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Berlo’s model follows the SMCR model. This model is not specific to any particular communication.

Berlo’s model includes a number of factors under each of the elements:

Source: The source is situated where the message originates.

Communication skills – It is the skill of the individual to communicate. For example, the ability to read, write, speak, listen etc.

Attitudes – This includes attitudes towards the audience, subject and towards oneself. For example, for the student, the attitude is to learn more and for teachers, it is to help teach.

Knowledge– Communicating also means that the person needs to be knowledgeable about the subject or topic. For e.g. a teacher needs to know about the subject in detail that he or she teaches so that they can communicate properly such that the students understand here.

Note: It refers, not to the general knowledge, but to the knowledge of the subject that the person is communicating and their familiarity with it.

Social system – The social system includes the various aspects of society like values, beliefs, culture, religion and a general understanding of society. It is where the communication takes place.

For example, classrooms differ from country to country just like people’s behaviours and how they communicate, etc.

Note: We can communicate only to the extent that the social system allows. When we communicate, we take the social system into account.

Culture: Culture of a particular society also comes under the social system.

According to this model, people can communicate only if the above requirements are met in the proper or adequate proportion.

Encoder: The sender of the message, from where the message originates, is referred to as the encoder. So the source encodes the message here.


Content – The body of a message, from the beginning to the end, comprises its content. For example, whatever the class teacher teaches in the class, from beginning to end, is the content of the message.

Elements – It includes various things like language, gestures, body language, etc. They constitute all the elements of a particular message. Any content is accompanied by some elements.

Treatment – It refers to the packing of the message and the way in which the message is conveyed or the way in which it is passed on or delivered.

Note: When there is too much treatment, communication will not go smoothly.

Structure– The structure of the message refers to how it is arranged; the way people structure the message into various parts.

Note: Message is the same, but if the structure is not properly arranged then the receiver will not understand the message.

Code– The code of the message refers to the means through which it is sent and in what form. It could be, for example, language, body language, gestures, music, etc. Even culture is a code. Through this, people give and receive messages and communication takes place.

Note:  Only when the code is clear, the message will be clear. The wrong usage may lead to misinterpretation.

Channel–  It refers to the five sense organs. The following are the five senses:

  • Hearing
  • Seeing
  • Touching
  • Smelling
  • Tasting

Communication occurs through one or more of these channels.

Hearing: The use of ears to receive the message. For example, orally transmitted messages, interpersonal communication etc.

Seeing: Visual channels, for example, Watching television so the message is conveyed through the scene/film.

Touching: The sense of touch can be used as a channel to communicate. For example, we touch, buy food, hugging our loved ones,etc.

Smelling: Smell also can be a channel to communicate. For example, perfumes, food, fragrances etc. Charred smell communicates something is burning. People can deduct which food is being cooked by its smell etc.

Tasting : The tongue is a muscular organ used in the act of eat and taste food. For example, while a food is being shared, the communication can happen regarding its taste.

Note: Despite not mentioning a medium, we need to assume that as communication is taking place, channels can be any of the 5 senses or combination.

Decoder : The person who receives the message and decodes it is referred to a decoder.

Receiver: The receiver needs to think all the contents and elements of the source, so as to communicate/responds to sender effectively.;

Berlo’s model believes that for effective communication to take place, the source and the receiver need to be on the same level. Only then communication will happen or take place properly. Hence, the source and the receiver should be similar.

For example, if the communication skill of the source is good, then the receiver should have equally good listening skills.

It cannot be said that the receiver does not receive the whole message because even though he may receive it, but may not be able to interpret its meaning. For effective communication, the source and the receiver need to be on the same level.

Note: Self-image differs from person to person. For communication, the person should consider the receiver, speak accordingly and give them what they need.

Criticism of Berlo’s SMCR model of communication:

  1. There is a lack of feedback. The effects are practically unknown.
  2. It does not mention the barriers to communication.
  3. There is no room for noise.
  4. It is a rather complex model.
  5. It is a linear model of communication.
  6. It requires people to be on the same level for effective communication to happen. However, that rarely happens in everyday life.
  7. The main drawback of the model is that it omits the usage of sixth sense as a channel of communication, which is an asset to human beings (thinking, understanding, analyzing etc.)
{ 169 comments… add one }
  • madhu March 4, 2012, 12:29 am

    i just wanna know what does berlo mean by context in his model?

  • sameen March 25, 2012, 2:32 pm

    helpful indeed!
    saved alot of time while preparing for semester exams!

    just one question if it gets answered, ” i can’t understand how we utilize Smell and Taste for communication?” are these senses for NON PERSONAL communication?

  • ANTHONY BROWN April 10, 2012, 3:50 am

    This model shows how having the skills to deliver your most inner thoughts through communication can be the difference between success and failure.

  • ANTHONY BROWN April 10, 2012, 4:00 am

    somewhat confusing but helpful!

  • Anthony Brown April 11, 2012, 4:39 am

    If you communicate with form of electronic device you must read this

  • Meshack mohammed April 15, 2012, 4:22 am

    Thank you very much for this post, you have just helped me passed my assignment about D.K BERLO four elements of communication.. Plz keep the good work

  • Jona Shilunga April 16, 2012, 11:24 pm

    Thank you !!!

  • muharmmerd harbeebarh April 18, 2012, 1:34 am

    keep the flag on. u re d best

  • tsepang May 14, 2012, 5:05 pm

    thanks. will come back to study more

  • Nomaxala Carol May 14, 2012, 5:05 pm

    Wow.thank you for this information it has been a great help to me as a Student Teacher…

  • carol chelah June 11, 2012, 12:38 pm

    Thanks alot i know understand berlos model of communication clearly.

  • Richard Gitahi June 15, 2012, 3:54 pm

    Nice but which are the main sources?

  • Nash June 29, 2012, 1:59 pm

    now i fully understand the SMCR, thanks!, Godbless u.

  • ROHAN ASKER July 2, 2012, 11:41 pm

    i very much like this ……….carry on

  • betty scurry July 6, 2012, 7:37 pm

    Thanks for this information it helps a lot in my assignment task for this course

  • Prasoon Tiwari August 6, 2012, 10:48 am

    I want to about Wilbur Schramm’s Participatory Model and Model of Franke Doms. Could anybody explain these two models…!

  • makudo elphas August 30, 2012, 9:45 pm

    this have helped me a lot considering the fact that our doesn’t have textbook containing these models ……..thanks a lot may our GOD bless you.

  • jacus October 8, 2012, 2:36 pm

    thxz so more

  • Danhell October 12, 2012, 7:13 pm

    Its actually substancious and reliable in terms of coverage and content. Appreciably org.

  • ANTHONY KIPARA November 17, 2012, 2:28 pm

    Its good keep it up

  • Sir John Mp November 23, 2012, 11:45 pm

    I understood well about what channels should be there to provide a site for communication to take place!,give us more…!

  • Leonard H Jackson November 26, 2012, 12:32 am

    Best site in Business Communications provides exactly the right channels in places needed.

  • Leonard H Jackson November 26, 2012, 12:40 am

    Provides the best communication channels in places needed, right on time , every time. I’m so glad I met you.

  • Abbygail November 26, 2012, 9:26 am

    Exactly why did berli made this SMCR model?

  • LINGUNJE RAJAB December 3, 2012, 1:37 pm

    I accept it, still i have a question; How can one use this model in improvisation of teaching and learning materials in the context of poor East African countries

  • Messanga Albinus December 4, 2012, 8:40 am

    ” communication ,source ,message ,channels,and receiver “

  • victor December 4, 2012, 7:18 pm

    it assume tcha and learner are equal

  • zuberi December 14, 2012, 1:34 pm

    if so how teacher will teach students a new language? apart from that how can you change the negative behavior of the second part if attitude are thing to be considered to be the same? Lastly why even though you may teach people having the same communication skills but still fail?why? the barrier of communication must be there such as field experience and physical noise.

  • florence focus December 16, 2012, 2:31 pm

    too complex model

  • maige muhada December 18, 2012, 1:48 am

    nice work

  • TAULINE January 26, 2013, 8:13 pm

    thanks good lesson

  • Patricia February 15, 2013, 4:03 pm

    Thank you very useful information.

  • Jonnie February 19, 2013, 4:14 am


  • NADUN ALWIS April 2, 2013, 2:17 am

    Some one says the SMCR model is a “non linear”.They makes arguments depending on same features mentioned in S & R. I think its false idea. in berlo’s “model” there is no feed back .(.ONLEY HE MENTIONED ABOUT FEED BACK IN HIS EXPLANATIONS). I think That he wanted to explain the how work communication process in a single situation. i think thats why he did not mentioned about Feed Back in his model, and why it was linear.

  • MONICAH .N. MUTUNGA June 4, 2013, 8:24 pm

    Wow this is cool! at least i have something to write about berlo’s model in my final paper what a help!

  • Daniels June 11, 2013, 2:31 am

    i found this post interesting pls keep it up but i will like you to justify why Berlo’s smcr is more accepted than other models. But a big tnk U for a work well done

  • 0724614552 June 17, 2013, 11:53 pm

    da note are interesting but separate merit and demerit as uv done to lasswell model.

  • maina muturi June 28, 2013, 2:09 pm

    Thats a really nice one!!!

  • william July 23, 2013, 12:43 am

    Yes,something i neaded!what are the strengths of this model?

  • makokha Stephen July 31, 2013, 1:16 pm

    Thanks a lot these explanations have really helped me to understand the models even better. God bless you.

  • munaza September 24, 2013, 10:02 pm

    i could not understand it

  • martin October 9, 2013, 1:18 am

    I understand well i need more of this

  • VICENT OKUMU October 9, 2013, 8:50 pm

    Thanks for the explanations.can’t wait to do ma courswork

  • dumisani machinjirise November 7, 2013, 8:29 pm

    thus gud though having complications

  • Cathy November 13, 2013, 3:29 pm

    This post is great! Who wrote this so I can reference it to my assignment?

  • benie November 15, 2013, 3:30 pm

    Thanx for explanation bt try to elabolate briefly on each of the criticism

  • ashu karen November 19, 2013, 9:38 pm

    pls would one clearly bring out the similarities and differences between harold lasswelland d.k.berlo?dey both ve weaken

  • WYCLIFFE November 20, 2013, 10:05 pm

    its a good explanation

  • Tumaini Kimaryo November 21, 2013, 11:18 pm

    thank all for the good elaboration is chows this people are good in communication. keep it up

  • Hussein Hashimu November 28, 2013, 9:39 am

    the model is so good and applicablicable in real life situation. Presence of weaknesses make us think more about it so as to com with more than that. On top of that, the mode is applicable to all communication and even commucation (teaching) in the classroom situation.

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