Taking the “Mis” out of Miscommunication

The question "It is not possible to remove all miscommunication from communication“ is important because it forces a synthesis of the code model of communication, pragmatic theories, and societal psychology. The question asks if it is possible to remove miscommunication from communication. Each of the current models for understanding communication is incomplete, but my joining them together and adding new thories, we can move towards removing all miscommunication from communication. The code model provides a framework for removing miscommunication in when broadcasting a message from point A to point B. Pragmatic theory provides an understanding of speaker intentions. Neither of the two communications theories explain well how a listener processes a message. I therefore draw from societal psychology, cultural evolution, cultural cognition, and heuristic theory to create a third theory- learned response theory, which provides the last part in understanding how to remove miscommunication from communication.

Theoretical Framework

What exactly is miscommunication? I will briefly introduce two theories which organise the analysis. (Luhmann 1990) presents a three mechanisms which make communication improbable and provide a framework for how miscommunication could spring up. This theory ties into the pragmatist work of (Austin 1975) who laid out a tripartite model of communication, breaking down speech acts into three parts. Illocution is the intended significance of the speaker. Locution is the actual speech act. Perlocution is the effect on the listener.

According to Luhmann, communication is improbable in three ways, information/understanding, utterance/broadcasting, and acceptance/success. Communication is improbable in the information/understanding sense insofar as interpretation is dependent on personal memories. Using the Austen framework, this would be a perlocution effect. Communication is improbable in the utterance/broadcasting sense in that the speaker and the listener may have different rules of exchange. Under the Austen framework, this would be a problem in locution. Finally, communication is improbable in the acceptance/success sense because there is no guarantee of the listener taking on the message. Under the Austen framework, this would be a problem of perlocution. I will apply three different theories, the code model, pragmatic theory, and learned response theory to solve the three sources of miscommunication.

Code Model of Communication