Lasswell’s Model

Lasswell’s Model was published in 1948, in his article called The Structure and Function of Communication in Society.  In it, it is possible to appreciate the presence of the behavorist conceptions that dominated the scientific panorama of the time, and which pretended to explain mass behavior as a response to different stimuli.


In addition, the political context that surrounded the interwar period, with the development of the Soviet Union's and Nazi Germany's propaganda apparatus, created a favorable situation to assume, from behavioral principles, certain effects the mass media had, without any empirical enquiry.


We should take note that during this period, two great media consolidated: film and radio. Both quickly became instruments of political propaganda, main concern of the time and of Mass Communication Research throughout its history.


Lasswell’s Model is a descriptive model with the objective of establishing to establish the areas of analysis of communicative acts which could be described by answering five questions: (1) Who says (2) What, in (3) Which Channel, (4) to Whom and with (5) What Effect? (See Chart)


It’s important to remember that Lasswell talks about describing a communicative act unlike the later models which talk about communication’s process.



The importance of this model is undeniable, not only in the Mass Communication Research, but in the investigation of communication worldwide.



Authors / References: Harold Laswell.

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