Dr. Stewart Thompson

Stewart Thompson, PhD

Associate Professor of Psycholgy & Education

  • stewart.thompson@nmt.edu • Fitch 205
    (575) 835 - 5009
    Email for Appointment

Since 1999, Stewart's research has focused on how our environment affects performance, primarily how light regulates physiology and behaviors such as alertness and sleep. Recently our research focus has shifted to try and understand how we can use psychology to balance risk and utility of online systems (cybersecurity). This interest includes:
1. The cognitive and behavioral factors that make us vulnerable to scams such as phishing emails. It is plausible that some cognitive and/or socio-cultural traits will increase the risk of users falling victim to specific types of threat. Although there has been research on cognitive factors that are exploited in deception, how specific cognitive traits relate to specific risks and how those relationships change among different demographics is poorly understood.
2. How user psychology can be used to reduce risky behaviors.  Once the relationships between cognitive traits and cyber-risk are identified, then psychological principles can be applied to optimize the cyberdefense environment for that users and other users of those systems: the design and testing of hardware and software (UI/UX); customizing permissions, protocols and warnings for specific users' needs, traits and expertise level; directing cyberdefense awareness and training programs to focus on issues most relevant to the specific users.
3. How we can best support professionals working in stressful cyberdefense roles. Stress and mental health are major concerns among cyberdefense professionals, and teams that support their members' mental wellbeing are likely to have better defense performance, reduced unscheduled absences, and better recruitment and retention.