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david washburn
By Appointment

David Washburn

Professor of Psychology


On Faculty Since 2019

Curriculum Vitae

In the Psychology program at Covenant College, you learn about the science of behavior and mind as scholarship, application and worship of the One who already knows--even before we do--what we will think, what we will say, and what we will do (Ps 139). There's never a time in which we remove our lab coat to don our choir robes, or stop thinking like a Christian in order to think like a psychologist.


  • PhD, Psychology, Georgia State University (1991)
  • MA, Psychology, Georgia State University (1987)
  • BA, Psychology, Covenant College (1986)

Interests / Specialization

I am a general experimental psychologist who, for more than 40 years, has studied studied attention, learning, and other aspects of cognitive control in humans (adults and children) and monkeys. This research primarily involves having people or monkeys play computer games that are written to test and measure cognitive competence. I continue to study attention (for example, with an eye tracker to monitor gaze and pupil dilation) and executive functions--including with animals--but am also interested in computer games more generally and the ways they require and promote learning and cognition. A third topic I study at Covenant College is prayer and its role in decision making. When do people pray for divine guidance when making decisions, and how do they perceive that those prayers have been answered? In recent years, I have also conducted research on the history of psychology. Students who are interested in research opportunities in the "Cognition, History and Learning Lab" (CH+LL) should email Dr. Washburn.

Selected Professional Work

  • Washburn, D. A. & Walters, S. (2022). A history of primates studying primates. In B. Schwartz & M. J. Beran (Eds.), Primate Cognitive Studies (pp. 12-28). New York: Cambridge University Press.
  • Pope-Caldwell, S. M. & Washburn, D. A. (2022). Overcoming cognitive set bias requires more than seeing an alternative strategy. Scientific Reports, 12, 2179.
  • Bowden, M., Whitham, W., Beran, M. J., Conway, C. C., & Washburn, D. A. (2021). Nonhuman Primates Learn Adjacent Dependencies but Fail to Learn Nonadjacent Dependencies in a Statistical Learning Signal Detection Task. Learning & Behavior, 50, 242-253.
  • Bond, A., Washburn, D. A., & Offutt, H. M. (2021). Like father, like son: Stereotypical Black facial features in children causing trouble. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 35, 1135-1145.
  • Washburn, D. A., Rudiman, G. G., Salamanca, J. A., & Whitham, W. (2020). History in ten minutes: Two activities for promoting learning about the history of comparative psychology. International Journal of Comparative Psychology, 33,

Get to know your professor

Q. If you could compete in an olympic sport, what would it be and why?
A. Curling! I'm mesmerized by shuffleboard on ice while sweeping with brooms (three things that I don't like separately--but somehow they are magical together)

Q. Favorite movie?
A. Raiders of the Lost Ark (which I saw for the first time in L.A. while on Psych Tour as a rising sophomore at Covenant)

Q. Favorite local restaurant?
A. State of Confusion, Edley's, and Maple Street Biscuits

Q. Favorite food?
A. Charcuterie or appetizers (I like to graze)

Q. What is one thing that instantly makes your day better?
A. Seeing my wife Cathy

Q. If you could teach any other major, what would it be?
A. Math, but only so I could keep teaching statistics

Q. Personal Interests/Hobbies
A. 1. Sports: Covenant teams, Atlanta teams, Chattanooga teams; 2. Cruises; 3. Collecting mold, spores and fungus; 4. Quoting movie lines