Ph.D., Texas A&M University (1996)

Area: Clinical


The doctoral program in clinical psychology at TAMU does not offer specific research and training tracks but there are various emphasis areas that graduate students can pursue, including forensic psychology. In addition to the forensic research conducted in Dr. Edens' lab (described below), several other faculty have research interests relevant to the legal system, such as interests in personality and externalizing behavior problems (Morey, Balsis, Donnellan), malingering and response distortion (Morey), and adult and adolescent substance use (Morey, Fields). Practicum training at TAMU may involve the opportunity to provide clinical services in local jail and probation settings and (occasionally) juvenile justice settings. Graduate students also conduct mental health evaluations of public safety job applicants (e.g., police, jail staff) through our in-house Psychology Clinic. Elective coursework on forensic psychology is offered at the graduate level and students frequently have the opportunity to teach undergraduate courses on psychology and law. Outside the Psychology Department, numerous other TAMU faculty have interests in a broad range of (non-psychology) forensic topics, including entomology, DNA/genetics, pathobiology, and paleopathology.


  • Forensic Psychology
  • Personality Assessment
  • Psychopathy and Antisocial Conduct
  • Risk Assessment

My research interests broadly span the interaction between psychology and the legal system (which is sometimes referred to as forensic psychology). Mostly this research addresses the utility of psychological data (e.g., tests, evaluation procedures) to answer or inform important mental health and legal questions within the criminal justice system (e.g., violence risk assessment, adjudicative competence, personality assessment within correctional settings), although I am also interested in various civil law issues such as child custody and adoption. My research also focuses on the development and improvement of psychological assessment techniques and instruments, particularly those focusing on personality measurement in forensic and correctional settings. More specifically in relation to personality variables, of particular interest to me is the construct of psychopathy (also termed psychopathic personality disorder) and its growing impact in forensic and correctional decision-making around the world. My research along these lines has focused on more basic issues related to the assessment and measurement of psychopathic traits, as well as more applied issues such as its appropriate role in evaluating various populations within forensic and correctional settings (e.g., children, minorities) and the potentially stigmatizing effects of the label psychopath. I also conduct research on human aggression, particularly related to the assessment and management of violence risk. This research interest cuts across several areas noted above (e.g., forensic assessment, psychopathy, legal decision-making) and has focused primarily on the clinical utility of various violence risk factors in identifying those most (or least) at risk for engaging in aggressive behavior.


  • 2013-2015: Augmenting the Research Capacity of the Clinical Psychology Training Program, CO-PI, TAMU
  • 2008-2012: Contextual Influences in Prisoner Research (R01 MH081069), PI, NIMH
  • 2002-2006: Personality Features in Social Deviancy (R01 MH63783), CO-I, NIMH


Google scholar page

ResearchGate profile

DeMatteo, D., Edens, J. F., *Galloway, M., *Cox, J., *Smith, S., & *Formon, D. (2014). The role and reliability of the Psychopathy Checklist-Revised in U.S. sexually violent predator evaluations: A case law survey. Law and Human Behavior, 38, 248-255.

Edens, J. F., *Davis, K. M., *Fernandez Smith, K., & *Guy, L. S. (2013). No sympathy for the devil: Attributing psychopathic traits to capital murderers also predicts support for executing them. Personality Disorders: Theory, Research, and Treatment, 4, 175-181.

Edens, J. F., *Cox, J., *Smith, S., DeMatteo, D., & *Sörman, K. (2015). How reliable are Psychopathy Checklist-Revised scores in Canadian criminal trials? A case law review. Psychological Assessment, 27, 447-456.

Edens, J. F., *Kelley, S. E., Lilienfeld, S. O., Skeem, J. L., & Douglas, K. S. (2015). DSM-5 antisocial personality disorder: Predictive validity in a prison sample. Law and Human Behavior, 39, 123-129.

Ruiz, M. A., *Cox, J., *Magyar, M. S., & Edens, J. F. (2014). Predictive validity of the Personality Assessment Inventory (PAI) for criminal re-offending following completion of an in-jail addiction treatment program. Psychological Assessment, 26, 673-678.

*Smith, S., Edens, J. F., Clark, J., & *Rulseh, A. (2014). "So what is a psychopath?" Venireperson perceptions, beliefs and attitudes about psychopathic personality. Law and Human Behavior, 38, 490-500.

*Smith, S., *Kelley, S. E., *Rulseh, A., *Sörman, K., & Edens, J. F. (2014). Adapting the HCR-20v3 for pre-trial settings. International Journal of Forensic Mental Health, 13, 160-171.

*Sörman, K., Edens, J. F., *Smith, S. T., Svensson, O., Howner, K., Kristiansson, M., & Fischer, H. (2014). Forensic mental health professionals’ perceptions of psychopathy: A prototypicality analysis of the Comprehensive Assessment of Psychopathic Personality in Sweden. Law and Human Behavior, 38, 405-417.

*Current or former graduate student co-authors

Department of Psychology, Texas A&M University, 4235 TAMU, College Station, TX 77843-4235 • tel: (979) 845-2581
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