CCE Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


College of Engineering and Computing


James L. Parrish

Committee Member

Timothy J. Ellis

Committee Member

James A. Smith


attribution theory, cybercriminal, dark triad, deviant behaviors, hackers, social networking sites


This study proposes that individual personality characteristics and behavioral triggering effects come together to motivate online victimization. It draws from psychology’s current understanding of personality traits, attribution theory, and criminological research. This study combines the current computer deviancy and hacker taxonomies with that of the Dark Triad model of personality mapping. Each computer deviant behavior is identified by its distinct dimensions of cyber-criminal behavior (e.g., unethical hacking, cyberbullying, cyberstalking, and identity theft) and analyzed against the Dark Triad personality factors (i.e., narcissism, Machiavellianism, and psychopathy). The goal of this study is to explore whether there are significant relationships among the Dark Triad personality traits and specific cyber-criminal behaviors within social network sites (SNSs).

The study targets offensive security engineers and computer deviants from specific hacker conferences and from websites that discuss or promote computer deviant behavior (e.g., hacking). Additional sampling is taken from a general population of SNS users. Using a snowball sampling method, 235 subjects completed an anonymous, self-report survey that includes items measuring computer deviance, personality traits, and demographics. Results yield that there was no significant relationship between Dark Triad and cyber-criminal behaviors defined in the perceived hypotheses.

The final chapter of the study summarizes the results and discusses the mechanisms potentially underlying the findings. In the context of achieving the latter objective, exploratory analyses are incorporated and partly relied upon. It also includes a discussion concerning the implications of the findings in terms of providing theoretical insights on the Dark Triad traits and cyber-criminal behaviors more generally.