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MAC 111



Most television users around the world, especially in Nigeria now prefer to use flat screen television and home theatre electronics gadgets in their home. What specific characteristic of the media of mass communication is responsible for such growing interest?

3.3Attributes of Communication

As contained in Folarin (2002), Micheal Burgoon and Micheal Ruffner pointed out five attributes of communication; added to that are other six by Bert Bradly. They are briefly presented below:


Communication is transactional because both the source and the receiver are having an impact on one other.


Our emotional responses affect the way we communicate with others and the way others communicate with us. This makes communication affective.


This means that the meanings attached to communication exist in the participants and not in the non-verbal symbols we employ in communicating. But each participant is able to understand the other because of the codes of verbal and non-verbal symbols that they share.


This means that communication provides satisfaction to the communicator.


Communication can be used as a tool to control our environment and to affect or influence other people.


Communication is not static. It involves changes and effects as the elements interact.


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There is no beginning and no end to communication in a person’s life.

8. Complex

It occurs at many levels and reflects many influences.

9. Irreversible

Once a message is sent, it cannot be withdrawn. Communication process cannot be turned back.


The elements in the communication process are not rigidly patterned, as in a linear or circular manner.


A given communication act cannot be recreated.


One of the attributes of communication is that given communication act cannot be recreated. How would you justify this statement using both the radio and newspaper as two different instances?


By virtue of its nature, communication takes place in three ways, namely Mass (one-to-many), interpersonal (one-to-one), and computing (many-to-one) with a fourth communication mode, many-to-many, emerging. On the Internet, everyone can be a producer or a receiver, individuals can receive and send personal or mass messages, and information can be provided by many and accessed by many as a mass audience or stored for individuals to select and retrieve.


In this unit, we have been able to establish that communication has peculiar nature and characteristics. The characteristics include Impersonality, Portability and Mobility, Transportability/Proximity, Fidelity, Permanency, Cost and Universality. A team of scholars equally combined about eleven items to be attributes of communication, which include Transactional, Affective, Personal, Consummatory,



Instrumental, Dynamic, Continuous, Complex, Irreversible, Nonsequential and Unrepeatable


Take a cursory look at the nature, characteristics and attributes of communication discussed in this unit. Do they all apply to all forms of communication? If no, group them as they apply to forms of communication. For instance, ‘large nature of audience’ as an attribute belongs to mass communication and not inter personal communication.


Baran, S.J. (2002). Introduction to Mass Communication. New York: McGraw Hill.

Bitner, R. (1989). Mass Communication: An Introduction. New Jersey:

Prentice Hall.

Sambe J.A. (2005). Introduction to Mass Communication Practice in Nigeria. Ibadan: Spectrum Books Limited

Uyo, A. O. (1989). Mass Communication Media: Classification and Characteristics. New York: Civilities, 1987.


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3.0Main Content

3.1Process of Communication

3.2Elements of the Communication Process

3.3Analysis of the Communication Process



6.0Tutor-Marked assignment

7.0References/Further Readings


This unit takes a vivid look at the process of communication as well as the elements involved in the communication process. It equally takes a look at the analysis of the communication process.


At the end of this unit, you should be able to:

identify and explain what it takes for good communication to take place

Identify and explain elements of the communication process

determine various factors that influence the elements of the communication process.


3.1Process of Communication

Communication as a process is dynamic, recursive, on-going, continuous and cyclical. There is no recognisable beginning and end, neither is there a rigid sequence of interaction. But we may try to identify how the process begins.


This is the point at which the source sees the need to communicate. He receives stimulus that triggers him to communicate.


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The source processes the message he want to communicate into a form that will be understandable to the receivers. This may be a feeling, opinion, experiment etc.


The message is passed across to the receiver through a chosen medium or channel.


The receiver gets the message that is sent from the source


The message is processed, understood and interpreted by the receiver.


This is the reaction of the receiver to the message received, in form of feedback

The process of communication can be well understood by the models that have been designed to explain the process. This is explained later under models of communication.

James, Ode and Soola (1990:4 cited in Sambe 2005:3) state that the communication process involves an action, reaction and interaction. By Action, it refers to the initiative taken by a sender or source to share information, observation or opinion with others. This could be done through writing, speaking, drawing or gesturing.

By Reaction, it means a response to the action taken by the sender. The kind of response determines whether or not the receiver is willing to be a party to the communication encounter, and sets the tone or atmosphere for it. Reaction in a communication process may come by way of reply, rejoinder, answer, acknowledgement, retort or defence.

By Interaction, it means that communication is the spontaneous reciprocity of messages between a sender and a receiver. It is the stage of exchange of messages between two or more persons sharing common experiences, codes or symbols. Interaction as a process of communication creates an overlap of field of experience between a source and a recipient. With this, they are tuned to each other physically,


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mentally or psychologically, and provide a basis to carry on the encounter (interaction) meaningfully and successfully.


Communication is not a singular deed, but a set of co-ordinated, interlinked deeds. Explain.

3.2Elements of the Communication Process

We can identify about seven elements that are involved in the communication process. They are:

1. Stimulus

This is the impulse that triggers off the communication exchange. It takes place at the ideation stage of communication. We can also call it the reason one has for communicating, which may be to inform, educate, entertain etc.

2. Source

This is the person who begins the communication process. He is the one triggered by the stimulus and from him begins the communication activity. He could be referred to as the initiator, encoder or sender. He is the initiator because he begins the communication process. As the encoder, he packages the message in a way that it can be communicated and as the sender when he passes across the message by himself.

3. Message

This could be the idea, feelings, information, thought, opinion, knowledge or experience etc. that the source/sender wants to share.

4. Medium/Channel

Medium and channel are generally used interchangeably. But here, a distinction is made between the two. Medium could be regarded as the form adopted by the sender of the message to get it to the receiver. It could be oral or written form. The channel then is the pathway, route or conduit through which the message travels between the source and the receiver e.g. the channel of radio, television, newspaper, telephone etc. Channel provides a link that enables the source and the receiver to communicate. It may also be seen in terms of the five physical sensessight, sound, touch, taste and smell-through which messages can be sent, received, understood, interpreted and acted upon.


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5. Receiver

This is the person to whom the message is sent. He is the target audience or the recipient of the message. All the source/sender’s effort to communicate is to inform or affect the attitude of the receiver. That is why communication must be receiver-centred.

6. Feedback

This is the response or reaction of the receiver to the message sent. Communication is incomplete without feedback. It confirms that the message is well received and understood. Feedback guides the source in communication process and helps him to know when to alter or modify his message if not properly received. A feedback is positive when it shows that the message has been well received and understood and it could be negative when it shows that the intended effect has not been achieved

7. Noise

Noise is interference that keeps a message from being understood or accurately interpreted. It is a potent barrier to effective communication. Noise may be in different forms:

I.Physical Noise: This comes from the environment and keeps the message from being heard or understood. It may be from loud conversations, side-talks at meetings, vehicular sounds, sounds from workmen’s tools etc.

II.Psychological Noise: This comes from within as a result of poor mental attitude, depression, emotional stress or disability.

III.Physiological Noise: Results form interference from the body in form of body discomforts, feeling of hunger, tiredness etc

IV. Linguistic Noise: This is from the source’s inability to use the language of communication accurately and appropriately. It may be a grammatical noise manifested in form of defects in the use of rules of grammar of a language, and faulty sentence structure. It may be semantic as in the wrong use of words or use of unfamiliar words, misspelling, etc. And it could also be phonological manifested in incorrect pronunciation.


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When is a communication message said to be completed? Why is feedback in Mass Communication said to be delayed?

3.3Analysis of the Communication Process

When we attempt to find the meaning of the basic constituents of a communication situation, it becomes clear that process is the key to how humans communicate. For example, you are in a large assembly hall awaiting the arrival of a featured speaker. You turn to the person next to you and begin to converse. In this situation you have immediately established a dyadic ("two-way") communication relationship, with the source and receiver interdependent. One defines the other. You may be the immediate source whereas the other person serves as receiver or vice versa. An interpersonal communication situation is set up between the two of you.

Suppose you want to establish communication contact with your neighbour. You feel the need; the message is transmitted by your central nervous system to your speech mechanism. At that point the part of the brain responsible for speech produces a message that expresses your purpose. You say, "Hello, my name is Sam." Once this message has been transmitted through time and space (the only way, so far, that we can adequately communicate with each other), the receiver's decoder goes to work. In a sense, this may be viewed as the reverse operation by the speech mechanism in the brain. Thus, if there is no interference at the hearing level and none at the decoding level, the response should be indicative that the expression "Hello, my name is Sam" had a socialcontact meaning for the receiver. A typical response might be "And I'm Susan." The miracle of communication has occurred again. Analytically, we notice in this example that the constituents were all present in the process--the source, the message, the channel, and the receiver. Although the source and receiver alternated and the messages from the two communicators were different, the channel--sound waves through the air--remained the same. Conceivably, one or both of the communicators could have written the message in a note rather than have spoken it.

Communication worked in this instance, but it does not work in all instances. For example, if you do not know what you want to say, your encoding mechanism cannot be instructed to transmit a message. A further difficulty may arise from the way you perceive another individual in relation to yourself. Suppose you thought that you held a higher social or economic status. Your encoder might transmit something like "Good day, I am Dr. Manners." Suppose you wanted to


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