Transactional Model of Communication

Review this communication model to explore the things that can affect our understanding of a given interaction.

Models of communication have evolved significantly since Shannon and Weaver first proposed their well- known conceptual model more than 60 years ago. One of the most useful models for understanding public speaking is Barnlund's transactional model of communication.

In the transactional model, communication is seen as an ongoing, circular process. We are constantly affecting and are affected by those we communicate with. The transactional model has a number of interdependent processes and components, including the encoding and decoding processes, the communicator, the message, the channel, and noise. Although not directly addressed in Barnlund's (2008) original transactional model, participants' worldviews and the context also play an important role in the communication process. See Figure 1.2 for an illustration.

The transactional model of communication. It shows two people. They are surrounded by blobs to represent noise. The two people's communication is within a context. Each person has five circles above their head to represent their individual worldview. The circles are labeled axiology, ontology, epistemology, praxeology, and cosmology. One person is the communicator. The communicator gives the message through a channel formed between both people. The remaining person gives feedback back to the communicator through the same channel.

Figure 1.2 by Public Speaking Project. CC-BY-NC-ND.

Barnlund, D. C. (2008). A Transactional Model of Communication. In. C. D. Mortensen (Eds.), Communication Theory (2nd Ed), pp. 47–57. New Brunswick, New Jersey: Transaction.


Source: Lisa Schreiber and Morgan Hartranft,
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Last modified: Wednesday, September 23, 2020, 12:20 PM