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Welcome and thank you for your interest in our research group! We study the personality and social forces that drive the dark side of human nature. Through basic and applied research we study who harms others, who gets harmed, and how to stop it. 


Differentiating Dark Personalities: The Dark Triad and Dark Tetrad

The Dark Triad refers to three overlapping but distinct personality traits: psychopathy, narcissism, and Machiavellianism. The addition of everyday sadism creates the Dark Tetrad 

Key Findings:

  • To date, we have found that Machiavellianism is the most misunderstood trait.

  • These misunderstandings stem from the strategic nature of Machiavellianism. 

  • They adapt to their environment to maximize their personal gain. 

Deception:  Mimicry Deception Theory (MDT)

Mimicry Deception Theory (MDT) posits that there are four elements of long-term deception: Increased complexity, increased host or community integration, sustainable resource extraction, low detectability. 

Key Findings: 

  • Long-term deception as defined by MDT predicts increased financial losses in fraud cases.

  • Long-term deceivers maintain secrecy more effectively.

  • Long-term deceivers "hack" systems in a more stealthy manner.

  • The patterns observed in MDT can be used to profile child sex offenders. 


Emophilia is the tendency to fall in love fast, easily, and often. For example, have you ever known someone who falls in love after a first date? Or, do you tend to feel emotional connections with partners right away?

Key Findings:

  • Those high in emophilia have a lower threshold for falling in love.

  • Those high in emophilia are disproportionately drawn to manipulative partners. 

  • Emophilia is associated with a high risk of infidelity

  • Emophilia can lead to sexual risk-taking among women.



Along with our collaborators, we study  cyberattacker personality and tactics. We also study solutions to preventing phishing attacks from being effective.

Key Findings:

  • Dark Triad traits are associated with different patterns of cyberattacks. 

  • Those lacking either intellectual humility or confidence struggle with identifying phishing emails.

  • Psychological "inoculation" is a key solution to preventing phishing attacks.

Organizational Behavior

Our research on organizational behavior examines topics such as destructive supervision and toxic employee behavior. 

Key Findings:

  • Machiavellian individuals perform best under destructive leaders. 

  • Premediated betrayal in organizations is common to the Dark Triad.

  • Learning to think like a Machiavellian may be the solution for dealing with them.  

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