Peter Karl (PK) Jonason is a faculty member at Western Sydney University in the greater metropolitan area of Sydney, Australia. He is a social-personality psychologist who uses evolutionary, primatological, and behavioral economic models to conduct research on (1) sex differences, (2) the dark side of human nature, (3) sexual and romantic relationships, and (4) sexuality.
Early Life and Educational Background
Jonason was born on March 18, 1978 in White Plains, NY. Originally, he intended to be a lawyer, but then he took a class with social psychologist Ross Buck who inspired him towards a career in research. He earned his B.A. in Communication Science and Political Science and his M.A. in Communication Science from the University of Connecticut 2000 and 2003, respectively. He earned his Ph.D. in social psychology from New Mexico State University in 2009 under the direction of mentors like Laura Madson, Norman Li, and Gregory Webster.
Jonason held visiting positions from 2009-2011 at the University of West Florida and the University of South Alabama. Since 2011, Jonason has been in the School of Social Sciences and Psychology at Western Sydney University. He has authored more than 75 publications during his career which have appeared in outlets such as the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, Archives of Sexual Behavior, and Psychological Assessment. He is the editor of special issues and reviews at Personality and Individual Differences, an associate editor at the APA’s first evolutionary psychology journal, Evolutionary Behavioral Sciences, and is a consulting editor for the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Evolutionary Psychology, and Journal of Social Psychology.
Jonason is best known for his work on the Dark Triad traits (e.g., narcissism, psychopathy, and Machiavellianism). He is responsible for the upsurge in interest in these traits over the last decade through his integration of these personality features into an evolutionary framework. He has designed and validated a measure of the traits (i.e., the Dirty Dozen), examined the traits in social and organizational contexts, and has investigated the traits in relation to various interpersonal and intrapersonal phenomena. In 2014 he won the IgNobel award in psychology for his work on these traits and in 2015 he served Visiting Scholar positions at Lomonosov Moscow State University and the University of Western Ontario given his success in this area of inquiry. Throughout his career has also studied sexual and romantic relationships, publishing noteworthy papers on functions afforded by relationships, dealbreakers in romantic and sexual relationships, playing hard-to-get, and mate preferences. His work centers on demonstrating the utility of an evolutionary model for psychology, asking “uncomfortable questions”, and attempting to help others see the “forest” from the “trees” (i.e., the bigger picture) in their research and day-to-day life.
Jonason, P.K. (2013). Four functions for four relationships: Consensus definitions in university students. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 42, 1407-1414.
Jonason, P.K., Garcia, J., Webster, G.D., Li, N.P., & Fisher, H. (2015). Relationship dealbreakers: What individuals do not want in a mate. Personality and Social Psychological Bulletin, 41, 1697-1711.
Jonason, P.K., & Li, N.P. (2013). Playing hard-to-get: Manipulating one’s perceived availability as a mate. European Journal of Personality, 27, 458-469
Jonason, P.K., Li, N.P., Webster, G.W., Schmitt, D.P. (2009). The Dark Triad: Facilitating short-term mating in men. European Journal of Personality, 23, 5-18.
Jonason, P.K., & Webster, G.D. (2010). The Dirty Dozen: A concise measure of the Dark Triad. Psychological Assessment, 22, 420-432.
Jonason, P.K., Webster, G.W., Schmitt, D.P., Li, N.P., & Crysel, L. (2012). The antihero in popular culture: A Life History Theory of the Dark Triad. Review of General Psychology, 16, 192-199.