Interactive Model of Communication: Definition & Application

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  • 0:05 Social Interaction
  • 1:07 Defining the Interactive Model
  • 3:20 The Interactive Model…
  • 4:12 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Beth Hendricks

Beth holds a master's degree in integrated marketing communications, and has worked in journalism and marketing throughout her career.

The interactive model of communication relies on a two-way street of conversation and feedback. In this lesson, you'll learn more about this model, how it works and some places where it exists in daily life.

Social Interaction

Zach's flight didn't go as planned. First, he was bumped from his first-class ticket to coach, where he sat in the middle seat between one unruly child and a young mother holding a crying baby. When the flight finally landed, Zach went to retrieve his luggage only to discover it had been misplaced. To make matters worse, he's already gotten a notification from the airline that his return flight is being re-routed, which will make his trip home much longer.

What's a frustrated customer like Zach supposed to do? He doesn't want to sit on hold while waiting for a customer service representative, and the airline counter is closed. Quickly, he writes a short message to the airline and sends it out through Twitter. To his surprise, he receives a response about his bad experience within ten minutes. The airline is apologetic and reaches out to Zach privately to reimburse him for his troubles.

In today's age, social media's interactive nature offers a two-way street for businesses and customers to chat, one example of a concept known as the interactive model of communication.

Defining the Interactive Model

Unlike the one-way, straight-line type of communication in the linear model, the interactive model of communication, also known as the convergence model, is all about give and take. It relies on an exchange of communication from the sender to the receiver and from the receiver to the sender and back again. The interactive model allows for feedback, something that's absent in the linear model.

The interactive model requires several components to be successful:

  • Two sources: The originator of the message and the recipient of the message are both sources. Both parties are able to send and receive messages or feedback from the other.
  • The message: The information being exchanged.
  • Feedback: Takes place after the first message has been received and is returned to the originating source. The presence of feedback is the primary difference between the linear model and the interactive model.
  • Field of experience: The field of experience is all of the knowledge, behaviors, beliefs, situations, psychological factors, etc., that not only impact the content of the message, but also the way it's interpreted.

If this all sounds confusing, let's equate it to an example of something you probably do every day: texting. In text messaging, one person formulates a message and hits 'send' to deliver it to its intended recipient. The 'interactive' portion of the interactive model comes next, when the recipient formulates his or her own reply and sends it back to the first source.

If the interactive model were a shape, it would be illustrated as a circle. It's a continuous loop of messages and feedback between two participants. Open communication between both sides, who act equally as sources of messages, is important in this model. Feedback, in this model, however, can be somewhat delayed as you're waiting for a reply to an email, for example, or a response to an inquiry on a social media feed.

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