Psychology in the Military: Dr. Michael D. Matthews ‘75

Dr. Mike Matthews graduated from Drury in 1975 with his bachelor’s degree in psychology and sociology with magna cum laude honors. While he was at Drury he was involved in the national honor society, Phi Eta Sigma. After graduating, Dr. Matthews received his Ph.D. in experimental psychology in 1983. Now he is Professor of Engineering Psychology at the United States Military Academy serving as Deputy Head of the Department of Behavioral Sciences and Leadership. Over the years, Dr. Matthews has published several books about leadership and psychology in the military. His latest book is titled, Head Strong: How Psychology is Revolutionizing War (Oxford University press, 2014).

“This book is about the increasingly important role that psychology will play in helping the military prepare, fight, and recover from wars of the 21st century,” Matthews explains. “It covers selection, training, decision making, resilience, pathology, leadership, cultural issues, and spinoffs of military psychology to the civilian sector.”

When asked what the inspiration for this book was, Mike had this to say, “I felt it filled a gap. There are no other books that have addressed this topic. I also aim to help national strategic leaders – both within the government and in the private sector – understand the role of psychology in war.”

Dr. Matthews plans to continue writing more books in the future, as he has many different ideas. “I am interested in a book on leadership in corporations, lessons learned from military leadership. Also, a book on character strengths and human performance. Something I think about a good deal is a book on holistic well-being, from a positive psychology perspective…The key is to find a topic for which you have a great passion, so that the countless hours spent in front of your computer are actually enjoyable and rewarding.”

Dr. Matthews’s book, Head Strong, is available for purchase on

Written by Sarah Lee ’16