KeywordsEmotional Intelligence Transcendental Meditation Dark Triad Forensic Psychology Social Service Department
Early Life and Educational Background
Visser was born in 1963 in Picton, Ontario, a small Canadian town. Her father worked for the federal government and her mother was a homemaker. Her father’s career necessitated frequently moving the family within Canada, and wherever they went, both parents furthered their educations, taking courses in everything from statistics and computer programming to transcendental meditation and upholstering.
Visser has shown a similar lifelong breadth of interests. After completing an undergraduate degree in psychology at the University of Waterloo in 1990, she immediately married husband, Rob, and began working in a regional social services department. Over the next two decades, she held positions as researcher, community worker, journalist, compensation analyst, and editor while raising three children. In 2003, Visser registered at Brock University (Canada) to complete a terminal master’s program in psychology with the career goal of conducting psychoeducational assessments for the local school board. Toward this end, Visser worked under the supervision of Dr. Michael Ashton testing Howard Gardner’s multiple intelligences theory. By the time she had completed her master’s degree, Visser had developed a keen interest in Ashton’s (with Kibeom Lee) HEXACO model of personality and, particularly, the “H Factor” of Honesty-Humility and its relevance to antisocial behavior. Visser went on to complete a PhD in social/personality psychology at Brock, still under the supervision of Ashton. She was also mentored by Angela Book (forensic psychology) and Anthony Bogaert (human sexuality).
Upon completion of her PhD, Visser accepted a limited term appointment at Trent University (Canada) in 2010. This initial appointment led to 5 years at Trent University, where Visser took particular pleasure in teaching psychometrics to undergraduates. She built a research program around psychopathy and the “dark” personalities, particularly, in relation to HEXACO personality. She continued to publish with Ashton, Book, and Bogaert while developing new collaborations, including one with Jennifer Lodi-Smith of Canisius College (USA).
Visser has over 35 publications in outlets such as Journal of Personality, Personality and Individual Differences, Archives of Sexual Behavior, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Journal of Personality Assessment, Journal of Research in Personality, Intelligence, and European Journal of Personality.
In January 2016, Visser moved to Lakehead University, where she immediately began incorporating undergraduate and graduate students into her research program.
Visser’s research program began with cognitive abilities, and she maintains an interest in this area. Her primary line of research, however, involves subclinical psychopathy – for example, she has investigated the role of anxiety in psychopathy, the relations between psychopathy and emotional intelligence ability, and the moderating role of psychopathy in the association between people’s sexual fantasies and their sexual behaviors.
In relation to her interest in dark personalities, Visser has collaborated with Angela Book, suggesting that HEXACO personality (particularly low Honesty-Humility) can explain the core of the dark triad (narcissism, Machiavellianism, and subclinical psychopathy) and the dark tetrad (the original triad plus everyday sadism).
Another line of research is around self-objectification and self-sexualization. In collaboration with Anthony Bogaert and Julie Pozzebon, Visser has developed measures and tested Bogaert’s object of desire self-consciousness theory, which suggests that being the focus of male desire tends to be incorporated into girls’ and women’s sexual and romantic scripts.
- Visser, B. A., Ashton, M. C., & Vernon, P. A. (2008). What makes you think you’re so smart? Measured abilities, personality, and sex differences in relation to self-estimates of multiple intelligences. Journal of Individual Differences, 29, 35–44. doi:10.1027/1614-0001.29.1.35.CrossRefGoogle Scholar