals outside its formal structure. The important differences between internal and external communication are as follows:

Differences between internal and external communication

Difference between interpersonal and intrapersonal communication: Intrapersonal communication is the process of sensing, thinking, perception, evaluating and interpreting events within the self mind of an individual. For intrapersonal communication, different persons may respond differently to a single message because of differences in their perception and thinking.

On the other hand, interpersonal communication occurs when two individuals are involved or exchanging information communication occurs when two individuals are involved or exchanging information, ideas, opinions, feelings relating to the personal, social, organizational, national and international matter who are located in the same place. The important differences between interpersonal and intrapersonal communication are as follows:

Difference between interpersonal and intrapersonal communication

Shannon and Weaver Model

The Shannon and Weaver model

Shannon and Weaver model Figure 1
Shannon and Weaver model.

Back in 1949 Claude Shannon, an electrical engineer with Bell Telephone, and Warren Weaver, of the Rockefeller Foundation, (Figure 1) published their book, The Mathematical Theory of Communication 3.

Shannon and Weaver attempted to do two things:

  • Reduce the communication process to a set of mathematical formulas
  • Discuss problems that could be handled with the model.

Shannon and Weaver were not particularly interested in the sociological or psychological aspects of communication. Instead, they wanted to devise a communications system with as close to 100 percent efficiency as possible.

You’ll note that the Shannon and Weaver diagram has essentially the same parts as the one formulated by Aristotle. It’s true the parts have different names, and a fourth component — in this case the transmitter — is included.

However, this model has an interesting additional element. Shannon and Weaver were concerned with noise in the communications process. Noise, Weaver said, “may be distortions of sound (in telephony, for example) or static (in radio), or distortions in shape or shading of picture (television), or errors in transmission (telegraph or facsimile), etc.”

The “noise” concept introduced by Shannon and Weaver can be used to illustrate “semantic noise” that interferes with communication. Semantic noise is the problem connected with differences in meaning that people assign to words, to voice inflections in speech, to gestures and expressions and to other similar “noise” in writing.

Semantic noise is a more serious problem or barrier to developing effective communications than most realize. It is hard to detect that semantic noise has interfered with communication. Too often the person sending a message chooses to use words and phrases that have a certain meaning to him or her. However, they may have an altogether different meaning to individuals receiving the message. In the interest of good communication, we need to work to hold semantic noise to the lowest level possible.

We should be aware that there is a semantic noise in face-to-face verbal communication just as there is static noise, for example, in radio communication.

There are other kinds of noises involved in communication as well. Keep the noise concept in mind.

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.

Lasswell’s Model Of Communcation

Harold D. Lasswell (1902-1978) is known for his studies in the field of Politics. He is considered a pioneer in the application of Psychology principles to Politics, as well as in constructing a system of Politics based on theories of Natural Sciences.

Harold Dwight Lasswell was born in Donnellson, Illinois, on February 13, 1902. His father was a Presbyterian clergyman and his mother was a schoolteacher.

Due to his successes in school, Lasswell obtained a grant for studying sociology at the University of Chicago, where he graduated in 1922. In 1926, with only 24 years old, he received the title of doctor from the same institution. His dissertation on “Propaganda Technique in the World War” (1927) is considered a leading study on Communication Theories. During this period of his life, Lasswell was influenced by the pragmatism taught by John Dewey and George Herbert Mead, among others.

But he also studied at the universities of London, Geneva, Paris and Berlin – where he studied Sigmund Freud, whose theories were determinant for Lasswell’s psychological approach to Political Science.

The University of Chicago made Lasswell an assistant professor in 1927 and an associate one in 1932. He stayed there until 1938, when he transferred to the Washington School of Psychiatry. But the Second World War started and Lasswell became the director of War Communications Research at the Library of Congress. He also worked as a professor at the New School of Social Research in New York City and at Yale Law School.

Lasswell’s communication model.

Lasswell was especially concerned with mass communication and propaganda, so his model is orientated to the researches we need to develop in order to answer his questions:

  • Who – Control analysis
  • Says what – Content analysis
  • In which channel – Media analysis
  • To whom – Audience analysis
  • With what effect – Effect analysis

Who: the sender.

This component of communication has to be studied through the “Control Analysis”. This requires the researcher to investigate things such as which company owes certain TV channel or newspaper, the ideology of the different media it owes, etc.

What: the message.

Lasswell’s main preoccupation was the mass communication, so he was especially concerned with the messages present in the media. The “Content analysis” is usually related to representations of concrete persons and situations in the media, this is, with stereotypes. For example: how are women represented in television? If one common representation of women is the housewife that cleans the house and takes care of the children, we would have to compare the percentage of that kind of women in TV to the real or objective percentage by resorting to official statistics.

Channel: the media.

In simple terms, we can state that messages can be sent in channels corresponding to our five senses. Each sense, and therefore each channel, suits better in different cases. The “Media analysis” is aimed to study the choice of one medium among all the possibilities, which will depend on lots of factors such as the content of the message, the purpose of the message, the target public, etc.

Whom: the receiver.

The question of the audience is of vital importance in order to be successful in a concrete communicational situation. By the “Audience analysis” we will try to know every important thing about the target public of one message, from gender and age to social status and tastes.

Effect: the consequences.

Lasswell was especially concerned by the consequences of mass communication on the population, so one of his major contributions was the concept of “effect”. Through the “Effect analysis” we will try to know how certain message has affected its receivers.

Although Lasswell’s model was aimed to study mass communication, it is positively known for being suitable to different situations, including interpersonal communication.

Advantage of lasswell model:
  • It is Easy and Simple
  • It suits for almost all types of communication
  • The concept of effect
Disadvantage of lasswell model:
  • Feedback not mentioned
  • Noise not mentioned
  • Linear Model


The berlo’s model follows the smcr model this model is not specific to any particular communication.

S – Source

The source in other words also called the sender is the one from whom the thought originates. He is the one who transfers the information to the receiver after carefully putting his thoughts into words.

How does the source or the sender transfer his information to the recipient ?

It is done with the help of communication skills, Attitude, Knowledge, Social System and Culture.

  • Communication Skills

An individual must possess excellent communication skills to make his communication effective and create an impact among the listeners. The speaker must know where to take pauses, where to repeat the sentences, how to speak a particular sentence, how to pronounce a word and so on. The speaker must not go on and on. He should also make a point to cross check with the recipients and listen to their queries as well. An individual must take care of his accent while communicating. A bad accent leads to a boring conversation.

  • Attitude

It is rightly said that if one has the right attitude, the whole world is at his feet. There is actually no stopping for the person if he has the right attitude. A person might be a very good speaker but if he doesn’t have the right attitude, he would never emerge as a winner. The sender must have the right attitude to create a long lasting impression on the listeners. An individual must be an MBA from a reputed institute, but he would be lost in the crowd without the right attitude.

  • Knowledge

Here knowledge is not related to the educational qualification of the speaker or the number of degrees he has in his portfolio. Knowledge is actually the clarity of the information which the speaker wants to convey to the second party. One must be thorough in what he is speaking with complete in-depth knowledge of the subject. Remember questions can pop up anytime and you have to be ready with your answers. You need to be totally familiar with what you are speaking. Before delivering any speech, read as much you can and prepare the subject completely without ignoring even the smallest detail.

  • Social System

Imagine a politician delivering a speech where he proposes to construct a temple in a Muslim dominated area. What would be the reaction of the listeners ? They would obviously be not interested. Was there any problem in the communication skills of the leader or he didn’t have the right attitude ? The displeasure of the listeners was simply because the speaker ignored the social set up of the place where he was communicating. He forgot the sentiments, cultural beliefs, religious feelings of the second party. Had it been a Hindu dominated society, his speech would have been very impressive.

  • Culture

Culture refers to the cultural background of the community or the listeners where the speaker is communicating or delivering his speech.

M – Message

When an individual converts his thoughts into words, a message is created. The process is also called as Encoding.

Any message further comprises of the following elements:

  • Content

One cannot show his grey matter to others to let him know what he is thinking. A thought has to be put into words and content has to be prepared. Content is actually the matter or the script of the conversation. It is in simpler words, the backbone of any communication.

Ted to Jenny -“I am really exhausted today, let’s plan for the movie tomorrow evening”.

Whatever Ted has communicated with Jenny is actually the content of the message. It is very important for the speaker to carefully choose the words and take good care of the content of the speech. The content has to be sensible, accurate, crisp, related to the thought to hit the listeners bang on and create an immediate impact.

  • Element

It has been observed that speech alone cannot bring a difference in the communication. Keep on constantly speaking and the listeners will definitely lose interest after some time. The speech must be coupled with lots of hand movements, gestures, postures, facial expressions, body movements to capture the attention of the listeners and make the speech impressive. Hand movements, gestures, postures, facial expressions, body movements, gestures all come under the elements of the message.

  • Treatment

Treatment is actually the way one treats his message and is conveys to the listeners. One must understand the importance of the message and must know how to handle it. If a boss wants to fire any of his employees, he has to be authoritative and can’t express his message in a casual way. This is referred to as the treatment of the message. One must understand how to present his message so that the message is conveyed in the most accurate form.

  • Structure

A message cannot be expressed in one go. It has to be properly structured in order to convey the message in the most desired form.

  • Code

Enter a wrong code and the locks will never open. Enter a wrong password, you will not be able to open your email account. In the same way the code has to be correct in the communication. Your body movements, your language, your expressions, your gestures are actually the codes of the message and have to be accurate otherwise the message gets distorted and the recipient will never be able to decode the correct information.

C – Channel

Channel – Channel actually refers to the medium how the information flows from the sender to the receiver.

How does one know what the other person is speaking ? – Through Hearing.

How does one know whether the pasta he has ordered is made in white sauce or not ? – Through Tasting.

How does one know that there is a diversion ahead or it’s a no parking zone? – Through Seeing.

How will an individual come to know that the food is fresh or stale ? How do we find out the fragrance of a perfume ? – ThroughSmelling.

How will you find out whether the milk is hot or not ? – Through Touching.

All the five senses are the channels which help human beings to communicate with each other.

R – Receiver

When the message reaches the receiver, he tries to understand what the listener actually wants to convey and then responds accordingly. This is also called as decoding.

The receiver should be on the same platform as the speaker for smooth flow of information and better understanding of the message. He should possess good communication skills to understand what the speaker is trying to convey. He should have the right attitude to understand the message in a positive way. His knowledge should also be at par with the listener and must know about the subject. He should also be from the same social and cultural background just like the speaker.

There are several loopholes in the Berlo’s model of communication. According to the berlo’s model of communication, the speaker and the listener must be on a common ground for smooth conversion which is sometimes not practical in the real scenario

Criticism of berlo’s smcr model of communication:

  1. No feedback / don’t know about the effect
  2. Does not mention barriers to communication
  3. No room for noise
  4. Complex model
  5. It is a linear model of communication
  6. Needs people to be on same level for communication to occur but not true in real life
  7. Main drawback of the model is that the model omits the usage of sixth sense as a channel which is actually a gift to the human beings (thinking, understanding, analyzing etc).