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Social Process in which individuals employ symbols to establish and interpret meaning in their environment.

Linear Model of Communication

One-way view of communication that assumes a message is sent by a source to a receiver through a channel.

Interactional Model of Communication

View of communication as the sharing of meaning with feedback that links the sender and receiver.

Transactional Model of Communication

View of communication as the simultaneous sending and receiving of messages.


-Arbitrary label given to a phenomenon
-concrete symbol represents an object (cat)
-abstract symbol represents an idea (love)


The perceived rightness or wrongness of actions or behavior and determining what is right or wrong is influenced by society's rules and laws.
In communication ethical issues surface whenever messages potentially influence others.

Rhetorical Tradition

-persuasion, public speaking
Ex) State of the Union Address

Semiotic Tradition

-study of signs, interpretation of signs and symbols
-meaning is achieved when we share a common language
Ex) Ring=married Crying=sad

Phenomenological Tradition

-A personal interpretation of everyday life and activities
-Experiencing otherness by eliminating biases in a conversation
Ex) people who have different points of view or back round.

Cybernetic Tradition

-Emphasizes information processing as an information science
-Broader systematic viewpoint of communication
-There are different levels of ability
(most mathematical)

Socio-Psychological Tradition

-Cause -> Effect
-Behavior is influenced by one or more variables
-Uses experiments and surveys

Socio-Cultural Tradition

-Language structures a persons reality
-Our everyday interactions with others depend heavily on preexisting, shared cultural patterns and social constructs.
-social order and reality are co-created

Critical Tradition

-Emphasized advocacy of fairness, concern for injustice, oppression
Ex) Karl Marx


Communication with oneself

Ex) Impression formation and decision making; symbols and meaning; observations and attributions; ego involvement and persuasion


Face-to face communication

Ex) Relationship maintenance strategies; relational intimacy; relationship control; interpersonal attraction

Small group

Communication within a group of people

Ex) Gender and group leadership; group vulnerability; groups and stories; group decision making; task difficulty


Communication within and among large and extended environments

Ex) Organizational hierarchy and power; culture and organizational life; employee morale, opinions and worker satisfaction


Communication to a large audience

Ex) Communication apprehension; delivery effectiveness; speech and text criticism; ethical speechmaking; popular culture analysis

Mass media

Communication to a very large audience through mediated forms

Ex) Use of media; affiliation and television programming; television and values; media and need fulfillment; effects of social networking sites


Communication between and among members of different cultures

Ex) Culture and rule setting; culture and anxiety; hegemony; ethnocentrism


An abstract system of concepts and their relationship that help us to understand a phenomenon

1. Level of generality
-grand: applies to a lot of people as a whole (quantitative)
-mid-range: applies to a group but not everyone
-narrow: applies to a very small group (qualitative)
-concepts: elements of the theory
-nominal: not observable (love, friendship)
-real: observable
-relationships: how concepts are connected
-linear, interactive, transactional
3. Goals
-social change

Theory and Experience

Abstract theory enables us to understand concrete experiences and observations, and that a theory itself is capable of being modified by an observation. Our concrete experiences and observations are interpreted by us through the lens offered by the theory we are using.

Covering law approach

Seeks to explain an event in the real world by referring to a general law. Researchers believe that communication behavior is governed by forces that are predictable and generalizable.

Rules approach

A guideline for creating theory that builds human choices into explanations. Human behavior is a result of free choice, and humans engage in intentional goal oriented behavior.
-habitual: nonnegotiable rules that are usually created by an authority figure.
-parametric: rules that are set by an authority figure but are subject to some negotiation
-tactical: unstated rules used to achieve a personal or interpersonal goal.

Systems approach

A guideline for creating theory that acknowledges human choice and the constraints of the systems involved.
Requires systematic nonuniversal, generalizations, does not depend on inductive reasoning, separates the logical from the empirical, allows alternative explanations for the same phenomenon and permits partial explanations.

Positive/Empirical approach

Assumes that objective truths can be uncovered and that the process of inquiry that discovers these truths can be. at least in part, value neutral.
An empirical researcher strives to be objective and works for control, over the important concepts in the theory.

Interpretive approach

Views truth as subjective and co-created by the participants. with the researcher clearly one of the participants.

Critical approach

An approach stressing the researchers responsibility to change the inequalities in the status quo.
Researchers believe that those in power shape knowledge in ways that work to perpetuate the status quo and want to resolve power imbalances to give voice to the silenced.
Powerful people work to keep themselves in power.


A branch of knowledge focused on the nature of reality.


A branch of knowledge focused on how we know things.


A branch of knowledge focused on what is worth knowing.


Theory about theory

Scientific method

The traditional method for doing research involving controlled observations and analysis to test the principles of a theory.

Deductive logic

moving form the general (the theory) to the specific (the observation)

Inductive logic

Moving form the specific (the observations) to the general (the theory)


Making an abstract idea measurable and observable.


Focused examination within a context of interest; may be guided by the hypothesis or research question.


The raw materials collected by the researcher to answer the question posed in the research or to test a hypothesis.


converting raw data to a category system.

Grounded theory

Theory induced from data and analysis.

Pure research

Research to generate knowledge.

Applied research

Research to solve or create a policy.


The stability and predictability of an observation.


The truth value of an observation.


The range of behaviors covered by the theory.
The more people- Quantitative
The less people- Qualitative

Logical consistency

The extent to which the theory makes sense and does not contain contradictions.


The simplicity of the explanation of the theory. (straight forward)


The usefulness of the theory's explanations.


The ability to investigate a theory's accuracy. If you cant test for it, it is just an idea.


The extent to which a theory has generated new thinking and research.

Test of time

The ability of the theory to remain applicable and relevant through time.

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