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Helical Model of Communication

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Frank E.X. Dance or Frank Dance, born in November 9, 1929 in Brooklyn New York. He went to parochial elementary schools, a Jesuit high school (Brooklyn Preparatory), a Jesuit undergraduate school, (Fordham University) and did his M.S. and Ph.D. at Northwestern University. He spent 3 years in the US Army. His Military Occupational Specialty was as a translator (Viatnamese).

Who is the proponent?

Helix¬†‚Äúan object having a three-dimensional shape like that of a wire wound uniformly around a cylinder or cone‚Ä̬†Communication ‚Ȇ¬†=¬†Forever moving forward

So o why choose Helical Helical?

Dance’s model emphasized the difficulties of communication. He developed this theory based on a simple helix which gets bigger and bigger as it moves or grows. The main characteristic of helical model of communication is that it is non-linear, it is evolutionary.


Dance‚Äôs Helical Model¬†‚ÄúAt any and all times, the helix¬†gives geometrical testimony to the¬†concept that communication while¬†moving forward is at the same time¬†coming back upon itself and being¬†affected by its past behavior, for the¬†coming curve of the helix is¬†fundamentally affected by the curve¬†from which it emerges.¬†The helical communication model¬†offers a flexible communication¬†process. ‚ÄĚ
‚Äď Dance (1967)


It illustrates the development of an individual throughout life, as their knowledge base deepens and expands through communication; thus the helical model can be seen as dynamic.

When a child is born, the only means of communication is crying. He/she cries for everything like hunger, pain, cold, etc. As the child grows, the means of communication of the child becomes wider and broader. He learns to make noises then he learns language to obtain attention and to fulfill his needs.



‚ÄúAs a heuristic device, the helix is interesting not so much for what it says as for what it permits to be said. Hence, it exemplifies a point made earlier: It is important to approach models in a spirit of speculation and intellectual play.‚ÄĚ ‚Äď Mortensen

‚ÄúSophisticated Play: the helix implies that communication is continuous, unrepeatable, additive, and accumulative; that is, each phase of activity depends upon present forces at work as they are defined by all that has occurred before. All experience contributes to the shape of the unfolding moment; there is no break in the action, no fixed beginning, no pure redundancy, no closure.‚ÄĚ ‚Äď Chapanis (1961)


‚ÄúIt is not systematic or formalized mode of representation. Neither does it formalize relationships or isolate key variables. It describes in the abstract but does not explicitly explain or make particular hypotheses testable. May not be a model at all: too few variables.‚ÄĚ ‚Äď Mortensen ‚ÄúFor¬†example, along similar lines, how can the idea of continuous, unbroken growth include events we consider meaningless, artificial, or unproductive? Generates questions, but leaves much¬†unanswered.‚ÄĚ ‚Äď Mortensen¬†Weakness

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