Matthew Heller, Ph.D.

Professor: Matthew Heller, Ph.D.

Hello! I joined the psychology faculty at APU in 2016. I am a Social psychologist by training with interests in the psychology of religion and close interpersonal relationships. I am always looking for motivated, curious, organized students to join my research lab. Priority is given to graduate students and undergraduates with some prior research training or experience (including completion of PSYC 362) and who anticipate applying to graduate programs following graduation, but I have not had to turn anyone away thus far. You can expect to gain experience in the entire scope of the research process, including searching and reading background research, data collection and analysis, writing and presentation.

Thanks for taking the time to read through this page. If you have more questions about this page, my work, and working with me, please feel free to contact me at or drop by my office in Wynn 107A.

Research Interests & Questions

My research interests include several themes under the umbrella of Social Psychology including psychology of religion and close interpersonal relationships. If the following questions sound interesting to you, you may be a good fit:

  • How do spiritual disciplines lead to spiritual growth?

  • In what ways can spiritual growth be meaningfully measured using psychological tools?

  • How can moral/ethical thinking be measured?

  • What impact does religious faith and membership have on behavior?

  • In what ways does religious belief impact a person’s interpersonal relationships?

Current Projects

I anticipate active work on the following areas in the coming year:

Project #1: Spiritual Growth and the Fruit of the Spirit

  • This project will examine specific ways in which spiritual growth can be observed and measured, as well as which spiritual practices foster Christian virtues such as the Fruit of the Spirit. We are currently collecting data for the second of a five year longitudinal study.

Project #2: Development of an Ethical Thinking Measurement Tool

  • This is a collaboration with several other researchers across the U.S. designing a survey-type instrument to measure ethical thinking. The broader interest is whether Christians are consistent in applying a biblical worldview when it comes to lay theories of ethics.

Project #3: Spirituality and Generosity

  • This is a collaboration with Dr. Curtis Lehmann examining the extent to which Christian faith influences charitable giving.

Although I am not currently engaged in a specific project on close interpersonal relationships, it is an ongoing interest of mine, and I am happy to discuss ideas for research on this topic.