Human Communication Theory and Research:
Traditions and Models
James C. McCroskey Virginia P. Richmond West Virginia University
The study of human communication has a long and distinguished history. We can safely say that, since humankind first acquired the ability to communicate through verbal and nonverbal symbols and norms, people have "studied" communication. Indeed, one advantage we hold over other animals is the ability to communicate abstractions such as time, place, and space as though each was a concrete object. Thus, since the beginning of our time, we have studied human communication--albeit unscientifically at first, but through more formal systems as we came to better understand both the role of communication in society and its role in daily activity. The importance of the study of human communication is found in its inclusion in educational programs since the first formal schooling systems were developed over 5,000 years ago.
In order to understand how human communication is studied today, it is important to appreciate how we got to where we are now. We will not, however, attempt to provide a complete discussion of the history communication scholarship here. Rather, we will focus on the more important developments and time periods which have impacted on