Sender-Message-Channel-Receiver Model of Communication

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The sender-message-channel-receiver (SMCR) model of communication is an expansion of the Shannon-Weaver model of communication. David Berlo created this model, which separated Shannon and Weaver's linear model into clear parts, in 1960. It has been expanded upon by other scholars.[1] Berlo described factors affecting the individual components in the communication making the communication more efficient.


Berlo's model of communication developed from Claude Shannon and Warren Weaver's mathematical model, which was first published in Bell System Technical Journal in 1948. The model was primary designed to improve the technical communication, but was later widely applied in different fields of communication.[2] According to the Shannon-Weaver model, communication includes the following concepts: sender, encoder, channel, decoder, receiver and feedback. Furthermore, there is also concept of "noise", which affects the communication process going through the channel and makes the message more difficult to understand by the receiver.[3] Each of those concepts are defined as follows:

Sender: the originator of message.
Encoder: the transmitter which converts the message into signals (the way message is changed into signals, for example sound waves).
Channel: the signal carrier or medium
Decoder: the reception place of the signal which converts signals into message. Decoding is done by the receiver when he gets the message.
Receiver: the recipient of the message from the sender. He usually gives feedback to the sender in order to make sure that the message was properly received.
Noise the message, transferred through a channel, can be interrupted by external noise (for instance, conversation may be interrupted by thunder or crowd noise).
Feedback: The receiver can get an inaccurate message. This is why feedback from the receiver is important in case the message is not properly received. Furthermore, the noise can also affect the decoding of the message by the receiver.[4]

Practical Example of Shannon-Weaver model of communication:

Thomson made call to his assistant "come here I want to see you." During his call, noise appeared (transmission error) and his assistant received "I want" only. Again Assistant asked Thomson (feedback) "what do you want Thomson?"

  1. Sender: Thomson
  2. Encoder: Telephone (Thomson)
  3. Channel: Cable
  4. Noise: Distraction in voice
  5. Decoder: Telephone (Assistant)
  6. Receiver: Assistant.

Berlo's model was first published in 1960 in the book entitled El Proceso de la Comunicación (The Process of Communication). The model includes four components to describe the communication process: sender, message, channel, and receiver, each of them affected by many factors. The model also focuses on encoding and decoding, which happens before the sender sends the message and before the receiver receives the message respectively.

The main feature from the previous Shannon-Weaver model is the focus on the purpose and objectives of communication. Berlo's model also includes verbal and non-verbal communications, and it considers the emotional aspects of the message.

Components of the SMCR model[edit]

The SMCR model explains the various components in the communication process. The four basic components are sender (or source), message, channel and receiver.[5]


Sender is the source of the message or the person who originates the message. The sender transfers the information using the following factors:

  • Communication Skills (ability to read, write, speak, and listen) directly affect the communication process.

An individual must possess excellent communication skills to make his communication effective and create an impact on the listeners. He should know how to speak and how pronounce a word correctly, where to take pauses and where to repeat, and so on. Similarly, if the receiver does not understand the message, the communication will be ineffective.

  • Attitudes towards the audience and subject

The attitude of the sender and the receiver affects the message. The person's attitude towards the receiver and the environment changes the meaning and effect of the message.

  • Knowledge

In this context, knowledge is not the level of education. It is the clarity of the information which the sender wants to convey to the receiver. Familiarity with the subject of the message makes it easier to understand.

Values, beliefs, religion, laws, rules and general understanding of society affect the sender's way of communicating the message.

Culture refers to the cultural background of the sender or receiver.


The step of creating a message (also called encoding) is the transformation of thoughts into words that sender sends to receiver. It can be in the form of voice, audio, text, video or other media. Any message comprises the following elements:

  • Content is the thing, which the whole message from beginning to end contains.
  • Elements are the non-verbal basics like language, gestures, body language etc. Content is accompanied by some elements.[6]
  • Treatment is the way in which the message is transferred to the receiver. Treatment also effects the feedback of the receiver.
  • Structure of the message is the way it has been structured into various parts or arranged. It influences the effectiveness of the message.
  • Code is the form in which the message is sent. It might be in the form of language, text, video, etc.


Channel refers to the medium used to send the message. In mass communication technical machines might be used as a channel like telephone, internet, etc. But in general communication, the five senses of a human being is the channel for the communication flow and it affects the effectiveness of the channel:

  • Hearing - We receive the message through hearing.
  • Seeing - We perceive through seeing. We also get non-verbal messages by seeing.
  • Touching - Many of the non-verbal communication happens from touching like holding hands.
  • Smelling - We collect information from smelling.
  • Tasting - Taste also provides the information to be sent as a message.


Receiver is the person who gets the message and tries to understand what the sender actually wants to convey and then responds accordingly. This is also called as decoding. Berlo's model believes that the effective communication can be achieved if the sender and the receiver are on the same level. The message might not have the same effect as intended if the receiver and sender are not similar.

The receiver must also have a very good listening skill. Other factors are similar to that of the sender:

  • Communication skills
  • Attitudes
  • Knowledge
  • Social Systems
  • Culture

Criticisms of Berlo's SMCR Model[edit]

  1. There is no concept of feedback, so the effect is not considered.
  2. There is no concept of noise or any kind of barriers in communication process.
  3. It is a linear model of communication, there is no two way communication.
  4. Both of the people must be similar (on same level for communication) according to all the factors mentioned above. Thus, the model is not practical in real life.
  5. 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.).[7]

Berlo's model was further developed in 1973 by W. Schramm, who used a relational model instead of linear. Schramm also used the effects and effects analysis components from Berlo's model and suggested an interaction component in relation with active, selective and manipulative audience. He argued that the most dramatic change in communication theory in the last 40 years has been the abandonment of the idea of passive audience. Audience is a full partner in the process of communication.[8]


  1. ^ Berlo, David (1960). The process of communication. New York. New York: Rinehart, & Winston.
  2. ^ John Robinson Pierce (1980). An Introduction to Information Theory: Symbols, Signals & Noise. Courier Dover Publications.
  3. ^ Shannon, Claude (1948). "A Mathematical Theory of Communication". Bell System Technical Journal. 27 (3): 379–423, 623–656. doi:10.1002/j.1538-7305.1948.tb01338.x. hdl:11858/00-001M-0000-002C-4314-2.
  4. ^ Weaver, Warren and Shannon, Claude Elwood (1963). The Mathematical Theory of Communication. University of Illinois Press. ISBN 0-252-72548-4.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  5. ^ Uma Narula (2006). Handbook of communication models, perspectives, strategies. Atlantic publishers&distributors.
  6. ^ Tufte, Thomas (2006). Communication for social change. Anthology: historical and contemporary readings. Denise Dray-Felder. ISBN 0-9770357-9-4.
  7. ^ "BERLO'S SMCR MODEL OF COMMUNICATION". Communication Theory. Retrieved 2017-04-11.
  8. ^ Robert E. Babe (2015). Wilbur Schramm and Noam Chomsky Meet Harold Innis: Media, Power, and Democracy. London: Lexington books. ISBN 978-0-7391-2368-3.