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Andrew Ledbetter - Texas Christian University. Fort Worth, TX, US

Andrew Ledbetter

Professor & Chair of Communication Studies | Texas Christian University


Andrew Ledbetter investigates how people use communication technology to maintain close ties with friends, family, and romantic partners.



Andrew Ledbetter Publication Andrew Ledbetter Publication



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Howie Giles on Communication Accommodation Theory Mark Orbe on Co-Cultural Theory, Part 1 Mark Orbe on Co-Cultural Theory, Part 2 Intro to FCPs: Ascan Koerner on Family Communication Patterns Theory




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. He is also an avid Taylor Swift fan, and has commented on the connection between her music and communication theory.

Areas of Expertise (8)

Quantitative Research Methods

Psychological Health


Communication Technology

Social Media

Maintaining Relationships

Family Communication

Interpersonal Communication

Accomplishments (4)

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

Education (3)

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

Affiliations (2)

  • National Communication Association
  • Central States Communication Association

Languages (1)

  • English

Media Appearances (5)

Communication Studies (Taylor’s Version)

TCU Bob Schieffer College of Communication  online


To celebrate the release of “1989 (Taylor’s Version),” we spoke with Andrew Ledbetter, Ph.D., professor and chair of the Department of Communication Studies (and self-proclaimed Swiftie), about Taylor Swift and how her work ties in to communication theory. More than a musician, Taylor is an expert communicator whose narrative skills jump off the music sheet and into real life.

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Taylor Swift in Texas

Texas Standard  online


Twitter Spaces Interview

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Tell them how the crowds went wild: Taylor Swift fans in Texas are ready for the Eras Tour

Texas Standard  online


Andrew Ledbetter is also excited to attend a Taylor Swift concert with his loved ones: his wife and two daughters. “To get to go to the tour and get to see that and to celebrate that live with the people I enjoy most in the world, that also appreciate Taylor Swift, too,” he said. “Oh yeah, I’m really excited about it.”

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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.

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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.”

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Articles (4)

Tie strength and media use in friendships across the course of a year: Testing media multiplexity theory’s third proposition

New Media & Society

2023 Although central to media multiplexity theory’s logic, the proposition that tie strength and media multiplexity mutually cause each other has received limited empirical test. This study evaluated this proposition via survey data collected from friends in Spring 2020 and Spring 2021, examining their friendship across the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic. When examining retrospective reports of the relationship pre-pandemic, results supported the claim that media multiplexity predicts tie strength; in contrast, longitudinal results between Spring 2020 and Spring 2021 supported the claim that tie strength predicts media multiplexity. These findings may indicate a need for clearer boundary conditions for the theory, as well as more thorough consideration of the explanatory mechanisms that underlie the link between multiplexity and tie strength.

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Relational Maintenance and Relational Entropy Predict Each Other Over a Year: A Test of the Theory of Relational Entropy in Friendships During COVID-19

Communication Studies

2022 To evaluate the foundational propositions of a nascent theory of relational entropy, this manuscript reports a longitudinal investigation of friendship across the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic. Participants included 165 members of Greek-letter organizations (both current students and alumni), with data collected in Spring 2020 and again in Spring 2021. Results indicated that relationships exhibited greater entropy and less maintenance in Spring 2021 than in Spring 2020, with Spring 2020 maintenance predicting less entropy in Spring 2021. Although the personal impact of the pandemic predicted increased maintenance in Spring 2020, the direction of this effect was reversed a year later. These findings support key propositions of the nascent theory and identify directions for future refinement of it.

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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

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).

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Participatory branding on social media: The affordances of live streaming for creative labor

New Media & Society

2020 Creative workers in the social media industries face the imperative to brand themselves to audiences, corporate sponsors, and potential customers. This study complicates the role of self-branding on social media through the case of real-time creative labor on a social live streaming platform. Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork and in-depth interviews with live creators and viewers, this study suggests that the affordances of social live streaming platforms create a media and relational environment wherein personal branding practices are belabored by both creators and audiences. This phenomenon, which we term participatory branding, redistributes the labor of personal branding on social media and emphasizes the work of audiences in helping to shape the brand of a creative worker. We then advance a typology that maps the terrain of personal branding on social media as it relates to platform affordances, cross-platform promotion, and audience activity in content creation.

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