Ledbetter was exposed to the beginnings of the online communication revolution at an early age, and this led him to study both computer science and communication at Wheaton College, and then to pursue a master's and doctorate in communication studies at the University of Kansas. Throughout his career, his research has focused on how communication technology intersects with relational and psychological well-being. Specific research topics include maintenance of close relationships during COVID, personal branding by social media influencers, attitudes toward communication technology, technology use and management of parent/child privacy, and the association between Facebook use and the mental health of mothers. Ledbetter also co-authors A First Look at Communication Theory, which is the leading communication theory textbook.
Areas of Expertise (8)
Quantitative Research Methods
Outstanding Mentor Award
Master’s Education Division of the National Communication Association
Article of the Year Award
Journal of Family Communication
Early Career Award
Interpersonal Communication Division of the National Communication Association
Outstanding New Teacher Award
Central States Communication Association
The University of Kansas: Ph.D., Communication Studies 2007
The University of Kansas: M.A., Communication Studies 2004
Wheaton College: B.S., Communication; Computer Science 2002
- National Communication Association
- Central States Communication Association
Media Appearances (5)
After Covid-19 Lockdowns, Children Struggle to Rekindle Close Friendships
The Wall Street Journal online
Many parents are finding that their children have emerged from a year and half of lockdowns without the much-needed benefits that come from having close friends Such friendships are crucial, experts say, in helping create a road map for successful adult relationships.
Silicon Valley gets used to its new role as digital saviour as coronavirus leaves millions isolated
The Globe and Mail online
Texas Christian University communications professor Andrew Ledbetter has spent a career studying how people use technology to maintain close relationships. But even he was shocked when a colleague he knew to be a tech skeptic signed up this week for a Facebook account. “I kind of felt like the world was ending when I saw his name pop up as somebody that had sent me a friend request on Facebook,” Prof. Ledbetter said. “In a world where the pandemic didn’t happen, that probably wouldn’t happen.”
Opponent of restructuring employee benefits removed from committee
TCU 360 online
Dr. Andrew Ledbetter, a professor of communication studies, remains on University Compensation Advisory Committee (UCAC); however, he was asked to step down from the working group so that Clark Jones, the Faculty Senate chair, and Chris Hightower, the Staff Assembly chair, could join.
Best Friends Build Shared Memory Networks
The Atlantic online
That makes sense to Andrew Ledbetter, a professor of communication studies at Texas Christian University who has studied friendship. “When we develop transactive memory systems, we're able to communicate better,” he told me in an email. “We're psychologically closer. Our lives are integrated with one another. And that forms a friendship bond that's tough to break.”
How Friendships Change in Adulthood
The Atlantic online
In a longitudinal study that followed pairs of best friends over 19 years, a team led by Andrew Ledbetter, an associate communications-studies professor at Texas Christian University, found that participants had moved an average of 5.8 times during that period. “I think that’s just kind of a part of life in the very mobile and high-level transportation- and communication-technology society that we have,” Ledbetter says. “We don’t think about how that’s damaging the social fabric of our lives.”
Extending the personal branding affordances typology to parasocial interaction with public figures on social media: Social presence and media multiplexity as mediators☆Computers in Human Behavior
Andrew Ledbetter, Colten Meisnerb
2021 The extent of a social media public figure's success often rests on their ability to establish a personal connection with audiences. Drawing from decades of prior research on parasocial interaction and a typology of personal branding affordances developed in our prior work, this study examined the extent to which a platform's perceived affordances might predict such parasocial interaction. Results supported this association and identified social presence and media multiplexity as independent mediators of it, consistent with prior work in interpersonal communication and technology research. Moreover, the pattern of findings validated audience involvement and locus of promotion as key dimensions delineating the personal branding affordances typology, with multiplatform participatory affordances fostering the most intimate perception of public figures by audiences (i.e., with heightened social presence, media multiplexity, and parasocial interaction).
Parent-Child Privacy Boundary Conflict Patterns During the First Year of College: Mediating Family Communication Patterns, Predicting Psychosocial DistressHuman Communication Research
2019 Drawing from communication privacy management theory and family communication patterns theory, this study investigated the extent to which parental privacy invasions and children’s privacy defenses mediated the association between the family communication environment and psychosocial distress. This paper argues that invasions and defenses together form a conceptual space that forms four boundary conflict patterns: (a) combative (frequent invasions and defenses), (b) guarded (infrequent invasions, frequent defenses), (c) surrendered (frequent invasions, infrequent defenses), and (d) trusting (infrequent invasions and defenses). Data were collected from separate samples of first-year students, drawn at three phases from the same university. Results provided evidence of mediation and suggested that children in surrendered parent-child relationships were most likely to also report enhanced psychosocial distress, with such associations strengthening during the first year of college.
Investigating the Interplay Between Identity Gaps and Communication Patterns in Predicting Relational Intentions in Families in the United StatesJournal of Communication
Kaitlin Phillips, Andrew Ledbetter, Jordan Soliz, Gretchen Bergquist
2018 We tested the degree to which identity gaps mediate the association between family communication patterns and relational intentions. Participants included 498 emerging adults from the United States. Both personal-enacted and relational-communal identity gaps mediated the relationship between conversation and conformity orientation and relational intentions. Moreover, family identification (the extent to which one feels a sense of connection with their family group) moderated the mediation effect, altering the relationship between the personal-enacted and relational-communal identity gaps and relational intentions. Such that, when family identification is low it does not buffer the negative effect of the relational-communal gap, and when it is high, it exacerbates the negative effect of the personal-enacted identity gap on relational intentions. Specifically, the direction of moderating effect of family identification was in opposite directions for these two identity gaps. The only direct effect was a curvilinear relationship between conformity and relational intentions.
Initial Specification and Empirical Test of Media Enjoyment TheoryCommunication Research
Samuel Hardman Taylor, Andrew M. Ledbetter, Joseph P. Mazer
2017 Building upon online communication attitude research, this article explains why people use certain media in their social relationships by offering an initial formulation and test of media enjoyment theory (MET). We investigated whether medium enjoyment mediated the effects of social influence and communication competence on media use. We proposed that perceived miscommunication would moderate the mediating effect of medium enjoyment. Results were consistent with MET across voice phone calls, email, text messaging, and Facebook. The results indicate an indirect effect of social influence and communication competence on media use through the mediator of medium enjoyment. The pattern of mediation was strongest when participants held low levels of perceived miscommunication. These results suggest that people are most likely to use media when they perceive high levels of enjoyment from medium and low levels of perceived miscommunication. Theoretical implications highlight how MET can be developed in multimodal and dyadic contexts.
Extending media multiplexity theory to the extended family: Communication satisfaction and tie strength as moderators of violations of media use expectationsNew Media & Society
Samuel Hardman Taylor, Andrew M. Ledbetter
2016 Guided by media multiplexity theory (MMT), this article reports results of an experimental study examining how participants say they would respond to hypothetical changes in media use (i.e. increasing or decreasing use frequency) by an extended family member. After contending that MMT addresses both media use patterns and expectations, we employed expectancy violations theory (EVT) to consider the extent to which communication satisfaction (CS) and tie strength moderate evaluations of media use violations. Results supported MMT’s prediction that tie strength would moderate the extent to which the violation was perceived as important, whereas, following EVT, CS with the relative moderated perception of the violation’s valence. Beyond highlighting possible outcomes of media use violations, these results commend the nature of the relationship as a motivating force for media selection in interpersonal contexts.
Having Fun on Facebook?: Mothers’ Enjoyment as a Moderator of Mental Health and Facebook UseHealth Communication
Renee Kaufmann, Marjorie M. Buckner & Andrew M. Ledbetter
2016 This study reports results of a study that examined the extent to which contextual factors (i.e., income level and number of children) might predict a mother’s mental health quality, which, in turn, may predict level of engagement with Facebook. Results supported this model, finding that mothers with more children and lower income possess lower mental health quality, and lower mental health quality predicted more frequent Facebook use. However, this pattern was qualified by a mother’s level of enjoyment of Facebook, such that mental health quality did not significantly predict Facebook intensity when enjoyment of Facebook was low. This research extends practitioners’ knowledge of mothers’ mental health quality by identifying a behavior that may indicate lower mental health quality and enhance abilities to recognize mothers who may need support or treatment. Future directions for this research are included.