Harold Lasswell’s Narrative Model

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January 21st, 2018

Harold Lasswell’s Narrative Model

What is communication? According to G.G.Brown, this means the transfer of facts to 1 person to another, whether or not it elicits confidence. However the information transferred must be understandable to the receiver.” Therefore, so as to communicate, one can utilize the medium as a channel to complete over a piece of information to another person but whether or not the message gets through correctly, it will be entirely up to the individual’s interpretation. On the other hand, Lasswell’s model does not take the audience’s judgment into account. That is one of the many weaknesses of the 64-year-old model. Communication is actually to provide and discover information, persuade the viewers and express our emotions. A model can help create theories and reveal thematic essay outline the relationships between your elements.

Lasswell came up with the model at first to answer five extremely important questions to make sure a smooth communication procedure which includes who(Communicator), what(Communication), which(Channel), whom(Receiver), and what effect(Effect).

Lasswell was motivated by the initial mass communication version that the well-known philosopher, Aristotle initiated and tried to improve the model with the addition of the channel as a moderate to replace ‘occasion’ which was previously proposed by Aristotle. Aristotle primarily emphasized on the function of the crowd in his model and public speaking rather than interpersonal communication. As for the occasion version, Aristotle suggested constructing speech for different types of audiences at unique occasion to get the response that are wanted. The take action of constructing the speech is performed by the speaker. For every public speaking session, the speaker must be fully made by making sure he understands what the audiences’ pursuits are before speaking. What the loudspeaker says should have some kind of an impact to the target audience and make an effort to convince the audience along with his brilliant ideas.

Thus, Lasswell’s unit concentrates more on verbal communication exactly like Aristotle’s model. The version involves a loudspeaker who passes on info to an crowd through the media such as for example radio, television, newspaper, magazines, music and more to efficiently deliver the message.

A model is usually used to explain the process of mass communication. As for Lasswell’s model, it is explained in words and not in diagrams.

Who: Communicator(Control evaluation)

The first aspect of the model is control analysis which involves the communicator to regulate the communications that are being passed. This is often the gatekeeper’s responsibility. In a way, a gatekeeper could be holding too much power because they can tend to hide information that may be important for the public to know but is probably not helpful to their personal cause. Simply what the media want to publish may the public, thus rendering it unfair for the additional party especially during elections where only those who own greater political influence can benefit from. This principle is quite similar to the agenda setting theory. Regardless of how bias the problem may seem, gatekeeping is truly a very necessary device to both the public and media. With crucial details that the mass media has, they would manage to educate the public so they would not come to be ignorant towards their environment and starts to become more aware about the existing worldwide issues.

The media would only broadcast what they believe is newsworthy and interesting to catch the attention of more readers. Therefore, they tend to neglect the audience’s safe practices and rights to all information. Even so, there are still many factors to be put into consideration before deciding about what to publish, the gatekeepers actually go through a whole lot of trouble researching about who owns the newspaper organization, their goals, the effect they would need to face for posting about certain issues, their political commitments and more. The communicators might seem to be irresponsible and selfish with their organization decisions but that is merely just how certain gatekeepers work.

Says what: Message(Content analysis)

The message is the subject of this content analysis. It may be a bit of news about the recent organic disaster in Japan or even gossips about whether or not Britney Spears can be pregnant. Lasswell was particularly concerned about what the mass media’s response towards the message that was portrayed by the mass media. This resulted in the introduction to a new study called content research. Queries of representation were usually asked, it is especially to ensure the ladies, and the blacks had been properly represented on television set or tabloids. Other than that, Lasswell studied the purpose of society in the movies closely for collecting figures purposes. In Lasswell’s research would involve calculating the quantity of occasions of a particular representation and measure the results with an objective measure like an official statistics to obtain accurate results. The formula can even be applied to our daily life and improve our interpersonal skills without having to consciously think an excessive amount of about our messages. From the dresses you don to how you smell, your overall look can tell people a lot about your personality, tastes in music and communications about you. Each one of these analysis would be useful to the media to construct a note accordingly. The media must be careful with this content of the message so that the public wouldn’t normally get offended or angry.

In which channel: Medium(Media analysis)

The third element will be the medium that is also called the media evaluation. In media analysis, there can be more than one channel to spread a message. These channels are researched in press analysis. Lasswell introduced a competent way to study the mass media known as media content analysis(1927). It had been previously introduced to study propaganda but it started being used to study the roles of connection that was becoming a lot more prominent in movies through the 1920s and 1930s. Mass media content analysis then grew to be the primary research method in interpersonal sciences and mass conversation studies with the looks of tv in the 1950s(Barton 2012). It is also used to research about representations of racism, ladies and violence in videos, tv set programmes, newspapers and publications.

To whom: Receiver(Target audience analysis)

As the media’s responsibility can be to construct and affect the audiences, the receiver plays an essential role in Lasswell’s model. The first theory about the press and audiences is named the stimulus-response(SR) that was comes from behaviourism. The visitors are perceived to get fickle-minded, quickly influenced and needs to be secured. The vulnerability photo of the target audience that was created limits their utilization of media and content. This is a result of the communicator and medium’s doing rather than the other method around. Lasswell often focus on the media, their content material and audience and the consequences of the media on the visitors(Nielson, 2004 )

Lasswell considered his audience to get the passive type that does not like to interact with others, and not likely to surrender to the pressure merely to match society.

The second theory is functionalism that was originated from media sociology. Functionalism may be the opposite of the stimulus-response theory as the crowd are believed to be independent and capable of making their own decisions. The audiences here are of mixed way of life and democratic so they happen to be more laid-back about media content and make use of. In functionalism, in order to fulfil their sociological and psychological needs, they use press content. The relationship between your media and the market are closely related as the press impacts the audience’s behaviour. This theory explains how significant the media is to the culture. It brings order, stableness, change, culture and values and many more. Without functionalism, the world would not understand how to behave or speak correctly.

With what effect(Impact analysis)

According to Lasswell, there should be an effect at the conclusion of every communication process. It is because then this will identify on set up communicator was able to change or encourage the audience’s attitude.

The audience’s a reaction to the news would determine how successful the communication method was. The even more believable the source is, the much more likely it’ll influence the audience.

The way the model works

In 1948, Lasswell introduced an interpretation of the mass media on a macro-sociological level. Functionalism in press sociology explains social methods and institutions regarding the needs of contemporary society and individuals. Specializations that keep on certain functions are : 1) The surveillance of the environment; 2) the correlation of the elements of society in responding to the surroundings; 3) the transmission of the social heritage in one generation to the next. The mass media do not simply supply facts and data, they provide information on the best meaning and significance of events. They take action to confer legitimacy to advocacy organizations and leaders of sociable movements, whose success will depend on attaining wide mainstream interest. The media acts as a catalyst to accelerate concerns onto public agenda.

Lasswell theorized that culture and the media were dependant on one another. He said that contemporary society used media as a surveillance software to monitor salient info around their environment. Surveillance of the surroundings may be the collection and distribution of details by the media. This function is conveniently seen on news programs and newspapers. For example, As mass media report illegal actions going in the contemporary society, it awakes the knowing of people. Also, the information can be distributed to everyone in the culture, stimulating equalitarianism. On the other hand, it has side effects. Reporting the international events of particular countries may endanger the political balance of these countries and could even stimulate over-pressure among society.

Lasswell claims that “When the stimuli acquiring and disseminating patterns operate smoothly, the several parts of the animal act in concert in reference to the enviroment (‘feeding’, ‘fleeing’, ‘attacking’)”. Correlation of elements of society refers to the interpretive or analytical actions of the media. It features to interpret issues and present solutions to the public, which solutions eventually impacts the forming of the public’s attitudes. Columns, editorial articles, criticisms and explanations are illustrations. The correlation function differentiates itself from creative titles for essays surveillance function by presenting subjectivity as the Surveillance Function supposedly keeps objectivity. Correlation function acts during editing procedure, deciding ‘what sort of reports to choose’, ‘which reports to grant extra importance’, and ‘where to emphasize’. The medial side effects of this function can be that it could announce news without fairness. The newspapers may exclude important interpersonal problems. This delivers limited interpretation of information and blocks the production of cultural revolution. This likewise drops the individuals’ capability of self-interpreting and self-criticizing.

Transmission of the sociable heritage refers to the power of the media to communicate values, norms, and styles across time and between groups. It’s the function that spreads the normal norms and values among the general public. This action is called socialization, which is helpful for the unification of a region. As citizens are getting touched with common norms and fresh cultural traditions of others, they are able to grow social adaptation abilities. The function is also powerful as an educational application by providing valuable info to the mass, or as a regulation tool by preventing the exposure of data on crime suspects. People who get to foreign countries will get familiar with the brand new culture by this function. Nevertheless, getting only the organized forms of details and the uniformed cultures may reduced cultural variability and human being creativity.

Pros and cons


As for the advantages of the narrative model, it is said to be a very straightforward and basic model to understand that can be applied to many conversation theories. Lasswell was one of the first few who developed the concept and it is still being used up till today.


The model only assumes that there would be an effect towards the end but will not worry about whether the effect is good or terrible. What the audience take into account the message was not taken into account therefore the improvement of the conversation process can be non-existent. Its strengths and weaknesses will be also because of it being truly a linear model. As easy as it looks, it generally does not allow for a two-way communication where the speaker can get an instantaneous feedback. The crowd can lose interest pretty quickly if they must pay attention to the speaker for a long time particularly if the speaker includes a monotone tone of voice and is talking about a boring topic. Those who includes a very short attention span and is not a good listener would deal with that sort of problem.

Other than that, Lasswell didn’t take into account the surroundings where in fact the audience may be facing. For instance, target audience that listens to the air for daily news can face external distractions in the car such as for example thunder, sound of the automobile horn, or the sound from the car engine. They are noises that require to be addressed so as to obtain the accurate statistics of folks who gave a wanted response. Additionally, there are cases of these who may have a neutral stand on current concerns, thus not making an effect. A lot of assumptions are made without verifying the benefits first that the effects obtained is probably not very reliable. Which means model is not very realistic as it does not completely represent the physical truth.

Application in real life

According to Lasswell, there are often three types of communicators in each contemporary society, the primary type are those who are involved in politics like the foreign media and diplomats while those that compare the states’ reactions to the society are named journalists. The last kind of communicator are known as the educators, these are the people that spread information from the more aged generation to the younger generation(Lasswell 1948).

Targeting a group makes it easier for the mass media to specialize through advertising. It saves them time and money to figure what the latest craze is through surveys to be able to maximise their earnings. With the advancement of technology in the present day, there are even more satellite broadcast and Net channels obtainable unlike during Lasswell’s time where there were just a few types of media channels like television and radio. The general public can easily obtain data that may appear limited on television from the web so it is currently harder for the gatekeeper to enforce the agenda setting theory on the public and manipulate the audience’s mind. This is because the band of audiences have grown to be more separated because of their personal preference to the sort of media they want to pay attention to. The killings at the Batman premier in Colorado works extremely well for example for the narrative style. The communicator will be the media, the message will be the information about the quantity of folks who died during the shooting, the medium would be Huffington Post(online newspaper), the receiver will be the public and lastly the effect would be feelings of shock by the persons about the incident.

Lasswell’s narrative model is one of the earliest varieties of communication models plus the simplest. Lasswell’s model may be applied to all types of other varieties of communication, from calls to internet conversations, etc. It acts as the foundation of the advancement of future communication versions. A whole lot of improvements could be made to this model. Firstly, it will look at the way audiences may perceive and interpret the message that is becoming relayed to them, it will also take into account the difference in circumstances that the conversation is taking place, and whether or not the message gets to the receiver at all, why would the viewers want to seek out that particular information? It should also make references to principles like context, “noise” (whether the message is received effectively and clearly and can be completely interpreted by the receiver), purpose and opinions.


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