Collin D. Barnes

Assistant Professor of Psychology
"My approach to teaching psychology begins with treating the ways of thinking that motivate different kinds of psychological inquiry as the most important discoveries students can make."
— Collin Barnes


B.S., John Brown University, 2003

M.S., University of Oklahoma, 2006

Ph.D., University of Oklahoma, 2010


Michael Polanyi Society

Society for the Teaching of Psychology


Barnes, C.D., Pomerantz, A., & Yashko, L. (2015). Children cover your eyes: Masculine honor and the role of blind patriotism in teaching national allegiance to posterity. Political Psychology.

Barnes, C. D., Brown, R. P., Lenes, J., Bosson, J., & Carvallo, M. (2014). My country, my self: Honor, identity, and aggressive opposition to national threats. Self and Identity, 13, 638-662.

Barnes, C. D., Brown, R. P., & Osterman, L. (2012). Don’t tread on me: Masculine honor ideology in the U.S. and militant responses to terrorism. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 38, 1018-1029.

Barnes, C. D., Brown, R. P., & Tamborski, M. (2011). Living dangerously: Culture of honor, risk-taking, and the non-randomness of fatal ‘accidents.’ Social Psychological and Personality Science, 3, 100-107.

Barnes, C. D., Carvallo, M., Brown, R. P., & Osterman, L. (2010). Forgiveness and the need to belong. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 36, 1148-1160.

Barnes, C. D., Brown, R. P., & Osterman, L. (2009). Protection, payback, or both? Emotional and motivational mechanisms underlying avoidance by victims of transgressions. Motivation and Emotion, 33, 400-411.


My love for psychology, and particularly social psychology, was born from a fascination with the way that abstract notions such as motivation and personality can be quantified in measurement procedures. I was likewise enchanted by the ingenuity of professionals who created controlled laboratory situations that approximated real-world events for the purpose of testing hypotheses. Today, however, my fascination with psychology revolves around questions about the discipline’s philosophical and historical roots and how the aspirations of science are expressed differently by early, influential figures in the field.

In my first visit to Hillsdale, I saw signs of what later inspired the shifts in my professional interests: a genuine concern for understanding the origins of the ideas that animate our lives. I found that the questions that attracted me as a social psychologist were being asked better by philosophers, classicists, and historians, and I saw that their perspectives were richer and more nuanced than any I could offer from my laboratory. I wanted what they had, so I came here.

This place has changed me so much that I am no longer at home in the mainstream, and I find that I have surrendered to the best kind of problem imaginable: one with an expansive root system that promises to supply new and important discoveries for years to come, and not just to me but to the colleagues and students with whom I work. I aim to do psychology differently. Thankfully, Hillsdale is just the place for such an undertaking, and best of all, it is an undertaking I can pursue with students who make the task a supreme joy.

Hillsdale’s psychology department is unique. It certainly teaches the field’s recognized methods, but it also, more importantly, teaches students how to see broadly. The goal is to raise adept theoreticians like those of old, and this is a rare thing for a psychology department to attempt today. I am of the mind that psychology programs at many institutions are skilled at one thing only: training in a kind of vocational technology. Students learn the meaning of operationalizing variables, manipulation and control in experiments, and valid measurement, but they are given little to no glimpse into what the life of intellectuals looks like. In such programs, early psychologists—the genuine intellectuals of the field—are treated superficially or as passé, being outperformed by the latest laboratory evidence.

I believe that the philosopher-scientist model exemplified by these thinkers needs to be recovered. The purpose of higher education is to make the free life of the mind beautiful in students’ eyes so that they willingly surrender everything to keep it alive. Because of this conviction, my approach to teaching psychology begins with treating the ways of thinking that motivate different kinds of psychological inquiry as the most important discoveries students can make. I show how John B. Watson’s desire for strict objectivity compelled him to eschew the mind as only a word and reduce all psychology to behavior. I highlight in the writings of Wolfgang Kohler his insistence that naïve observation is the entry point for psychological investigation and that direct experience can be the object of legitimate scientific study. I underline Carl Jung’s conviction that psychical and societal life are properly understood as manifestations of our ancestors’ shared experiences and that the psyche, as an autonomous reality, cannot be understood as a mere byproduct of biological operations.

The consequences of such ideas for how we see ourselves is enormous. Too enormous to ignore. By considering them openly, my aim is for students to see how every method of inquiry has a particular epistemology as its starting point. Where our questions take us depends on the direction our epistemology is pointing.

If all of this sounds amply philosophical, there is good reason. It is because I want students to appreciate the value of knowing the permeability of disciplinary boundaries and the crucial role of liberal learning in forming this appreciation. By showing students my own labors to liberally educate myself, I hope to inspire them to do the same.

Outside of the College, I spend most of my time with my family talking, playing, traveling, lounging, and being silly. I owned a 1980 Mercedes-Benz diesel (300D) for two years and hope to have another before I die. I enjoy convoluted Euro board games and Nintendo. I like weird fiction and gritty graphic novels, and I almost always have music playing. I like to think of myself as a discriminating listener, so not everything passes muster, but it is fair to say that my love of liberal learning bleeds into a similar affinity for liberal listening.