Our research focuses on the dark side of human nature. From personality to moral malevolence, we are interested in how people hurt each other across a variety of settings. Our research falls into one of three basic categories:


Our Research 

Basic Research

​(e.g., Dark Personalities, Moral Manipulation and Malevolence)

Our primary interest is in differentiating three commonly studied personality traits with respect to interpersonal harm: The Dark Triad (psychopathy, narcissism, and Machiavellianism). With the inclusion of Sadism, we often study a Dark Tetrad of harmful personalities.

We apply these to long vs. short-term goals, different deception patterns, experimental conditions, offender profiles, and other types of critical outcomes. Further, we have studied overconfidence in a variety of settings, including those related to sacred values and religion. We have found that those who claim to know religious stories that do not exist are most likely to be violent in the name of God.

Applied Research

(e.g., Organizational Behavior, Management, and Business Ethics)

In our applied field, we do a lot with Accounting Professionals to explore earnings manipulation, over-rides, and management. We study dishonesty in book-keeping, and management of public image. We have a lot of research that investigates how dark personalities infiltrate businesses, what they look like, how to avoid them, and what to do if you have a “Dark Triad” type colleague. We are interested in how to understand these aspects of business life to encourage profitability and Corporate Social Responsibility.

Offender Research

(e.g., Deception, Cyber-security, and Violence)

We have developed a theory (Mimicry Deception Theory; Jones, 2014) that argues four components emerge from long-term deception (Complexity, Slow extraction, Community Integration, and low Detectability). We have applied this theoretical framework to study fraud, child sex offenders, and cyber-security. Further, we work with Chris Kiekintveld (UTEP Computer Science) and the Army Research Laboratories (ARL) on issues related to cyber-security and cyber-attacks. Finally, we study motivation in offenders who are re-entering the community to see how best to facilitate their re-integration and bring down recidivism risks.