Shannon Weaver's Communication Model: 7 Key Concepts (2022) (2023)

Shannon and Weaver's model of communication is a mathematical theory of communication that states that human communication can be divided into 6 key concepts: sender, encoder, channel, noise, decoder and receiver.

Shannon Weaver's Communication Model: 7 Key Concepts (2022) (1)

A later version of Norbert Weiner's theory added a seventh concept ("feedback") that changed the model from a linear model to a cyclic model.

Due to her great popularity, she is called the "mother of all models". The model is also known as "information theory" or "Shannon theory" because Claude Shannon was the main person who developed the theory.

The main value of the model is that it explains how messages are lost and distorted in the communication process.

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Definition of the Shannon and Weaver model

Shannon and Weaver's model is a linear communication model that provides a framework for analyzing the sending and receiving of messages.

He is best known for his ability to explain how messages can become confusing and misinterpreted between the time the message is sent and received.

Shannon explained what the point of his model was in his famous article entitled "A Mathematical Theory of Communication", in which he outlined the theory:

"The fundamental problem of communication is to reproduce, exactly or approximately, a message sent from one point to another" (Shannon, 1948, p. 379).

With this mathematical theory of communication, he hoped to more effectively identify the pressure points where communication breaks down.

Related communication models:

  • The Westley and Maclean model
  • Lasswells Modell
  • spiral dance template
  • Scheduling Theory


Shannon Weaver's model was first proposed in the 1948 paper "A Mathematical Theory of Communication".Bell Systems Technical Magazineby Claude Shannon and Warren Weaver:

  • Shannon and Weaver were both from the United States.
  • Claude Shannon was a mathematician.
  • Warren Weaver was an electrical engineer.
  • Many believe that this mathematical theory of communication was primarily developed by Claude Shannon alone, with Warren Weaver playing a minimal role. In academic disciplines, it is often referred to simply as "Shannon's information theory".
  • Shannon developed the theory to improve understanding of telephone communications and ultimately improve the quality of telephones.
  • Later it was used as a general theory of communication.

Shannon and Weaver model explained

Shannon Weaver's mathematical theory of communication model follows the concept of communication along a linear path from sender to receiver with the following steps:

Shannon Weaver's Communication Model: 7 Key Concepts (2022) (2)

1. Sender (information source)

Shannon Weaver's model starts with the sender or "information source". You are the person (or object or thing, any source of information) who has the information to begin with. The information source starts the process by selecting a message to send, someone to send the message to, and a channel through which to send the message.

A sender can send a message in many ways: orally (through the spoken word), in writing, through body language, music, etc.

Example:An example sender might be the person who reads a newscast on the evening news. They decide what to say and how to say it before the news starts.

(Video) Shannon -Weaver Model of Communication

2. Encoder (Sender)

The next step in Shannon Weaver's model is the encoder. The encoder is the machine (or person) that converts the idea into signals that can be sent from sender to receiver. Shannon's model was originally developed to explain communication through means such as telephones and computers, which encode our words with codes such as binary digits or radio waves.

However, the coder can also be a person who translates an idea into spoken words, written words or sign language to communicate an idea to someone.

Examples:The encoder could be a phone that converts our voice into binary ones and zeros to send over the phone lines (the channel). Another encoding could be a radio station converting the voice into waves that are transmitted to someone over the air.

3. Canal

The next step in Shannon Weaver's model is the "channel". The communication channel is the infrastructure that receives the information from the sender and transmitter to the decoder and receiver. We sometimes call this "middle".

Examples:A person sending an email uses the World Wide Web (Internet) as the medium. A person talking on a landline phone uses electrical cables and wires as conduit.

When we are face to face, we may not have a separate channel for the sound waves of our voice that carry the sound from the sender's mouth to the receiver's ear.

4. Noise

The next step in Shannon Weaver's model is noise. Noise stops a message on its way from sender to receiver. It is named after the idea that "noise" can interfere with our understanding of a message. There are two types of noise: internal and external.

internal noiseIt happens when a sender makes a mistake when encoding a message or a receiver makes a mistake when decoding the message. Here are the two points where this can happen:

  • At the time of encoding (for example, when you misspell a word in a text message);
  • At the time of decoding (for example, when someone misinterprets a sentence when reading an email)

external noiseIt happens when something external (not under the control of the sender or receiver) prevents the message from being delivered. So there is external noise:

  • At the time of transmission over the channel (for example, when we are talking on a busy road and the recipient has trouble hearing the car noise)

One of the most important objectives for those who apply this theory is to identify the causes of noise and try to minimize them to improve the quality of the message.

Examples:Examples of external noise could be the crackle of a badly tuned radio, a lost letter in the mail, a pause in a TV program or a drop in the Internet connection.

Examples of internal noise include someone having a headache and unable to concentrate, someone speaking with a strong accent, or the sender mumbling while speaking.

5. Decoder

The next step in Shannon Weaver's model is the "decoder". Decoding is the exact opposite of encoding. Shannon and Weaver developed this model in relation to the communication that takes place through devices such as telephones. Therefore, this model usually requires a device that decodes a message from binary digits or returns the waveforms in a format that the recipient can understand.

When we talk about direct communication between people without the use of technology, there may still be a need for decoding. For example, you may need to decode a secret message, convert written words into something that makes sense to you when read aloud, or you may need to interpret (decode) the meaning of an image sent to you.

Examples:Decoders can include computers that convert binary packets of 1s and 0s into pixels on a screen that form words, a telephone that converts signals such as digits or waves into sounds, and cell phones that also convert bits of data into readable (and audible) convertor. . posts

6. Receiver (Target)

The next step in Shannon Weaver's model is the "receiver". The receiver is the end point of Shannon and Weaver's original model of the technical communication process. This is the stage where the person finally understands the message or what is left after accounting for the noise.

Examples:Examples of a recipient could be: the person on the other end of a phone, the person who reads an email you sent, an automated online payment system that received credit card details for payment, etc.


The last step in Shannon Weaver's model is "feedback". In fact, the "feedback" step was not originally proposed by Shannon and Weaver in 1948.Norbert Weiner developed the feedback stagein response to criticisms of the linearity of the approach. ("Linear" means messages only go in one direction.)

Feedback occurs when the recipient of the message responds to the sender to close the communication loop. You can reply to let the sender know you received the message or to show the sender:

(Video) Transmission Model of Communication: Shannon and Weaver

  • If they received the message clearly and without noise
  • How well do you understand the message?

However, the "feedback" elements seem to be an afterthought and have been the subject of much criticism (see this article on "model disadvantages" later in this article for more details).

Examples:Feedback does not occur in all situations. Sometimes, like when we watch TV, we usually don't let the people talking on TV know what we're thinking... we just watch the show.

Some times when feedback occurs are:

  • While chatting with friends.
  • When you write a response email
  • Through your facial expressions and body language during a conversation.
  • etc.

Examples of Shannon Weaver's Communication Model

The Shannon-Weaver communication model was originally proposed for technical communication, such as through telephone communication. However, it is widely used in various areas of human communication.

Here are some examples of how the Shannon-Weaver model works:

a) A telephone conversation.

Sender:The sender is the person who made the call and wants to say something important to the person on the other end of the line.

Encoder:The phone converts the person's voice into a series of binary data packets that can be sent over the phone lines.

Canal:The channel is the telephone wires themselves.

Noise:Noise can be generated when the speaker hums, phone lines are cut during a thunderstorm, or the phone's encoders/decoders are not working properly.

Decoder:The recipient's phone converts received binary data packets into tones that mimic the sender's voice.

Receptor:The receiver listens to the tones emitted by the decoder and interprets the message.

Return message:The receiver can talk back to let the sender know what he heard or understood.

b) listen to the radio

Sender:The radio announcer speaks into his microphone.

Encoder:The microphone and its computer convert the radio host's voice into binary data packets that are sent to the radio station. The radio transmitter, which is also part of the encoder, converts this data into radio waves ready for transmission.

Canal:The channel is the radio waves that the radio transmitter sends out.

Noise:Noise is more likely to occur if the receiver's transistor radio is not tuned to the correct frequency, causing static interference, or if the receiver's transistor radio is too far away from the radio transmitter.

Decoder:The decoder is the transistor radio in the receiver that converts the radio waves into speech.

Receptor:The receiver is the person listening to the radio who will receive the complete message loud and clear if the noise has been avoided or minimized.

Return message:Feedback is difficult at this stage. However, the radio station may send researchers into the field to interview listeners to verify the effectiveness of their communication.

(Video) Shanon & Weaver Theory of Communication

c) A personal interview

Here's another example of how Shannon and Weaver's communication model might work for human communication:

Sender:The person initiating the conversation will say something to start the communication process.

Encoder:The encoder step is generally used to explain a machine that encodes a message for transmission. For a face-to-face conversation, you might think of "encoding" as the sender's way of converting your idea into understandable words and phrases.

Canal:There are no wires or radio waves involved here; Instead, sound is transmitted through sound waves generated by the voice.

Noise:The sender may have been muttering or having an accent that caused the message to be garbled (internal noise). There may be wind or traffic making it difficult to hear the message (external noise).

Decoder:Although there is no machine here, the listener must convert the words he hears into a readable message in his head.

Receptor:The receiver is the second person in the conversation that the sender is talking to.

Return message:Face-to-face communication involves a lot of feedback as each person takes turns talking. If someone's message doesn't go over well, you can easily ask for clarification.

Pros and cons of the Shannon-Weaver model

Shannon and Weaver's communication model has many advantages and disadvantages. Here are some:


1. Explains the barriers to effective communication very well

Shannon Weberinformation theorywas revolutionary because it explains the concept of "noise" in detail. It shows how information breaks down and helps people identify areas for improvement in communication.

For example, the model also includes three "levels" at which communication can be stopped. They are: technical problems, semantic problems and effectiveness problems:

  • Technical problems:if the decoder, encoder or channel is causing problems. For example, if a major messaging machine breaks down.
  • Semantic problems:This is the case when the message sent differs from the message received (a practical way to think of this is in the game "Telephone", also known as "Chinese Whisper" or "Broken Phone"). tell).
  • Efficiency issues:This explains how well the message can evoke a response or reaction from the recipient.

2. Break the communication into understandable parts

The model allows you to observe the critical steps in transmitting information from beginning to end.

3. Transferable to various situations

That onecommunication modelIt was originally meant to explain communication through technical devices. However, it has been used to explain just about every form of communication you can think of.


1. It is a linear model / feedback is not sufficiently taken into account

Shannon Weaver's original 1948 draft did not include a "feedback" component. When Weaver later added it, it was added after the fact.

As such, it lacks the complexity of truly cyclic models like this one.Modelo Osgood-Schramm.

2. Does not consider power relations

The model does not socio-scientifically examine how information is interpreted differently due to power relations or the identity of people communicating with each other.

(Video) Shannon-Weaver's Communication Model Explained

3. Does not address one-to-many communication

The "mother of all models" does not talk about the problems that arise with one transmitter and multiple receivers. For a better analysis of mass communication, use a model like this oneLasswell's Communicationsmodell.

Related:List of mass communication theories


Shannon Weaver's model of communication is the "mother of all models" of human communication. It is also known as "information theory". It is a mathematical theory considered a "linear" model of communication. Developed by Claude Shannon and Warren Weaver, it is considered a highly effective communication model that explains the entire communication process from the information source to the information receiver.


Al-Fedaghi, S. (2012). A conceptual basis for the Shannon-Weaver model of communication.International Journal of Soft Computing, 7(1): 12 – 19.

Al-Fedaghi, S. (2012). Codeless communication and the Shannon-Weaver model of communication.International Conference on Computer Software and Applications.

Griffin, EM (2006).A first look at the theory of communication.. Londres: McGraw-Hill.

Littlejohn, S.W. e Foss, K.A. (2009).Encyclopedia of Communication Theory.(Part 1). London: Sage.

Shannon, C. (1948). A mathematical theory of communication.Bell System Technical Diary,27(1): 379-423. (You mayAccess this article for free here)

Shannon, CE e Warren Weaver. (1963).The mathematical theory of communication. Illinois: University of Illinois Press.

Green, S. (2000). Fifty years of Shannon's theory. In: Verdu, S & McLaughlin, SW (eds.).Information theory: 50 years of discovery. . . . (S. 13-34). Nova York: IEEE-Presse.

Chris Drew (PhD)

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(Video) Shannon Weaver Model of communication

Dr Chris Drew is the founder of Useful Professor. He holds a PhD in Education and has published over 20 articles in academic journals. He is the former editor of the Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education.


What are the 7 key concepts of the Shannon Weaver model? ›

The Shannon and Weaver Model of Communication is a mathematical theory of communication that argues that human communication can be broken down into 6 key concepts: sender, encoder, channel, noise, decoder, and receiver.

What was the main focus of Shannon and Weaver's communication model? ›

Shannon and weaver model simply proposes that a message actually originates from the person who gets the thought or has the information. The sender is also called the Source of information or the Information Source.

What is Shannon Weaver model of communication example? ›

What is example of Shannon Weaver model? An example of the Shannon-Weaver model is a telephone call. Here, a person who makes the call is the sender and uses a telephone as the encoder to turn the message into a form which can be relayed through wires.

What are the elements of Shannon Weaver model? ›

It is a transmission model consisting of five elements: an information source, which produces a message; a transmitter, which encodes the message into signals; a channel, to which signals are adapted for transmission; a receiver, which decodes (reconstructs) the message from the signal; a destination, where the message ...

How would you describe Shannon Weaver model? ›

Explanation of Shannon Weaver Model

The sender encodes the message and sends it to the receiver through a technological channel like telephone and telegraph. The sender converts the message into codes understandable to the machine. The message is sent in codes through a medium.

Which type of communication do we usually take in by 7 %? ›

The rule states that 7 percent of meaning is communicated through spoken word, 38 percent through tone of voice, and 55 percent through body language. It was developed by psychology professor Albert Mehrabian at the University of California, Los Angeles, who laid out the concept in his 1971 book Silent Messages (1971).

What are the different communication models answer? ›

The three models of communication we will discuss are the transmission, interaction, and transaction models. Although these models of communication differ, they contain some common elements.

Which are the two types of communication Class 7? ›

Types of Communication: Formal & Informal Communication.

Why is the Shannon Weaver model most widely used? ›

The Shannon and Weaver model of communication is probably the best known of all communication models. This video demonstrates the two reasons behind its popularity: (1) it identifies the most important components of any communication process, and (2) it diagrams how those components interact.

Why is Shannon theory important? ›

Shannon demonstrated mathematically that even in a noisy channel with a low bandwidth, essentially perfect, error-free communication could be achieved by keeping the transmission rate within the channel's bandwidth and by using error-correcting schemes: the transmission of additional bits that would enable the data to ...

What was Shannon and Weaver's primary concern in developing their model? ›

Shannon and Weaver were primarily involved with the investigation of technological communication. Their model is perhaps more accurately referred to as a model of information theory (rather than communication theory). Consequently, their main concern was with the kind of physical (or mechanical) noise discussed above.

What are the 8 methods of communication? ›

Here are eight of the most effective ways to communicate with customers.
  • E-mail. ...
  • Website. ...
  • Phone Technology. ...
  • Text Messaging. ...
  • Web Chat. ...
  • Social Media. ...
  • Video Messaging. ...
  • Handwritten Notes.
Oct 30, 2018

What are the 6 types of communication models? ›

What is a Model
  • Aristotle Model of Communication.
  • Berlo's Model of Communication.
  • Shannon and Weaver Model of Communication.
  • Schramm's Model of Communication.
  • Helical Model of Communication.

What are the 8 components of communication model? ›

The communication process involves understanding, sharing, and meaning, and it consists of eight essential elements: source, message, channel, receiver, feedback, environment, context, and interference.

What are the four 4 common models of communication? ›

The linear communication models are:
  • Aristotle's Model.
  • Lasswell's Model.
  • Shannon-Weaver Model.
  • Berlo's S-M-C-R Model.


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