Psychology of Communication

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Psychology of Communication

Matthew Bresnahan

COMM 125

Spring 2013

steve jobs quote remembering you are going to die

This quote by the late Steve Jobs encapsulates how we as a society view life. We live in own little world of apprehension. This idea can apply to our social systems, motivation, self-image, and personality. We are the only animal to have foreknowledge of death, yet we still are afraid of taking that leap and following your heart. What do people have to lose? They are living on this blue marble we call Earth for only a limited time, so why not take a chance and learn more about yourself in the process. Take life and make with it what you can—just take it and live.

Table of Contents

Communication Models……………………………………………………………………………………………. 3

Creativity………………………………………………………………………………………… 5

Communication Models 2

Components of Communication Model 2

Linear Model 3

Interactive model 4

Transitional model 4

Creativity 5

The Creative Process 5

Factors that foster creativity 5

Factors that inhibit creativity 5

Social Systems 7

Levels of a system 8

System concepts 8

Kenneth Burke and Drama 10

Burke’s Three Orientations 10

Burke on humans 10

Three Key Motives 11

Purgative Guilt Cycle 12

Drama 12

Mind and Brain 14

Brain 14

Left and right brain 15

Mind 15

Sigmund Freud’s view of psyche 16

Working together 16

Abstraction 17


Korzybski concepts to know 18

S.I. Hyakawa’s Abstraction Ladder 19 19


Memory, Attitude and Perception 20

Memory 20

Attitude 21

Perception 22

Meaning 24

Types of meaning 24

So, what is meaning anyway? 24

What gives my life meaning? 25

Burke’s Cluster Analysis 25

John Searle’s Speech Acts 25

Watzlawick’s 5 Axioms 26

Personality 27

Type A vs. Type B 28

The Big Five 28

Myers-Briggs Personality test 28

Harry Stack Sullivan 29

Gustav Ichheiser 29

Persuasion 32

Blast to the past 32

Fall of the Roman Empire 33

Burke and rhetoric 33

Postmodern movement of persuasion 33

Mass media and the Mind 34

Postmodern Movement 35


Communication Apprehension 37

A fate worse than death 37

Causes of Communication Apprehension 37

What can be done? 38

Changing communication apprehension 38

Communication competence 40

What is appropriate anyway? 40

Factors of Competence 40

Context 40


Assertiveness 42

Survival Strategies 43

Your social reality 45

What have I learned? 45

Communication Apprehension 36

Communication Competence 39

Assertiveness 41

Your Social Reality 44

Communication Models

As human beings, we are social creatures. Communication is the driving force behind everything we do. Communication can be verbal or nonverbal expressed through words, symbols, and gestures. Symbol referent is the thing that a symbol (as a word or sign) stands for. To understand the psychology of communication, you need to understand how communication works. This can be illustrated through communication models.

Components of Communication Model

  • Source is a person who sends the message. This message can either be verbal or nonverbal conveyed through words, symbols, or gestures.

  • Encoding- converting ideas into words and gestures – into a code that might be understood by the receiver.

  • Message- The key idea that is trying to be conveyed.

  • Channel- The medium (TV, radio, air) by which the message is delivered and received.

  • Receiver- The recipient of the message.

  • Decoding- translating the code, such as words and gestures, into ideas

  • Noise- anything that interferes in the communication process between a speaker and an audience. Noise can be external or internal, and it can disrupt the communication process at any point.

  • Feedback- response to the message.  It helps the sender in confirming the correct interpretation of message by the decoder. Feedback may be verbal (through words) or non-verbal (in form of smiles, sighs, etc.). It may take written form also in form of memos and reports.1

Linear Model

The linear model is where communication occurs in a line. In this model, the sender sends a message and the receiver receives messages.

Interactive model

The interactive model improves on the linear model by adding the concept of feedback allowing for the receiver to respond to the message. This model does not account for messages being sent simultaneously between sender and receiver.

Transitional model

Under this model, messages are simultaneous. It also implies that past behaviors and goals for the future feed into present communication, so the influences in the communication process transcend the current situation. Past conversations affect the meaning of current conversations. For example, a conversation with a friend will use symbols and gestures agreed upon in past conversations.

For more information on communication models, please refer to:

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