Amos Tversky

Amos Tversky

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Amos Nathan Tversky, was a cognitive
Cognitive psychology
Cognitive psychology is a subdiscipline of psychology exploring internal mental processes.It is the study of how people perceive, remember, think, speak, and solve problems.Cognitive psychology differs from previous psychological approaches in two key ways....

 and mathematical psychologist
Mathematical psychology
Mathematical psychology is an approach to psychological research that is based on mathematical modeling of perceptual, cognitive and motor processes, and on the establishment of law-like rules that relate quantifiable stimulus characteristics with quantifiable behavior...

, a pioneer of cognitive science
Cognitive science
Cognitive science is the interdisciplinary scientific study of mind and its processes. It examines what cognition is, what it does and how it works. It includes research on how information is processed , represented, and transformed in behaviour, nervous system or machine...

, a longtime collaborator of Daniel Kahneman
Daniel Kahneman
Daniel Kahneman is an Israeli-American psychologist and Nobel laureate. He is notable for his work on the psychology of judgment and decision-making, behavioral economics and hedonic psychology....

, and a key figure in the discovery of systematic human cognitive bias
Cognitive bias
A cognitive bias is a pattern of deviation in judgment that occurs in particular situations. Implicit in the concept of a "pattern of deviation" is a standard of comparison; this may be the judgment of people outside those particular situations, or may be a set of independently verifiable...

 and handling of risk
Risk is the potential that a chosen action or activity will lead to a loss . The notion implies that a choice having an influence on the outcome exists . Potential losses themselves may also be called "risks"...

. Much of his early work concerned the foundations of measurement. He was co-author of a three-volume treatise, Foundations of Measurement (recently reprinted). His early work with Kahneman focused on the psychology of prediction and probability judgment. Amos Tversky and Daniel Kahneman worked together to develop prospect theory
Prospect theory
Prospect theory is a theory that describes decisions between alternatives that involve risk i.e. where the probabilities of outcomes are known. The model is descriptive: it tries to model real-life choices, rather than optimal decisions.-Model:...

, which aims to explain irrational human economic choices and is considered one of the seminal works of behavioral economics. Six years after Tversky's death, Kahneman received the 2002 Nobel Prize in Economics
Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences
The Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences, commonly referred to as the Nobel Prize in Economics, but officially the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel , is an award for outstanding contributions to the field of economics, generally regarded as one of the...

 for the work he did in collaboration with Amos Tversky. Kahneman told The New York Times
The New York Times
The New York Times is an American daily newspaper founded and continuously published in New York City since 1851. The New York Times has won 106 Pulitzer Prizes, the most of any news organization...

in an interview soon after receiving the honor: "I feel it is a joint prize. We were twinned for more than a decade."
Tversky also collaborated with Thomas Gilovich
Thomas Gilovich
Thomas D. Gilovich is a professor of psychology at Cornell University who has researched decision making and behavioral economics and has written popular books on said subjects. He has collaborated with Daniel Kahneman, Lee Ross and Amos Tversky....

, Paul Slovic
Paul Slovic
Paul Slovic is a professor of psychology at the University of Oregon and the president of the Decision Research group. He earned his Ph.D. in psychology at the University of Michigan in 1964....

 and Richard Thaler
Richard Thaler
Richard H. Thaler is an American economist and the Ralph and Dorothy Keller Distinguished Service Professor of Behavioral Science and Economics at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business...

 in several key papers.


Tversky was born in Haifa
Haifa is the largest city in northern Israel, and the third-largest city in the country, with a population of over 268,000. Another 300,000 people live in towns directly adjacent to the city including the cities of the Krayot, as well as, Tirat Carmel, Daliyat al-Karmel and Nesher...

, Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

. He served with distinction in Israel Defense Forces
Israel Defense Forces
The Israel Defense Forces , commonly known in Israel by the Hebrew acronym Tzahal , are the military forces of the State of Israel. They consist of the ground forces, air force and navy. It is the sole military wing of the Israeli security forces, and has no civilian jurisdiction within Israel...

 rising to a rank of captain and was decorated for bravery. He received his undergraduate education at Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Hebrew University of Jerusalem
The Hebrew University of Jerusalem ; ; abbreviated HUJI) is Israel's second-oldest university, after the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology. The Hebrew University has three campuses in Jerusalem and one in Rehovot. The world's largest Jewish studies library is located on its Edmond J...

 Israel, and his doctorate
A doctorate is an academic degree or professional degree that in most countries refers to a class of degrees which qualify the holder to teach in a specific field, A doctorate is an academic degree or professional degree that in most countries refers to a class of degrees which qualify the holder...

 from the University of Michigan
University of Michigan
The University of Michigan is a public research university located in Ann Arbor, Michigan in the United States. It is the state's oldest university and the flagship campus of the University of Michigan...

 in Ann Arbor in 1964. He later taught at the Hebrew University, Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

 before moving to Stanford University
Stanford University
The Leland Stanford Junior University, commonly referred to as Stanford University or Stanford, is a private research university on an campus located near Palo Alto, California. It is situated in the northwestern Santa Clara Valley on the San Francisco Peninsula, approximately northwest of San...

. In 1984 he was a recipient of the MacArthur Fellowship. Amos Tversky was married to Barbara Tversky
Barbara Tversky
Barbara Tversky is a Professor Emerita of Psychology at Stanford University and a Professor of Psychology and Education at Teachers College, Columbia University. Tversky specializes in cognitive psychology. She is a leading authority in the areas of visual-spatial reasoning and collaborative...

, now a professor in the human development department at Teachers College, Columbia University
Teachers College, Columbia University
Teachers College, Columbia University is a graduate school of education located in New York City, New York...

. Tversky, co-recipient with Daniel Kahneman, earned the 2003 University of Louisville Grawemeyer Award for Psychology.
He died of a metastatic melanoma
Melanoma is a malignant tumor of melanocytes. Melanocytes are cells that produce the dark pigment, melanin, which is responsible for the color of skin. They predominantly occur in skin, but are also found in other parts of the body, including the bowel and the eye...


Comparative Ignorance

Tversky and Fox (1995) addressed ambiguity aversion, the idea that people do not like ambiguous gambles or choices with ambiguity, with the comparative ignorance framework. Their idea was that people are only ambiguity averse when their attention is specifically brought to the ambiguity by comparing an ambiguous option to an unambiguous option. For instance, people are willing to bet more on choosing a correct colored ball from an urn containing equal proportions of black and red balls than an urn with unknown proportions of balls when evaluating both of these urns at the same time. However, when evaluating them separately, people are willing to bet approximately the same amount on either urn. Thus, when it is possible to compare the ambiguous gamble to an unambiguous gamble people are averse - but not when one is ignorant of this comparison.

Notable contributions

  • foundations of measurement
  • anchoring and adjustment
  • availability heuristic
    Availability heuristic
    The availability heuristic is a phenomenon in which people predict the frequency of an event, or a proportion within a population, based on how easily an example can be brought to mind....

  • base rate fallacy
    Base rate fallacy
    The base rate fallacy, also called base rate neglect or base rate bias, is an error that occurs when the conditional probability of some hypothesis H given some evidence E is assessed without taking into account the "base rate" or "prior probability" of H and the total probability of evidence...

  • conjunction fallacy
    Conjunction fallacy
    The conjunction fallacy is a logical fallacy that occurs when it is assumed that specific conditions are more probable than a single general one.The most often-cited example of this fallacy originated with Amos Tversky and Daniel Kahneman:...

  • framing
    Framing (social sciences)
    A frame in social theory consists of a schema of interpretation — that is, a collection of anecdotes and stereotypes—that individuals rely on to understand and respond to events. In simpler terms, people build a series of mental filters through biological and cultural influences. They use these...

  • behavioral finance
    Behavioral finance
    Behavioral economics and its related area of study, behavioral finance, use social, cognitive and emotional factors in understanding the economic decisions of individuals and institutions performing economic functions, including consumers, borrowers and investors, and their effects on market...

  • clustering illusion
    Clustering illusion
    The clustering illusion refers to the tendency erroneously to perceive small samples from random distributions to have significant "streaks" or "clusters", caused by a human tendency to underpredict the amount of variability likely to appear in a small sample of random or semi-random data due to...

  • loss aversion
    Loss aversion
    In economics and decision theory, loss aversion refers to people's tendency to strongly prefer avoiding losses to acquiring gains. Some studies suggest that losses are twice as powerful, psychologically, as gains....

  • prospect theory
    Prospect theory
    Prospect theory is a theory that describes decisions between alternatives that involve risk i.e. where the probabilities of outcomes are known. The model is descriptive: it tries to model real-life choices, rather than optimal decisions.-Model:...

  • cumulative prospect theory
    Cumulative prospect theory
    Cumulative prospect theory is a model for descriptive decisions under risk which was introduced by Amos Tversky and Daniel Kahneman in 1992 . It is a further development and variant of prospect theory...

  • representativeness heuristic
    Representativeness heuristic
    The representativeness heuristic is a psychological term describing a phenomenon wherein people judge the probability or frequency of a hypothesis by considering how much the hypothesis resembles available data as opposed to using a Bayesian calculation. While often very useful in everyday life, it...

  • Tversky index
    Tversky index
    The Tversky index, named after Amos Tversky, is an asymmetric similarity measure that compares a variant to a prototype. The Tversky index can be seen as a generalization of Dice's coefficient and Tanimoto coefficient....

  • support theory
  • contrast model

External links