Peter Cathcart Wason

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Peter Cathcart Wason (22 April 1924 – 17 April 2003) was a cognitive psychologist at University College, London, who worked on the psychology of reason. He made progress in explaining why people make certain consistent mistakes in logical reasoning. He designed logical problems and tests to demonstrate these processes, for example the Wason selection task, the THOG problem and the 2-4-6 problem. He also coined the term "confirmation bias"[1] to describe the tendency for people to immediately favor information that validates their preconceptions, hypotheses and personal beliefs regardless of whether they are true or not.

Wason was born in Bath Somerset on 22 April 1924, studied English at New College at the University of Oxford and died at seventy-nine in Wallingford, Oxfordshire on 17 April 2003. Eugene Wason was his grandfather.[2] He was also an International Master in correspondence chess.[citation needed]


Wason wrote the following books:

  • Thinking and Reasoning (co-edited with P N Johnson-Laird, 1968)
  • Psychology of Reasoning: Structure and Content (with P N Johnson-Laird, 1972)
  • Thinking: Readings in Cognitive Science (co-edited with P N Johnson-Laird, 1977)
  • The Psychology of Chess (with William Hartston, 1983).


  1. ^ Gale, Maggie; Ball, Linden J. (2002), "Does Positivity Bias Explain Patterns of Performance on Wason's 2-4-6 task?", in Gray, Wayne D.; Schunn, Christian D., Proceedings of the Twenty-Fourth Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society, Routledge, p. 340, ISBN 978-0-8058-4581-5, OCLC 469971634 
  2. ^ "Wason family tree 2". Retrieved 1 August 2010. 


  • "Peter Wason". The Telegraph (Telegraph Group Limited). 22 April 2003. 
  • Johnson-Laird, Philip (25 April 2003). "Peter Wason". The Education Guardian (Guardian Newspapers Limited).