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Amos Tversky: biography of this cognitive psychologist

Amos Tversky: biography of this cognitive psychologist

July 19, 2024

Amos Tversky (1937-1996) was a cognitive psychologist, with significant training in mathematics, who brought many of the fundamental knowledge in cognitive science. Among other things, he studied cognitive biases and risk management, issues that were applied in important ways in other disciplines, such as economics or law.

In this article we will see a biography of Amos Tversky , as well as some of its contributions in the development of cognitive psychology.

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Biography of Amos Tversky: pioneer in cognitive psychology

Amos Tversky was born on March 16, 1937 in Haifa, Israel. Son of veterinarian Yosef Tversky, and of Genia, a woman member of Israel's parliament for almost twenty years. Both Yosef and Genia had migrated to Israel from Poland and Russia. In the 1960s formed a couple with one of the most representative cognitive psychologies of our time, Barbara Tversky , with whom he also had two children and a daughter.

As a young man, Tversky served in the Israeli army forces, initially as part of the elite paratrooper unit, and later as a captain in service for three wars.

In the year of 1961, Amos Tversky obtained his undergraduate studies from the University of Hebrew, and later, in the year of 1965, he obtained a PhD from the University of Michigan. In the same university, as well as in Tel Aviv, he worked as a professor and researcher in psychology and economics, and subsequently He did various jobs at the Advanced Center for Studies in Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University , where he worked since the late 70's and until his death.

Among its main contributions is laying the foundations for the understanding of psychological phenomena that occur in the commercial context. For example, the decisions and reactions of consumers to some market strategies such as offers, discounts or the use of credit cards. For the same, his contributions were relevant not only for cognitive psychology but for economics .

Main theoretical contributions

For a long time, Amos Tversky worked hand in hand with another Israeli psychologist and later Nobel Prize winner in economics, Daniel Kahneman. In the course of the decade of the 70's and the beginning of the 80's, they developed theories about the trial in situations of uncertainty; making decisions under risk situations, and rational choice .

According to Tversky, when people make decisions, we remain active in the exercise of understanding and rationally justifying what we have chosen (choice theory based on reason). In turn, elections are built in the same process of solving complex problems.

This means that the justification of a choice, and the preference for it, do not occur before the problem-solving process, but rather are generated while the process itself occurs, especially Given the need to make trade-offs between values ​​and goals for each decision .

Cognitive biases

Along with Kahneman, Tversky explained how "cognitive illusions" or biases of human judgment occur. The latter has an important impact on subsequent studies on reasoning, both in psychology and in economics, business, philosophy and medicine.

From different studies, both psychologists suggest that people tend to make decisions without taking into account the probabilities, that is, through intuitive rules that often lead to systematic cognitive biases.

For example, the belief that the higher the price, the better the quality of a product. In fact, as part of his studies, Tversky observed that effectively people reported a greater taste for the product when their brand had a high price ; compared to another product whose price was low. This bias was called the "perception bias between price and quality".

On the other hand, Tversky did important work on decision making under conditions of uncertainty, and observed that often, the limited understanding of the laws of chance erroneously transfers to the understanding of other processes marked by uncertainty.

From there, Tversky along with Kahneman, developed the Theory of perspective, which had a very important pact in financial economics, since it deals with making decisions in relation to variables such as time, uncertainty and alternatives.

  • Maybe you're interested: "Cognitive biases: discovering an interesting psychological effect"

Awards and distinctions

For his contributions to cognitive psychology, Amos Tversky was awarded with various awards and recognitions. For example, in 1980 was elected a member of the prestigious American Academy of Arts and Sciences , and later, in 1985, he was an associate researcher at the National Academy of Sciences.

On the other hand, he won the APA award for distinguished scientific contribution in 1982, and was recognized as an honorary doctor from the universities of Chicago, Tale, Gothenburg and the State University of New York in Buffalo.

Bibliographic references:

  • Amos Tversky (2016). New World Encyclopedia. Retrieved August 29, 2018. Available at //
  • Gutiérrez, J. (1991). The perceived price-quality ratio: an analysis of the available empirical evidence. Online Version. Retrieved August 29, 208. Available in //

Daniel Kahneman - On Amos Tversky (July 2024).

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