Chapter 21. One-Way, Two-Way: A Communication Experiment

Adapted from H.J. Leavitt


  • To conceptualize the superior functioning of two-way communication through participatory demonstration.

  • To examine the application of communication in family, social, and occupational settings.

Group Size


Time Required

Approximately forty-five minutes.


  • Newsprint and felt-tipped marker.

  • Two sheets of paper and a pencil for each participant.

  • A reproduction of Diagram I and Diagram II for the demonstrator.

This activity is adapted from H. J. Leavitt, Managerial Psychology (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1958), pp. 118-128.

Physical Setting

Participants should be seated facing the demonstrator, but in such a way that it will be difficult, if not impossible, to see one another's drawings.


  1. The facilitator may wish to begin with a discussion about ways of looking at communication in terms of content, direction, networks, or interference.

  2. The facilitator explains that the group will experiment with the directional aspects of communication by participating in the following activity:

    • The facilitator selects a demonstrator and one or two observers. The remaining participants each are supplied with a pencil and two sheets of paper. They are instructed to label one sheet Diagram I and the other Diagram II.

    • The facilitator tells the group that the demonstrator will give them directions for drawing a series of squares. Participants are instructed to draw the squares exactly as the demonstrator ...

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