Active and Passive Audience Definition, Theory, Differences & Examples

Active and Passive Audience Definition, Theory, Differences & Examples.  Difference between an active and passive audience. Example of Active and Passive Audiences. Finally, what is the Active and Passive Audience Theory?

Definition of Active and Passive Audience

Active audiences

Active audiences are those people who receive media information actively as well as make sense of the messages based on their social and personal contexts. They listen to the media messages rather than hearing them only. However, active audiences receive media information actively but the act of receiving media information is unintentional. So, active audiences pay full attention to receive information and interpret them to give feedback.

Example of Active Audience

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 message before accepting them.

Characteristic of Active audiences

 Actively involved in listening to give an opinion therefore they are a complicated and critical thinker. Additionally, they have good schemata.

Passive Audience

Passive Audiences are those people 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 focuses on simple cues (e.g., appearances instead of content)

Example of Active Audience

For example, People who are active in social media but do not like to comment on social media content.

Another example, based on the story shared in the example of the active and passive audience below, Bela is a passive audience who 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 who are watching the news on television. At the same time, the news reporter is providing tips on how to stay healthy. Ela tries to listen to the news reporter’s tips actively to follow them. She asks her sister Bela to be confirmed that do these tips really work or not? In contrast, Bela accepts those tips easily. Here, Ela is an active audience who is a critical thinker. Therefore, she focuses on the news presenter’s dress, speaking style, as well as the meaning of messages carefully.

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 rather she only focuses on the news reporter’s appearance inactively. She believes the news reporter’s tips easily and becomes manipulated.

Active and Passive Audience

Difference between Active and Passive Audiences
Active Audiences
Passive Audiences
Interpret and respond to the media texts In contrast, merely observe the media text.
Actively involved with decoding message On the other hand, just accept the message without challenging
Forming opinions Accepting opinions
Paying full attention Paying little attention
For example, Ela scrutinizes messages received from the news reporter rather than accepts them directly. For example, Bela accepts messages received from the news reporter without scrutinizing them.
Not directly affected by the message Directly affected by the message
Difficult to manipulate them Easy to manipulate them
Critical thinker Cognitive miser
Have good schemata Lazy to think
Involve in listening Involve in hearing
 Active Audience Theory

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

The active audience theories are the Hypodermic needle model of communication, the Encoding/decoding model of communication, the Uses and gratifications theory, the Two-step flow theory, and so on.

The hypodermic needle model proposes that the targeted and intended information are directly received and completely accepted by the audience or receiver.

The encoding/decoding model of communication represents that media information is created, distributed, and also interpreted through a theoretical approach.

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

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

Communication Elements- 9 Elements of Communication Process

Communication Elements, the 9 Elements of Communication are Context, Sender, Encoder,  Messages, Channel, Decoder, Receiver,  Feedback, and Noise or Barrier. Additionally, Definition and Examples of the 9 Elements or Components of Communication.

Communication Elements

Elements of communication refer to essential tools of communication on which the communication process is conducted. Communication elements initiate and conduct the full process of sharing information between the sender and receiver. Therefore, elements of communication are very important and interconnected parts of the communication process. The 9 elements of communication (Context, Sender, Encoder,  Message, Channel, Decoder, Receiver,  Feedback, and Noise) are necessary tools or components to conduct an effective communication between sender and receiver.

Communication Process

The communication process refers to the way of sharing information verbally or non-verbally between the sender and receiver. Verbal communication means communication through spoken words. Nonverbal communication refers to nonverbal communication cues such as tone of voice, facial expression, movement, eye contact, body language, etc. Communication is the process of conveying the message via written text, speech, signals, visuals, or behavior. It also a process of exchanging opinions and imparting knowledge between speaker and audience through elements of communication.

The 9 Elements of Communication

 The 9 basic elements of the communication process are;

  1. Context
  2. Sender
  3. Encoder
  4. Message
  5. Channel
  6. Decoder
  7. Receiver
  8. Feedback
  9. Noise
Communication elements, 9 elements of communication process are Context, Sender, Receiver, Encoder, Decoder, Channel, Message, Noise, Feedback. 9 elements of communication process with examples. Process of communication. Elements or components of communication process.
Figure 1: The 9 Elements of Communication Process
 Examples of 9 Elements of Communication

Ela was talking to her husband on a smartphone and she requested her husband to deposit $100 for the electricity bill. At the same time, her son was watching a cartoon video on Television with the volume on high. Therefore, her husband could not understand exactly how much needs to pay for the electricity bill. So, she repeated the same words to confirm him. Consequently, her husband asked about the due date of paying the electricity bill, and she replied that today is the last date to pay the electricity bill without penalty. In the meantime, she showed her angry face to her son to reduce TV volume. Instantly, her son reduced the volume.

Based on the example, the context is social context, Ela is the sender and encoder at the same time receiver and decoder. In similar, her husband is also a sender and encoder at the same time receiver and decoder. Turning the thought into the message is the act of encoding. In contrast, transferring the message into thought is the process of decoding. The smartphone is the medium or channel of the communication process. TV volume is the environmental noise that bars the communication process.

1. Communication Element- Context

Firstly, context is the prime element of every communication process. Context represents the environment in which communication happens or takes place. This context may be physical, historical, psychological, social, chronological, or cultural. For example, you feel comfortable sharing your personal information with close friends rather than colleagues. This is an example of a social context that influences communication.

Example of context in communication

For example, Ela is talking to her husband informally, so she feels very comfortable. Therefore, the social-context has been designed from this communication process. The context would be physical-context if they communicate face to face.

2. Communication Element- Sender/ Source

A sender is a person who sends the message to the receiver. The sender is also known as the encoder of the message. The sender is the initiator of the communication process who starts the procedure via sending a message or information. A sender makes and uses symbols (words or graphic or visual aids) to convey the message and produce the required response. A sender is a speaker or writer or a person who convey the information with the intention of sharing opinion, ideas, and message.

Example of Sender in communication

For example, Ela is the sender and encoder who sends messages to communicate with her husband. The sender is the person who sends the message to communicate with others. So, Ela is the sender also an element of the communication process.

3. Communication Element- Encoding

Encoding is the process of transforming abstract opinions and ideas into symbols such as words, pictures, signs, and marks. A symbol might represent or indicate opinions, ideas, and actions. In contrast, decoding is the process of transforming the symbol into opinion or thought. Literally,  encoding is the process of transformation of the subject into symbols. The process of encoding is connected to the sender and receiver. The message of any communication is always abstract and intangible. Transmission of the message requires the use of certain symbols.

Example of encoding in communication

For example, Ela has converted his thought into words to convey the message to her husband that is called encoding. Here, converting the thought into words is the process of encoding. Words are serving as the spoken communication symbol. She called her husband and uttered some words to share an opinion as well as send the message.

4. Communication Element- Message/ Information

The message seems like a key element of any communication process. Any communication might happen to convey the message that is also known as the process of sharing ideas, opinions, thoughts, and information. Always, the sender wants to convey the message to communicate with the receiver. So, senders need to ensure that the main objective of the message is clear and understandable. Messages may convey through verbal and nonverbal cues. Verbal cues are the spoken language of the speaker, for instance, spoken words. On the other hand, nonverbal communication cues are facial expression, eye contact, physical appearance, posture, gesture, etc.

Example of Message in communication

For example, Ela was speaking to convey the message that indicates verbal communication.  She also showed her angry face to her son to reduce the volume of TV that is called non-verbal communication.

5. Communication Element- Channel/ Medium

Channel is the way of transmitting the message. It is also known as a medium in communication that conveys the message from sender to receiver. In the face to face communication, the sender’s senses, for example, hearing, seeing, smelling, touching, and tasting are the channel of transferring the information. On the other hand, organizations use Television, Newspapers, Radio as a channel to disseminate information. People use the computer and mobile phone to communicate with a person who lives far away from the sender. For instance, a small group of people chooses a written medium to convey the message, while people choose an oral medium when spontaneous feedback is required from the recipient as misunderstandings are cleared then and there.

Example of Channel or Medium in communication

For example, Ela has transmitted the message through a smartphone so the smartphone is the channel of the communication process. She uses technology to convey messages therefore it is called mediated communication.

6. Communication Element- Decoding

Decoding is the process of translation of an encoded symbol into the ordinary understandable language in contrast to the encoder. In this process, the receiver converts the symbols into thoughts received from the sender.  Decoding is the opposite process of encoding to get the meaning of the message.

Example of Decoding in communication

For example, Ela has transformed his thought into words to convey the message to her husband that is called encoding. Whereas, her husband converts those words into thought to understand the message that is the process of decoding.

7. Communication Element- Receiver/ Audience

A receiver or decoder is a person for whom the message is targeted in contrast to the sender. Therefore, the receiver is the audience of the communication process. The sender surely sends a message aimed at the receiver. Receivers can be one person or a group of people or a big amount of population. The degree to which the decoder understands the message is dependent upon various factors such as knowledge of the recipient, their responsiveness to the message, and the reliance of the encoder on the decoder.

Example of Receiver in communication

For example, Ela has sent the message targeted at her husband to whom she wants to communicate. Hence, her husband is the receiver in this context of the communication.

8. Communication Element- Feedback / Response

Feedback is one of the main elements of the effective communication process as it allows the sender to analyze the efficacy of the message. It also helps the sender in confirming the correct interpretation of the message by the decoder. Feedback may be verbal (through words) or non-verbal (in the form of smiles, sighs, etc.).  It may take written form also in the form of memos, reports, etc.

Example of Feedback in communication

Feedback differentiates the linear and transitional model of communication. The model of communication is linear if the author does not add feedback to the model, for example, Lasswell’s Model of Communication. On the other hand, the communication model will be identified as interactive and transitional if the feedback is presented, for example, the Osgood-Schramm Model of Communication.

For example, Ela’s husband asked about the due date of paying the electricity bill.

9. Communication Element-Noise/ Barrier

Finally, Noise is a communication barrier or distraction to effective communication. Noise in communication is any type of barrier that obstacles the effectiveness of the communication process. Actually, communication noises exist in all types of the communication process such as noise in face-to-face communication, noise in group communication, noise in mediated communication, etc. Communication will be more effective and interactive if there is no noise. Actually, noise is an unnecessary element in communication that distracts receivers to receive the message.

Example of Noise in communication

For example, Ela’s son was watching a cartoon video on Television with the volume on high when she was talking to her husband. The sound of the cartoon video bars Ela to listen to her husband’s speech so it is an example of a communication barrier or communication noise or communication distraction.

In conclusion, these 9 important elements (context, sender, encoder,  message, channel, decoder, receiver, feedback, and noise) are the essential component of the basic communication process. The communication process might get faulty without any of these elements except noise.

Citation for this Article (APA 7th Edition)

Kobiruzzaman, M. M. (2021, February 3). Communication Elements- 9 Elements of Communication Process. Educational Website For Online Learning.

M M Kobiruzzaman on ResearchGate

Lunenburg, F. C. (2010). Communication: The process, barriers, and improving effectiveness. Schooling1(1), 1-10.