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David Washburn

David Washburn

Professor of Psychology
On faculty since 2019




Curriculum Vitae  



PhD, Georgia State University, 1991
MA, Georgia State University, 1987
BA, Covenant College, 1986


Professional Interests

My research is focused on the effortful, goal-directed (or executive) control of attention, learning and memory, and other cognitive processes, as reflected in the behavior or adults, children, monkeys, and other animals. By manipulating variables like training, response competition, stimulus movement, and mental workload, and by measuring task performance, self-report, and psychophysiology (e.g., eye movements, muscle movements, changes in bloodflow velocity), I attempt to advance basic understanding of (what my collaborators and I have called) operant, respondent, and emergent forms of behavior. For example, I have published research on factors that affect Stroop interference, performance by monkeys and people on tests of metacognition, experience that results in relational rather than associative types of learning, and effects of prayer on attention and decision making. By examining individual and group (including species) differences in these cognitive competencies, my research has also resulted in applied benefits (e.g., selection, training, and assessment applications for industry, educational, and military contexts). The research has attracted funding from federal, private, industrial, and university sources. In recent years, I have also conducted research on the history of psychology, resulting in several professional presentations and publications.



Students who are interested in research opportunities in the "Cognition, History and Learning Lab" (CH+LL) should email Dr. Washburn. Students may also inquire about research opportunities with Dr. Washburn at Georgia State University's Language Research Center, Sonny Carter Life Sciences Laboratory, or the Individual Differences in Executive Attention (IDEA) Lab.


Professional Memberships

  • American Psychological Association (Fellow & Former President, Division 3-Society for Experimental Psychology and Cognitive Science; Fellow & Former President, Division 6-Society for Behavioral Neuroscience and Comparative Psychology; Member, Division 2-Teaching of Psychology and Division 36-Religion and Spirituality)
  • Association for Psychological Science (Fellow)
  • Psychonomic Society (Fellow)
  • Southern Society for Philosophy and Psychology (Honorary Member for Life & Former President)
  • Southeastern Psychological Association (Former President)
  • Society for Computers in Psychology (Former President)
  • Comparative Cognition Society


Selected Publications (from over 100; student authors italicized)

  • Washburn, D. A. (Ed., 2006). Primate Perspectives on Behavior and Cognition. APA Press.
  • Rumbaugh, D. M., & Washburn, D. A. (2003). The Intelligence of Apes and Other Rational Beings. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.
  • Whitham, W. & Washburn, D. A. (2020). Strategy use in probabilistic categorization by rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta) and Capuchin monkeys (Cebus [Sapajus] apella). Journal of Comparative Psychology
  • Burns, A., Sparks, M. & Washburn, D.A. (2020). Skinner Box. . In J. Vonk & T. Shackleford (Eds), Encyclopedia of Animal Cognition. New York: Springer Nature.
  • Subramani, O. S., Parrott, D. J., Latzman, R. D., & Washburn, D. A. (2019). Breaking the link: Distraction from emotional cues reduces the association between trait disinhibition and reactive physical aggression. Aggressive behavior, 45(2), 151-160.
  • Pope, S. M., Fagot, J., Meguerditchian, A., Washburn, D. A., & Hopkins, W. D. (2019). Enhanced Cognitive Flexibility in the Seminomadic Himba. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 50(1), 47-62.
  • Whitham, W., Johnson, J. M., French, K., Beran, M. J., Washburn, D. A. (2018). Does joystick training facilitate relational learning. International Journal of Comparative Psychology, 31, 13.
  • Hoffman, M. L., Beran, M. J., Washburn, D. A. (2018). Rhesus monkeys (Macaca mulatta) remember agency information from past events and integrate this knowledge with spatial and temporal features in working memory. Animal Cognition, 21(1), 137-153.
  • French, K., Beran, M. J., Espy, K. A., Washburn, D. A. (2018). Simians in the Shape School: A comparative investigation of executive attention. Animal Cognition, 46(3), 281-293.
  • Adams, H. A., Kleider-Offutt, H.M., Bell, D., & Washburn, D. A. (2017). The effects of prayer on attention resource allocation and availability. Religion, Brain & Behavior, 7, 117-133.
  • Bramlett-Parker, J., & Washburn, D. A. (2016). Can rhesus monkey learn executive attention? Behavioral Sciences, 6(2), 11.
  • Beran, M. J., Menzel, C. R., Parrish, A. E., Perdue, B. M., Sayers, K., Smith, J. D., & Washburn, D. A. (2016). Primate cognition: Attention, episodic memory, prospective memory, self-control, and metacognition as examples of cognitive control in nonhuman primates. Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews - Cognitive Science. doi: 10.1002/wcs.1397
  • Washburn, D. A. (2016). The Stroop effect at 80: The competition between stimulus control and cognitive control. Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior, 105, 3-13.


Beebe Stroud

"I love learning about how brains work, but I think my favorite thing about psychology at Covenant is the psych commons and the community within the major. Psychology is a pretty small major, so students get to know each other well. Plus, the psych commons has free animal crackers! But in all seriousness, I do love the professors and how they help me understand both the science that I love and my faith."
 - pyschology major Beebe Stroud '22

Liz Daley '23

"I love psychology because I am able to dive into why people work the way they do. My fellow psychology students have similar interests and desires for their futures, often surrounding how to care for people and learning more about the functions of the human mind, which makes for an exciting learning environment."
  - psychology major Liz Daley '23