Models of communication have been formally developed and studied for more than 2,000 years, with Aristotle being one of the first to delve into the subject. A model's characteristics are affected by the person who developed the model, the location he was from, as well as his scholarly focus.
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Each model of communication will have several components that the theorist has decided come into play in a specific type of communication. For each model, these components will be different. For example, Aristotle's model involved a speaker, speech, occasion, audience and effect. Shannon and Weaver's model included a sender, encoder, channel, noise, reception and receiver. While some of the components in the two models may have similar roles, the whole of the components makes the models different.
Most models of communication are expressed in a diagram that summarises the interactions between the components. These diagrams make it easier for the flow of communication to be understood. Some models, like Aristotle's and Laswell's, are box-and-arrow models that show communication moving from one component to the other until the last component is reached. Other models, such as Osgood-Schramm's model, are circular. More complicated model shapes exist, including Frank Dance's helical-spiral model.
Different types of people have created models of communication, which has a profound effect on the perspective seen in the model. Aristotle was a philosopher of ancient Greece, where public speaking was of great importance, which is obvious in his model. Shannon and Weaver's model was developed by a mathematician and a scientist, making this model much more technical and scientific than other models of communication.
Each model of communication has a specific scope. Some models, such as Lasswell's, are broad in scope. Its components are general enough that the model can refer to many different situations. It could describe a telephone conversation, a radio broadcast or a face-to-face conversation. Aristotle's model is much more specific and works best when describing situations where one individual is making a speech to an audience of many people.
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