Shannon & Weaver’s Theory of Communication

Shannon and Weaver’s theory of communication is seen as the beginning of communication studies. They came up with a model that visually displays communication as a linear process. See the image below.


The Model

The source is the decision maker, the transmitter changes the message into a signal which is sent through a channel to a receiver.

Example: For a telephone, the channel is the wire, the signal is an electrical current within it and the transmitter/receiver are the telephone handsets.


Simply, noise is disturbance on the line. Originally, communication was limited to radio and then later television and telephones. Noise is anything that is added to a signal between its transmission and its reception. Noise can distort the intended sound and can confuse the intentions of the sender and limits the desired information that can be sent.


Predictable messages or that which is convention can be considered redundant. Saying ‘hello’ to a friend on the street is predictable and therefore redundant. However, this is not to say that redundancy is unnecessary or a waste of time and effort. Useful information, that of low predictability and therefore entropic (the opposite of redundant) information can often to be hard to gain without redundancy which is, in fact, necessary for practical communication.

Think about it: About 50% of the English language is redundant, and yet effective communication uses a wide range of it.

Hopefully, this information about Shannon and Weaver’s Communication Theory is helpful, or at least gives you a basis on which to research more as I may do in a future post.

Rachel Measures

Fiske, J (2011) Introduction to Communication Studies, 3rd ed. P5-9.
I do not own the above image, it is from:

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