Active and Passive Audience Definition, Theory, Example & Difference

Active and Passive Audience Definition, Theory, and Differences. Examples of Active and Passive Audiences.

Active Audiences

Active audiences actively receive media information and make sense of the messages based on their social and personal contexts. They listen to the media messages instead of hearing them. However active audiences receive media information actively, and the act of receiving media information is natural. So, active audiences pay full attention to receiving information and interpret it to give feedback. The most common listening styles are people, content, action, and Time-oriented listening.

Examples of Active Audiences

For example, people are the active audience who comment on social media content to express opinions.

Another example, based on the story shared in the example of the active and passive audience below, Ela is an active audience who scrutinizes the messages before accepting them and always tries to provide feedback.

Characteristics of Active Audiences

Active audiences actively listen carefully to provide feedback, making them complicated and critical thinkers. Additionally, they have good schemata. Feedback is an essential component of interactive communication.

Passive Audiences

Passive audiences are those who watch and observe the media information without making sense. Hence, they are recognized as inactive receivers. Passive audiences have low motivation to process information, low ability to process information and focus on simple cues (e.g., appearances instead of content)

Examples of Passive Audiences

For example, passive audiences dislike commenting on social media content. Audiences like to watch Television and read newspapers without providing opinions. They prefer a linear communication process where feedback is not essential.

Another example, based on the story shared in the example of the active and passive audience below, Bela is a passive audience that accepts the message without challenging them.

Characteristics of Passive Audiences

The Passive audience is inactively involved in hearing something rather than listening. Passive audiences merely observe the message; therefore, they are cognitive misers who are lazy to think.

Examples of Active and Passive Audiences

For example, Ela and Bela are siblings watching the news on television. The news reporter is providing tips on how to stay healthy. Ela actively listens to the news reporter’s tips to follow them. Then, she asks her sister Bela to confirm whether these tips work or not. In contrast, Bela accepts those tips readily. Here, Ela is an active audience who is a critical thinker. Therefore, she carefully focuses on the news presenter’s dress, speaking style, and messages’ meaning.

On the other hand, Bela watches the news without focusing on the content of the message. Here, Bela is a passive audience who is a cognitive miser. Therefore, she does not focus on interpreting the message; she only focuses on the news reporter’s appearance. As a result, she believes the news reporter’s tips quickly and becomes manipulated.

Active and Passive Audience
Difference Between Active and Passive Audience
Difference Between Active and Passive Audiences
Active Audiences
Passive Audiences
Firstly, active audiences interpret and respond to the media texts In contrast, Passive audiences merely observe the media text.
They decode and evaluate the message. On the other hand, they accept the message without evaluating it.
Active audiences form opinions and provide feedback in communication. The passive audiences accept their opinions only.
Active audiences pay full attention to listening to the message. In contrast, passive audiences pay little attention to hearing the message.
For example, Ela scrutinizes messages received from the news reporter rather than accepting them directly. For example, Bela accepts messages received from the news reporter without scrutinizing them.
The message cannot affect the active audience directly. The message affects the passive audience directly.
It is difficult to manipulate an active audience. On the other hand, it is easy to manipulate the passive audience.
Active audiences are critical thinkers. On the other hand, passive audiences are cognitive misers.
They have good schemata. In contrast, passive audiences are too lazy to think.
The active audience is involved in listening, including discriminative and comprehensive listening. However, the passive audience is involved in hearing.

Active and Passive Theories

Active Audience Theories

Active audience theory explains that active media audiences do not just accept media information inactively but interpret the message based on their personal and social contexts.

Active Audience Theory posits that audiences are not passive recipients of media messages but rather actively engage with and interpret media content based on their own experiences, values, and beliefs. This theory challenges the notion of passive audience effects proposed by earlier media theories, such as the Hypodermic Needle Theory, and emphasizes the agency and autonomy of audience members in their interactions with media texts. According to Active Audience Theory, individuals actively select, interpret, and make meaning from media content, drawing upon their personal backgrounds, social contexts, and cultural frameworks. This theory acknowledges the diversity of audience responses to media messages and highlights the importance of audience participation and engagement in shaping the reception and interpretation of media content.

List of Active Audience Theories:
  1. Uses and Gratifications Theory
  2. Reception Theory
  3. Cultural Studies
  4. Active Audiences Theory
  5. Two-Step Flow Theory
  6. Agenda-Setting Theory
  7. Participatory Culture Theory
  8. Media Literacy Theory
  9. Social Learning Theory
  10. Social Cognitive Theory

Uses and gratifications theory shows a strategic approach to explaining how and why people or audiences actively find specific media to meet specific needs. It also represents an audience-centered strategy to perceive the process of mass communication.

The two-step flow of communication model argues that audiences accept media information more if the opinion leaders deliver the message. So, the audience gets influenced by mass media if the opinion leader supports disseminating the information.

Passive Audience Theories

Passive audience theories, also known as media effects theories, propose that audiences are passive recipients of media messages and are highly susceptible to the influence of mass media. These theories suggest that media content has a direct and powerful effect on shaping audience attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors without much active engagement or resistance from the audience.

List of Passive Audience Theories:
  1. Hypodermic Needle Theory (Magic Bullet Theory)
  2. Mass Society Theory
  3. Passive Audience Theory
  4. Limited Effects Theory
  5. Reinforcement Theory
  6. Encoding-Decoding Model
  7. Spiral of Silence Theory
  8. Dependency Theory
  9. Selective Exposure Theory
  10. Cumulative Effects Theory

The Hypodermic Needle Theory, also known as the Magic Bullet Theory or the Hypodermic-Syringe Model, is a communication theory that suggests that media messages are like a powerful drug injected directly into the bloodstream of passive audiences, influencing their thoughts, behaviors, and attitudes. According to this theory, audiences are seen as highly susceptible to media influence, and media messages are believed to have an immediate and direct effect on shaping audience perceptions

Citation For this Article (APA 7th Edition)

Kobiruzzaman, M. M. (2024). Active and Passive Audience Definition, Theory, Differences & Examples. Newsmoor- Educational Website for Online Learning.

Tuckman’s Theory of Communication Stages With Advantages and Disadvantages

Tuckman’s Theory of Communication. Bruce Tuckman’s Five Stages of Group Development are Forming, Storming, Norming, Performing, and Adjourning.  Advantages and Disadvantages of Tuckman Theory PDF.

Tuckman’s Theory of Communication

Tuckman’s theory refers to the five stages of the group development model developed by Bruce Tuckman in 1965. It is also known as Tuckman’s model, Tuckman’s theory, Tuckman’s ladder, five stages of group development theory, Tuckman’s team development model, Tuckman’s theory of communication, and Tuckman’s stages.

Bruce Tuckman introduced his four stages of group development theory in 1965. However, in the 1970s, he added the fifth stage to his four stages of group development theory. In 1977, Tuckman and Mary Ann Jensen included the fifth and final stage in Tuckman’s theory. The name of the fifth stage is Adjourning, which represents the happiness of achieving the interdependent group goal by the group members. So, it became known as Tuckman and Jensen’s theory after adding the fifth stage.

Tuckman’s Stages of Group Development

Tuckman’s five stages of group development are Forming, Storming, Norming, Performing, and Adjourning. It is one of the appropriate theories for explaining the behavior of group members with dynamic characteristics. Additionally, a perfect theory describes how group members adjust and adapt to a group gradually.

Tuckman's Theory of Communication Five Stages. Advantages and Disadvantages of Tuckman's Theory.
Bruce Tuckman’s Theory of Communication

Five Stages of Tuckman’s Theory

The five Stages of Bruce Tuckman’s Theory in Communication are:

  1. Forming Stage
  2. Storming Stage
  3. Norming Stage
  4. Performing Stage
  5. Adjourning Stage.
1. Forming Stage of Tuckman’s Theory: (Orientation)

Forming is the first stage of Tuckman’s theory of communication, also known as the five stages of the group development model. Usually, members carefully explore both personal and group goals in this stage. They feel uncomfortable working with a group of strangers or unfamiliar colleagues trying to understand and test personal relationships. Member also orients itself to itself.

Group Develops in the Forming Stage: 

  • Ice-breaking” stage.
  • Group members are uncertain about their roles.
  • Mutual trust is low.
  • There is a good deal of holding back to see who is in charge.
  • Conflict is beneficial and leads to increased creativity.
Primary Tension

Firstly, group members feel social unease and stiffness accompanying the getting-acquainted stage in a new group. They become overly polite with one another. Additionally, members don’t interrupt one another. They often speak softly and avoid expressing strong opinions, also talk less, and provide little in the way of content.

How to Solve the Tension?

Firstly, the members should be positive and energetic so that other members build positive attitudes toward them. Secondly, smile and Laugh at others when interacting with them. Additionally, nodding in agreement and exhibiting enthusiasm is a useful non-verbal cue to hold effective interactions. Group members should also be patient and open-minded, knowing that the primary tension will decrease with time. Finally, Be prepared and informed before your first meeting to help the group focus on its task.

2. Storming Stage of Tuckman’s Theory: (Power Struggle)

Storming is the second stage of Tuckman’s theory of Group Development. Group members become argumentative also emotional. The most confident members begin to compete for both social acceptance and leadership. Many groups try to skip this stage to avoid competition and conflict is necessary to establish a climate in which members understand the value of disagreeing. The conflicts among group members are also known as noise in communication.

Group Develops in the Storming Stage:
  • Time of testing (Testing leader’s policies and assumptions and how they fit into the power structure).
  • Subgroups take shape
  • Subtle forms of rebellion occur
  • Conflict ⇒ cohesion dialectic.
  • Leadership ⇒ follower ship dialectic.
Secondary Tension in Tuckman’s Model

Firstly, frustrations and personality conflicts are experienced by group members as they compete for acceptance and achievement within a group. Members have gained enough confidence to become assertive and even aggressive as they pursue positions of power and influence. They gain a high level of energy and agitation. The group becomes noisier, more dynamic, and physically active in this stage of group development. Usually, members start to speak in louder voices, interrupting and overlapping one another so that two or three people may be speaking simultaneously. Members sit up straight, lean forward, or squirm in their seats. Finally, everyone is alert and listening intently.

How to Solve the Tension?

Making jokes is very important to avoid tension in the second stage of Tuckman’s theory. They should work outside the group setting to discuss group members’ difficulties and anxieties.

3. Norming Stage of Tuckman’s Theory (Cooperation)

Norming is the third stage of Tuckman’s 5 Stages of Group Development Theory. Members start learning to work as a cohesive team and be task-oriented. They start developing “rules of engagement.” However, they feel more comfortable with one another and are willing to disagree and express opinions – communication becomes open. Finally, a feeling of trust and clear goals emerge inside the group.

Group Develops in the Norming Stage:
  • Group more cohesive.
  • Less conflict with increasing team member interactions and interdependence of work tasks.
4. Performing Stage of Tuckman’s Theory: (Synergy)

Performing is the fourth stage of Tuckman’s 5 Stages of Group Development theory. Members become fully engaged and eager to work at this stage. Members adjust and adapt to the situation and also start solving critical problems. Group identity, loyalty, and morale are generally high in this stage. However, disagreements occur, but members usually resolve them intelligently and amicably. Finally, Interaction patterns reflect virtually no tension; the members are cheerful, loud, boisterous, laughing and verbally backslapping each other”.

Group Develops in the Performing Stage:
  • Activity focused on problem-solving.
  • Work done without hampering others.
  • The climate of open communication and full engagement.
5. Adjourning Stage of Tuckman’s Theory: (Closure)

Adjourning refers to the fifth stage of Tuckman’s 5 Group Development Theory. Members have usually achieved their common goal and may begin to disband. It also represents whether the group members will work together or form a new group. Finally, they are happy with their achievements but feel lost when the group dissolves.

  • Disband = confront relational issues (For example, how to retain friendships with other members).
Group Develops in the Adjourning Stage:
  • Work completed; group moves on to other activities.
  • Opportunity for leaders to emphasize valuable lessons.
Tuckman’s Theory of Communication

Tuckman’s theory of communication has significant theoretical and practical contributions to research. The Five Stages of Tuckman’s Theory of Communication are Forming, Storming, Norming, Performing, and Adjourning. Although in 1965, Tuckman proposed a four-stage group development theory but later added the fifth stage called adjourning. Tuckman’s theory assists group members in subduing the group barriers. It also helps to adjust them in the group gradually.  Therefore, it is known as a group facilitation theory. Tuckman’s group development theory consists of five stages that facilitate group formation and development.

Tuckman identified both the advantages and disadvantages of group communication; therefore, he provided suggestions for reducing the barriers to group communication.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Tuckman’s Theory

The Tuckman model has both theoretical and practical advantages and disadvantages. Many researchers have identified the pros and cons of the Tuckman theory. It is also known as the strengths and limitations of the Tuckman model.

Advantages of Tuckman’s Theory
  1. Framework for Understanding Group Dynamics: Tuckman’s model provides a structured framework for understanding the natural stages of group development. Firstly, Tuckman’s theory clarifies the specific stages of any group and team discussion; for instance, the five stages of group development are forming, storming, norming, performing, and adjourning. Tuckman’s theory helps to understand more about primary and secondary tension generated from group communication. It also recommends reducing the tensions among members and influencing group activities. It is essential to reduce the tension among the group because the tensions are obstacles to achieving the group goal. Additionally, the theory strengthens the relationship among group members and motivates them to be productive. Finally, the Tuckman group developing theory shows the perfect successful way of solving group uncertainty issues and gaining interdependent goals.
  2. Predictive Capability: By recognizing the typical stages of group development outlined in the model, leaders can predict potential challenges and issues that may arise. This predictive capability enables proactive intervention to address conflicts, facilitate communication, and foster cohesion within the group.
  3. Facilitates Team Building: Tuckman’s model emphasizes the importance of communication, trust-building, and goal-setting in group development. It provides guidance for leaders to actively promote team-building activities and create an environment conducive to collaboration and goal achievement.
  4. Enhanced Leadership Effectiveness: Understanding Tuckman’s model allows leaders to adapt their leadership style to the needs of the group at each stage of development. Effective leaders can provide support, direction, and empowerment as necessary, facilitating the group’s progress toward maturity and productivity.
Disadvantages of Tuckman’s Theory
  1. Oversimplification: Critics argue that Tuckman’s model oversimplifies the complexities of group dynamics. Real-world groups may not always linearly progress through the stages, and the model may overlook individual differences, cultural influences, and external factors that can impact group development.
  2. Focus on Conflict: The emphasis on conflict in the Storming stage of Tuckman’s model may reinforce negative stereotypes about group dynamics. While conflict can be a natural part of group development, an overemphasis on conflict may neglect the importance of relationship-building and collaboration in achieving group goals.
  3. Limited Practical Application: In dynamic and rapidly changing environments, Tuckman’s model may have limited practical application. Groups operating in fast-paced settings may not have the luxury of progressing through each stage sequentially and may need to adapt more quickly to changing circumstances.
  4. Neglect of External Influences: Tuckman’s model primarily focuses on internal group dynamics and may neglect external factors such as organizational culture, leadership style, and external pressures. Ignoring these influences may limit the model’s applicability in diverse organizational contexts.

Tuckman’s theory consists of five important stages that are difficult to maintain one by one. Group members need to follow different instructions to maintain effective communication and a good relationship with group members. Additionally, there is no instant solution to solve all conflicts in group communication, although it suggested some recommendations to reduce conflicts. Furthermore, Tuckman’s model did not mention what would have happened if the storming stage did not end. Finally, Tuckman’s model has failed to discuss why the group changes over time. These are the Advantages and Disadvantages of Tuckman’s Theory.

Citation for this Article (APA 7th Edition)
Kobiruzzaman, M. M. (2024). Tuckman Theory of Communication, Advantages, and Disadvantages. Educational Website For Online Learning.
Tuckman 1965 Reference Apa 7th Edition

Tuckman, B. W. (1965). Developmental sequence in small groups. Psychological Bulletin63(6), 384.