Competition funded (UK/EU and international students)

Project code



School of Accounting, Economics and Finance

Start dates

October 2024

Application deadline

19 January 2024

Applications are invited for a fully-funded three year PhD to commence in October 2024. 

The PhD will be based in the Faculty of Business and Law, and will be supervised by Dr Zahra Murad, Professor Yuksel Ekinci and Dr Z. Emel Ozturk. 

Candidates applying for this project may be eligible to compete for one of a small number of bursaries available. Successful applicants will receive a bursary to cover tuition fees for three years and a stipend in line with the UKRI rate (£18,622 for 2023/24). Bursary recipients will also receive £2,000 for fieldwork purposes. 

Costs for student visa and immigration health surcharge are not covered by this bursary. For further guidance and advice visit our international and EU students ‘Visa FAQs’ page.

The work on this project could involve:

  • Conducting online and lab experiments and surveys collecting primary data on economic decisions and personality traits.
  • Analysing Dark Tetrad personality traits from a representative sample household survey.
  • Collect micro-level secondary data from available longitudinal representative surveys to establish a causal link between dark tetrad traits and economic decisions.
  • Deliver a white paper on the importance of understanding how individual traits should be weighed when economics decisions are important in societal contexts.

Power-hungry, manipulative, and narcissistic employees can significantly impact the performance and well-being of individuals, teams, and entire organizations they manage or work in. In the corporate world, it has been argued that the lack of empathy and the greedy risk-taking behavior of financial leaders played a major role in the global economic crisis of 2008. Research indicates that individuals with dark personality traits may be drawn to leadership roles and entrepreneurship due to a desire for control and manipulation. They may also display distinct economic behaviors, including increased risk-taking, competitiveness, lower time discounting, and reduced levels of cooperation, trust, altruism, and sustainability.

In this project, our objective is to investigate whether individuals exhibiting dark personality traits, encompassing characteristics such as Machiavellianism, narcissism, psychopathy, and everyday sadism, tend to make different economic decisions compared to those with lighter personalities. The project aims to uncover the real-world implications of these personality traits, which often involve manipulative behavior, a sense of superiority, a desire for power, and a propensity for causing harm.

The dissertation will comprise at least three projects, each requiring a rigorous and in-depth empirical investigation. This investigation will rely on micro-level data derived from online and lab experiments, as well as large-scale representative sample surveys. This data will encompass behavioral experiments, psychometric tests, attitudes, preferences, and a broad range of demographic and background variables. The resulting publications are expected to have an empirical nature, necessitating quantitative analysis of both primary and secondary data.

Entry Requirements

You'll need a good first degree from an internationally recognised university (minimum upper second class or equivalent, depending on your chosen course) or a Master’s degree in an appropriate subject. In exceptional cases, we may consider equivalent professional experience and/or qualifications. English language proficiency at a minimum of IELTS band 6.5 with no component score below 6.0.

Some knowledge of experimental research methods,  knowledge of quantitative/statistical methods.

How to apply

We’d encourage you to contact Dr Zahra Murad  ( to discuss your interest before you apply, quoting the project code.

When you are ready to apply, you can use our online application form. Make sure you submit a personal statement, proof of your degrees and grades, details of two referees, proof of your English language proficiency and an up-to-date CV.  Our ‘How to Apply’ page offers further guidance on the PhD application process. 

Please also include a research proposal of 1,000 words outlining the main features of your proposed research design – including how it meets the stated objectives, the challenges this project may present, and how the work will build on or challenge existing research in the above field. 

If you want to be considered for this funded PhD opportunity you must quote project code AE&F8910124 when applying. Please note that email applications are not accepted.