Erin Smith Image

Erin Smith, PhD

Professor of Psychology
Fletcher Jones Endowed Professor of Research
Director of Research, College of Behavioral and Social Sciences

Office Phone: (951) 552-8626
Office Location: Engineering Bldg, 362
Office Hours: As posted

Degree Major Emphasis Institution Year
PhD Developmental Psychology University of California Riverside 2011
M.A. Developmental Psychology University of California Riverside 2008
B.A. General Psychology Point Loma Nazarene University 2006
  • Courses Taught

    PSY213 General Psychology
    PSY328 Cognitive Psychology

  • Academic Areas & Scholarly Interests

    Science and Religion
    • Cultural and cognitive explanations for the development and differentiation of fantastical, scientific, and religious concepts
    • Relation between scientific knowledge and religious beliefs
    • The contribution and limits of science, especially neuroscience; philosophy of science
    • Psychological and cultural explanations for Christian engagement in science
    • The relationship and underlying processes between religious belief, virtue development, and health

    Church as Social Support
    • The direct and indirect effect of supportive relationships at church on children’s development
    • Qualities and characteristics of churches with high levels of social support
    • Church as a source of resiliency in children’s experience of adverse/traumatic events

    Scholarship on Teaching and Learning
    • Educating for productive science-religion dialogues
    • The development of critical thinking in college
    • Translation of cognitive psychology principles of learning into classrooms

  • Teaching Experience at Institutions Other than CBU

    University of California, Riverside
    Foreign Language School, Zhejiang Province, People's Republic of China
    High School English, Yunnan Province, People's Republic of China

  • Research, Presentations, & Publications

    More information about Dr. Smith's research interests and publications can be found on her website:

    •2019-Present: Science Advisor through AAAS' Science in Seminaries Project, Dialogue on Science, Faith, and Ethics,
    •Participant in the Bridging the Two Cultures of Science and the Humanities 2015-2016 Project, through Scholarship & Christianity in Oxford (SCIO), the UK Centre of the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU), funded by the Templeton Religion Trust.

    Selected Publications:
    •Smith, E. I. (2021). A tale of two perspectives: How psychology and neuroscience contribute to understanding personhood. Manuscript accepted for publication.
    •Smith, E. I. & Crosby, R. G. (2021). The effect of socially supportive church ministry on children’s prosocial behaviour: An experimental study of Latin American Protestant Congregations [Special issue]. Journal for Prevention and Intervention in the Community. Advance online publication.
    •Smith, E. I., Yoon, D. P., Bruininks, P., Witvliet, C. V. O., Cohen, D., Edman, L., Bankard, J., & Johnstone, B. (2021). Relationships between psychometrically distinct Brief Multidimensional Measure of Religiousness/Spirituality (BMMRS) factors and mental health among U.S. college students. Mental Health, Religion, and Culture, 24(2), 211-225.
    •Crosby, R. G., Smith, E. I., LaChausse, R. G., Blanchette, L., & Palardy, G. J. (2021). Practices of supportive church children’s ministries: An exploratory multilevel investigation of Church of the Nazarene congregations in the United States. Review of Religious Research. Advance online publication.
    •Crosby, R. G., Smith, E. I., Gage, J. & Blanchette, L. (2021). Trauma-informed children’s ministry: A qualitative descriptive study. Journal of Child and Adolescent Trauma. Advance online publication.
    •Smith, E. I. (2020). The role of psychology in advancing dialogue between science and Christianity. Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith, 72(4), 204-221.
    •Smith, E. I. (2017). Thinking like a psychological scientist. In R. Biswas-Diener & E. Diener (Eds), Noba textbook series: Psychology. Champaign, IL: DEF publishers. DOI:
    •Smith, E. I., & Crosby, R. G. (2017). Unpacking religious affiliation: Exploring associations between Christian children's religious cultural context, God image, and self-esteem across development [Special Issue: Religion, Culture, and Development] British Journal of Developmental Psychology, 35(1), 76-90. doi: 10.1111/bjdp.12156
    •Crosby, R. G., & Smith, E. I. (2016). Measuring children's church-based social support: Development and initial validation of the Kids' Church Survey. Social Development, 26(2), 423-442. doi: 10.1111/sode.12198
    •Richert, R. A., & Smith, E. I. (2011). Preschoolers' quarantining of fantasy. Child Development, 82, 1106-1119.
    •Richert, R. A., & Robb, M. B., & Smith, E. I. (2011). Media as a social partner: The social nature of young children's learning from screen media. Child Development, 82, 82-95.

  • Church Membership & Activities

    Member of South Hills Church, Corona

  • Interests & Hobbies

    My husband and I have been married since 2005; we have three children (born in 2013, 2015, and 2019) and two cats. (Cat person, here.) I love spending time with my family, adventure traveling (when that's a thing), fitness, reading, and game nights. I'm not presently caught up on the most recent season of My Hero Academia, so no spoilers, please.

  • Personal Philosophy

    “It has again brought home to me quite clearly how wrong it is to use God as a stop-gap for the incompleteness of our knowledge. If in fact the frontiers of knowledge are being pushed back (and that is bound to be the case), then God is being pushed back with them, and is therefore continually in retreat. We are to find God in what we know, not in what we don’t know; God wants us to realize his presence, not in unsolved problems but in those that are solved.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer, 1972, Letters and Papers from Prison, Enlarged Edition. New York: Macmillan.

    “And I will lead the blind in a way they do not know, in paths that they have not known I will guide them. I will turn the darkness before them into light, the rough places into level ground. These are the things I do, and I do not forsake them.” Isaiah 42:16 (ESV)