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Faculty, Graduate Director



Dr. Withers studies connections between the self and others, especially the emotional connections between people and the behaviors that threaten those connections. She examines the “dark” or aversive side of interpersonal relationships, including embarrassment, communication apprehension, and aversive online behavior. Her research concerning online social support focuses on the ways that people use self-disclosure and confirming online messages to build virtual community, identity, and manage social stigma (addiction, incarceration of a loved one). In addition, she studies virtual teams and the personal and interpersonal factors that affect team collaboration in virtual environments. Dr. Withers and her co-authors received the 2005 B. Aubrey Fisher Outstanding Article Award from the Western States Communication Association for their article, “AA online: The enactment of computer mediated social support.” She's been interviewed about online anger and sharing secrets by and about obscene gestures by National Public Radio.

Hinck, A. S., Withers, L. A., Hinck, S. S., & Lee, R-L. (2022). Post-incarcerated individuals’ online narratives: Stories of desistance and “success.” Communication Quarterly

Withers, L. A. (2020). Nonverbal communication. In B. Ribarksy & J. J. Eckstein (Eds.), Activate your superpower: Creating compelling communication (pp. 173-195). Kendall Hunt.

Leonard, L. G., & Withers, L. A. (2019). Place and discourse in virtual environments.  Electronic Journal of Communication, 29 (Special Issue: Digital interactions in social spaces: Proxemics, digital media, and human-machine communication, J. A. McArthur, Ed.).

Hinck, A., Hinck, S. S., Smith, J. S., & Withers, L. A. (2019). Connecting and coping with stigmatized others: Examining social support messages in Prison Talk Online.  Communication Studies 70(5), 582-600.

Sherblom, J. C., Withers, L. A., Leonard, L. G., & Smith, J. S. (2018). Modeling Second Life team communication: The mediating effects of presence, identity, and trust on interactivity, openness, and satisfaction. In K. Lakkaraju & G. Sukthankar (Eds.), Social interaction in virtual worlds (pp. 103-129). Cambridge University Press.

Withers, L. A. (2016). Embarrassment. In V. Zeigler-Hill & T. K. Shackelford (Eds.), Encyclopedia of Personality and Individual Differences (pp. 1-3). Springer.

VanLear, C. A., & Withers, L. A. (2016). The Relational Linking System and other systems for studying self-presentation (self-disclosure), acceptance-rejection, and confirmation-disconfirmation. In C. A. VanLear & D. J. Canary (Eds.), Researching interactive communication behavior: A sourcebook of methods and measures (pp. 77-92). Sage.

Leonard, L. G., Sherblom, J. C., Withers, L. A., & Smith, J. S. (2015). Training effective virtual teams: Presence, identity, communication openness, and conversational interactivity. Connexions, 3 (1), 11-46.

BA: 1995, University of Maine 
MA: 1997, University of Maine
PhD: 2002, University of Connecticut
• Embarrassment
• Virtual Team Collaboration
• Online Social Support and Stigma
• Virtual Community

Courses Taught

• Dark Side of Communication
• Interpersonal Communication
• Nonverbal Communication
• Communication Facilitation
• Gender Communication 
• Intro to Communication in Virtual Worlds