Benjamin E. Custer, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor at the American University in Bulgaria

Benjamin E. Custer (PhD, University of Arizona, 2020) is an Assistant Professor of Psychology at the American University in Bulgaria. Before this position, he lived and worked in Bulgaria as a two-time Fulbright grantee (2021-2022, 2022-2023). In 2019, he won UArizona’s Department of Communication Excellence in Teaching Award and Kory Floyd Graduate Fellowship in Interpersonal Relations. He is also the recipient of a Top Four Paper Award (2020) from the National Communication Association’s Interpersonal Communication Division and a Top Debut Paper Award (2018) from the Western States Communication Association’s Media Studies Interest Group.

Research Interests

  • Interpersonal communication
  • Mass communication
  • Social psychology
  • Evolutionary psychology

Dissertation Title

Bad boys, bad boys, who’s gotta thing for you?: Examining the sexual appeal of the bad boy archetype

Selected Publications

Floyd, K., Woo, N. T., Custer, B. E., Dinsmore, D. R., Duncan, K., & Maré, J. (2022). Examining the social signaling and person perception functions of loneliness, OBM Neurobiology, 6(2), 119.

Hesse, C., Floyd, K., Rains, S. R., Mikkelson, A. C., Pauley, P. M., Woo, N. T., Custer, B. E., & Duncan, K. (2021). Affectionate communication and health: A meta-analysis. Communication Monographs, 88(2) 194-218.

Lapierre, M. A., & Custer, B. E. (2021). Testing relationships between smartphone engagement, romantic partner communication, and relationship satisfaction. Mobile Media & Communication, 9(2), 155-176.

Floyd, K., & Custer, B. E. (2020). Affection exchange theory. In J. Nussbaum (Ed.), Oxford research encyclopedia of communication. Oxford University Press.

Floyd, K., Woo, N. T., & Custer, B. E. (2020). The biology of affectionate communication. In K. Floyd, & R. Weber (Eds.), The handbook of communication science and biology (pp. 308-318). Routledge.

Floyd, K., Matheny, R., Dinsmore, D. R., Custer, B. E., & Woo, N. T. (2019). “If you disagree, unfriend me now”: Exploring the phenomenon of invited unfriending. American Journal of Applied Psychology, 7(1), 20-29.

Lapierre, M. A., Zhao, P., & Custer, B. E. (2019). Short-term longitudinal relationships between smartphone use/dependency and psychological well-being among late adolescents. Journal of Adolescent Health, 65(5), 607-612.

Custer, B. (2014). STEM from the humanities: How visual arts, empathy and storytelling fuel innovation. Peninsula Press, A Project of the Stanford Graduate Program in Journalism. Later featured on SFGate.


  • PhD (2020) Communication, University of Arizona
  • M.A. (2014) Communication, Stanford University
  • B.S. (2011) Mass Communications, Texas A&M University-Texarkana