Models of Communication Essay

7547 Words Oct 30th, 2010 31 Pages
Although adapted and updated, much of the information in this lecture is derived from C. David Mortensen, Communication: The Study of Human Communication (New York: McGraw-Hill Book Co., 1972), Chapter 2, “Communication Models.”
A. What is a Model?
1. Mortensen: “In the broadest sense, a model is a systematic representation of an object or event in idealized and abstract form. Models are somewhat arbitrary by their nature. The act of abstracting eliminates certain details to focus on essential factors. . . . The key to the usefulness of a model is the degree to which it conforms--in point-by-point correspondence--to the underlying determinants of communicative behavior.”
2. “Communication models are merely pictures; they’re
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Models can miss important points of comparison. Chapanis (1961), “A model can tolerate a considerable amount of slop [p. 118].”
2. Can lead of a confusion of the model between the behavior it portrays
Mortensen: “Critics also charge that models are readily confused with reality. The problem typically begins with an initial exploration of some unknown territory. . . .Then the model begins to function as a substitute for the event: in short, the map is taken literally. And what is worse, another form of ambiguity is substituted for the uncertainty the map was designed to minimize. What has happened is a sophisticated version of the general semanticist’s admonition that “the map is not the territory.” Spain is not pink because it appears that way on the map, and Minnesota is not up because it is located near the top of a United States map.
“The proper antidote lies in acquiring skill in the art of map reading.”
3. Premature Closure
The model designer may escape the risks of oversimplification and map reading and still fall prey to dangers inherent in abstraction. To press for closure is to strive for a sense of completion in a system.
Kaplan (1964):
The danger is that the model limits our awareness of unexplored possibilities of conceptualization. We tinker with the model when we might be better occupied with the subject-matter itself. In many areas of human behavior, our knowledge is on the level of folk wisdom

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