Interpersonal Process, Day 1

Course(s) Used:

  • Interpersonal Communication

Goals and Objectives:

  • Students can describe the transactional model of communication.
  • Students can list characteristics that separate Interpersonal Communication from other types of communication.

Rationale: This lesson lays the foundation for the study of communication as a field, the location of interpersonal communication within that field, and the major concepts used in modeling the process of communication.

Formative Assessment:

  • Download the activity document from the Learning Management System
  • Identify three key members of your social group
  • Rate the relationship and answer the questions
  • Upload the document to the learning management system

Materials Needed


  • None


  • Classroom computer and projector

Outline of the Lesson

  1. Review of previous session’s content
  2. A hard question: “What is Communication?”
    1. Transactional (a coordinated action, like dancing)
    2. Intentional or Unintentional
    3. Irreversible
    4. Unrepeatable (Neither you, them, nor the situation are the same)
    5. Includes Content and Relationship dimensions
  3. Misconceptions about Communication
    1. Communication doesn’t always promote understanding.
    2. Communication isn’t always beneficial.
    3. Not all problems can be solved by communicating.
    4. Communication is a learned skill, not a natural ability.
  4. What makes communication “Interpersonal”?
    1. Unique. It is customized according to who is involved.
    2. Interaction is interdependent.
    3. Interpersonal messages involve self-disclosure.
    4. Interpersonal communication is intrinsically rewarding.
  5. Significant models of Communication1
    1. Aristotelian Model2
      1. The oldest model known, circa 300 BCE.
      2. Doesn’t really focus on most communication.
      3. A transmission model.
    2. Bell’s Model3
      1. Inserting technology into interpersonal communication motivated study on its process.
      2. Studies communication from the perspective of another field (engineering).
      3. A transmission model.
    3. Shannon’s Model4
      1. Builds on Bell’s model.
      2. A transmission model.
      3. One of the most famous models of communication.
    4. Lasswell’s Model5
      1. Unique because of its memorable sequence of phrases.
      2. A transmission model.
    5. Schramm’s Model6
      1. The first model that included a concept of different perspectives in the model.
      2. Still a transmission model.
    6. Osgood & Schramm’s Model7
      1. The first model that displayed communication as an ongoing, reciprocal process.
    7. Berlo’s Model8
    8. Transactional Model9
      1. Barnlund’s model has spawned several transactional models, but these are the dominant form used today.
  6. Hands on group work
  7. Lesson closing


This lesson is likely to run over. This is a lot of content for the class time allotted.

Variations and Accommodations

Follow guidance from local accommodation authorities.

  1. VA ^
  2. Image retrieved from ^
  3. Bell Family Papers, Library of Congress. Retrieved from ^
  4. Shannon, C. E. (1948) A Mathematical Theory of Communication, The Bell System Technical Journal, 27, 379–423, 623–646. ^
  5. Laswell, H. (1948). The structure and function of communication in society. In L. Bryson (Ed.), The communication of ideas. New York: Harper. ^
  6. Schramm, W. (1954). The process and effects of mass communication. Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press. ^
  7. Schramm, W. (1954). The process and effects of mass communication. Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press. ^
  8. Berlo, D. (1960). The process of communication: An introduction to theory and practice. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston. ^
  9. Barnlund, D. (1970). A transactional model of communication. In K. K. Sereno & C. D. Mortensen (Eds.), Foundations of communication theory, 83-102. New York: Harper. ^