Communications Studies 201-University of Calgary

This is an introductory level Communications Studies course. Therefore, the concepts are geared towards someone who never have studied the subject. These are for the entire course and not specifically written for any classes. Following materials are based on wonderful notes provided by Dr. Richard Sutherland and his TAs during Fall 2010 season. If you find any errors, please report here as soon as possible to

Introduction to Communications Studies (COMS 201)

1. What is Communication studies?

It is the study of systemic process in which we interact with and through symbols to create and interpret meanings.

2. What is process?

Process is by definition is a dynamic and ongoing thing. It is always changing as we interact with others and we cannot defined a beginning or an end. Therefore, it is an ongoing process.

3. What are the key concepts related to a communication system?

– The interrelationships between concepts and ideas
– The flow of information in and out of a system
– The homeostasis; equilibrium in which societies creates norms, organizations, values, etc.

4. Who developed symbolic interactionism model and how many premises are there?

George Herbert Mead in 1920s and 1930s at the University of Chicago. It has four premises.

5. What are the premises in symbolic interactionism model?

First: Humans act toward people or things based on the meaning they assign to those people or things.
Second: Meaning arises out of the social interaction that people have with each other.
Third: An individual’s interpretation of symbols is modified by his/her own thought processes.

6. How do other people affect how we view ourselves?

By direct definition, life scripts and attachment styles.

7. How do other people affect how we view ourselves?

By direct definition, life scripts and attachment styles.

8. What is the importance of language as symbolic communication according to Mead?

It allows us to share meaning while it may not always be an accurate reflection of the outside world.

9. What is the the process of “minding” (Mead)?

It is the term used to describe the inner dialogue between I and me.

10. What did Erving Goffman call uncalculated, spontaneous and involuntary communications?

Expressive messages.

11. Shannon and Weaver’s cybernetic model is an example of what type of communication model?

Linear Model

12. What distinctive concept does Shannon & Weaver’s cybernetic model introduce to models of communication?

Noise; added information during the transmission of a message.

13. What is non verbal communication?

When we interact with each other we often express our ideas without using words. For example, in the Western world, looking in someone’s eyes would convey message of confidence. Some academics argue that about 65 to 93% of total meaning of communication is derived from non-verbal means. This type of communication is highly influenced by culture. Therefore, it is difficult to study. In the above example, if you look in to the eyes of and say something in Asia, it is considered as disrespectful. But in the Western societies it is a sign of strength.

14. What are the types of non-verbal communications?

– Kinesics
– Haptics
– Physical appearance
– Olfactics
– Artifacts
– Proxemics
– Environment
– Chronemics
– Paralanuage
– Silence

15. Inflection, tone of voice, volume are all examples of what type of non verbal communication?


16. Who coined the term, “embodied communication”?

Erving Goffman (Sociologist)

17. How is embodied communication different from disembodied communication?

The embodied communication always takes place in person; face to face. It has an immediate feedback in which generally unassisted by technology. The disembodied communication is used top describe interactions that occurs remotely such as radio, telephone, etc communications. They are technologically derived form and if a medium like emails and text messages are utilized, it can be non-immediate type of communication. Because embodied communication includes non-verbal communications, it is the most rich form of information (flow).

18. Life scripts are one of the major ways family members influence our self-concept through communication (Wood).

Yes, it is true.

19. What is anxious/ambivalent attachment style?

It is a type of behavior often displayed by caregivers towards the subject. It is characterized by sometimes loving and attentive or sometimes indifferent or rejection.

20. What type of communication is used (according to Wood), if you were to light candles for your lovers return to Canada from a war?

Environmental factors, which is a form of non verbal communication.

21. According to Goffman the situational aspects of a locale are…

Those aspects of a social situation that pertain directly to the physical co-presence and interaction of the participants.

22. According to Wood, self disclosure is occurs at what stage of a relationship?

In early on in a relationship

23. According to Wood, one of the ways peers influence our self-concept through communication is exploitation.

False, it is usually thru social comparison although there are many other ways.

24. What is Generalized Others in Symbolic Interactionism (according to Wood)?

The collection of rules, roles and attitudes endorsed by society.

25. What are the four epochs?

Tribal Epoch (to 2000 BCE)
Literate Epoch (2000 BCE to 1450 CE)
Print Epoch (1450 CE to 1850 CE)
Electronic Epoch (1850 CE to ?)

26. Who said medium is the message?

Marshall McLuhan

27. Acquiring properties in the same industry within and across a number of markets is known as…

horizontal integration

28. What is controlling as many of the steps in the production and marketing chain of an industry allow companies to generate revenues at every step and to more effectively control supply and demand?

vertical integration

29. Who influenced Burke’s rhetoric?


30. One of the processes in Burke’s rhetoric (aka Dramatism) involves deep understanding of your audience before you take up a role as a speaker. What do you call this?


Standing on the shoulders of giants