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Dr Deborah Custance BSc PhD

Staff details

PositionLecturer
Department Psychology
Email d.custance (@gold.ac.uk)
Phone+44 (0)20 7919 7897
Dr Deborah Custance BSc PhD

Summary of research

Developmental-comparative psychology with special emphasis on social evolution of culture in humans and animals and the dog-human bond.

Academic qualifications

BSc PhD

Research Interests

My main research area is 'comparative-developmental psychology' which involves the study of human and non-human primate behaviour based on frameworks drawn from developmental and evolutionary psychology. I am particularly interested in Social Intelligence and much of my research to date has focused on complex forms of social learning such as imitation. Before coming to Goldsmiths I conducted experiments on the imitation of arbitrary gestures by young chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes). Also in collaboration with a number of colleagues, I designed an 'artificial fruit' processing task which has, so far, been presented to human children and adults (Homo sapiens), chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes), gorillas (Gorilla gorilla),  orang-utans (Pongo pygmaeus), pig-tailed macaques (Macaca nemestrina), laboratory-raised and hand-raised tufted capuchin monkeys (Cebus apella), common marmosets (Callithrix jacchus), and even the giant New Zealand parrot, the kea (Nestor notables).

More recently, I have conducted research in Zoo Atlanta on program-level imitation in orang-utans. I was also funded by The British Academy to visit Berenty Reserve in Madagascar for three months to study the effect of social dynamics on social transmission in wild ring-tailed lemurs.

In a relatively new research area for me, I have embarked upon an ESRC funded research project on object-directed imitation in children with autism.

Finally, I have pursued a quite different line of research on the dog-human bond. Along with a group of Italian colleagues and my postgraduate student, Robyn Palmer, we used Ainsworth’s strange situation procedure to investigate whether the dog-human bond is consistent with infantile attachment.

Publications

Book Section

Studies of imitation in chimpanzees and children
Whiten, Andrew and Custance, Deborah M.. 1996. Studies of imitation in chimpanzees and children. In: Cecilia M. Heyes and Bennett G. Galef, eds. Social learning in animals. The roots of culture. San Diego, USA: Academic Press, pp. 291-318. ISBN 0122739655

Article

Do Children With Autism Re-Enact Object Movements Rather Than Imitate Demonstrator Actions?
Custance, Deborah M.; Mayer, Jennifer L.; Kumar, Emmelianna; Hill, Elisabeth L. and Heaton, Pam F.. 2013. Do Children With Autism Re-Enact Object Movements Rather Than Imitate Demonstrator Actions? Autism Research, 7(1), pp. 28-39. ISSN 1939-3792

Empathic-like responding by domestic dogs (Canis familiaris) to distress in humans: An exploratory study
Custance, Deborah M. and Mayer, Jennifer. 2012. Empathic-like responding by domestic dogs (Canis familiaris) to distress in humans: An exploratory study. Animal Cognition, 15(5), pp. 851-859. ISSN 1435-9448

A Cross-Cultural Investigation of Men’s Judgments of Female Body Weight in Britain and Indonesia
Custance, Deborah M.; Swami, Viren; Henderson, Grant and Tovée, Martin J.. 2011. A Cross-Cultural Investigation of Men’s Judgments of Female Body Weight in Britain and Indonesia. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 42(1), pp. 140-145. ISSN 0022-0221

Evidence for social learning in wild lemurs (Lemur catta)
Custance, Deborah M.; Kendal, Rachel L.; Kendal, Jeremy R.; Vale, Gillian; Stoinski, Tara S.; Rakotomalala, Nirina Lalaina and Rasamimanana, Hantanirina. 2010. Evidence for social learning in wild lemurs (Lemur catta). Learning & Behavior, 38(3), pp. 220-234. ISSN 1543-4494

A counterbalanced version of Ainsworth's Strange Situation Procedure reveals secure-base effects in dog-human relationships
Custance, Deborah M. and Palmer, Robyn. 2008. A counterbalanced version of Ainsworth's Strange Situation Procedure reveals secure-base effects in dog-human relationships. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 109(2-4), pp. 306-319. ISSN 0168-1591

Social Learning in Pig-Tailed Macaques (Macaca nemestrina) and Adult Humans (Homo sapiens) on a Two-Action Artificial Fruit.
Custance, Deborah M.; Prato Previde, E.; Spiezio, C. and Rigamonti, M.. 2006. Social Learning in Pig-Tailed Macaques (Macaca nemestrina) and Adult Humans (Homo sapiens) on a Two-Action Artificial Fruit. Journal of Comparative Psychology, 120(3), pp. 303-313. ISSN 07357036

Testing for localized stimulus enhancement and object movement re-enactment in pig-tailed macaques (Macaca nemestrina) and young children (Homo sapiens)
Custance, Deborah M.; Prato Previde, E. and Spiezio, C.. 2005. Testing for localized stimulus enhancement and object movement re-enactment in pig-tailed macaques (Macaca nemestrina) and young children (Homo sapiens). Journal of Comparative Psychology, 119(3), pp. 257-272. ISSN 07357036

Social learning and primate reintroduction
Custance, Deborah M.; Whiten, A. and Fredman, T.. 2002. Social learning and primate reintroduction. International Journal of Primatology, 23(3), pp. 479-499. ISSN 01640291

Testing for social learning in the artificial fruit processing of wildborn orangutans (Pongo pygmaeus), Tanjung Puting, Indonesia
Custance, Deborah M.; Whiten, A.; Sambrook, T. and Galdikas, B.. 2001. Testing for social learning in the artificial fruit processing of wildborn orangutans (Pongo pygmaeus), Tanjung Puting, Indonesia. Animal Cognition, 4(3-4), pp. 305-313. ISSN 14359448

Social learning of an artificial fruit task in capuchin monkeys (Cebus apella).
Custance, Deborah M.; Whiten, Andrew and Fredman, Tamar. 1999. Social learning of an artificial fruit task in capuchin monkeys (Cebus apella). Journal of Comparative Psychology, 113(1), pp. 13-23. ISSN 0735-7036

Imitative learning of artificial fruit processing in children (Homo sapiens) and chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes).
Whiten, Andrew; Custance, Deborah M.; Gomez, Juan-Carlos; Teixidor, Patricia and Bard, Kim. 1996. Imitative learning of artificial fruit processing in children (Homo sapiens) and chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes). Journal of Comparative Psychology, 110(1), pp. 3-14. ISSN 0735-7036

Can young chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) imitate arbitrary actions? Hayes & Hayes (1952) revisited
Custance, Deborah M.; Whiten, Andrew and Bard, Kim. 1995. Can young chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) imitate arbitrary actions? Hayes & Hayes (1952) revisited. Behaviour, 132(11/12), 837 -859 . ISSN 0005-7959