Daniel Kahneman (1934) is an American nationalized Israeli psychologist who has conducted significant studies in decision making, judgment, economic behavior theory and economic behavior, as well as experimental economics. The latter had an impact not only on psychology, but also on the economy and human activity in business, an issue that led him to win the Nobel Prize in economics in 2002.
Then we will see a biography of Daniel Kahneman as well as some of his major contributions.
Daniel Kahneman: Biography of this influential psychologist
Daniel Kahneman was born March 5, 1934 in Tel Aviv, Israel; while her mother, originally from Lithuania, visited relatives. He spent his early years in Paris, a city to which both parents have moved since 1920.
His stay in Paris was marked by the political context of the Nazi occupation, when his father was arrested and then released. In his writings, Kahneman himself has reported that the experience of living this context marked in an important way his later interest in the study of sociology.
In 1948, Kahneman and his family moved to Palestine, shortly before the establishment of the State of Israel. Eight years later, in 1954, Daniel Kahneman majored in psychology with a bachelor’s degree from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. As soon as he finished his training as a psychologist, Kahneman became practiced in the field of psychology of the Israel Defense Forces.
After that, he continued his professional development in the United States, in particular at the University of Berkeley, California, where he obtained a doctorate in psychology in 1958. As a lecturer and researcher, Kahneman practiced at Hebrew University, University of Michigan, Harvard University, among others. He is currently an academic at Princeton University.
Initially, Kahneman focused his research on the study of attention and perception. He then focused on studying two processes that would ultimately lead him to be recognized as one of the most influential psychologists of the time: judgment and decision making. However, in the 1990s, Kahneman took a new turn in his studies and began research in the area of hedonistic psychology.
Law of small numbers
Along with another psychologist of Israeli descent, Amos Tversky, Daniel Kahneman developed important theories on behavioral economics. For example, the law of small numbers.
Thanks to this concept, psychologists have discovered a fairly common phenomenon: the tendency to value the distribution of the sample as a population, regardless of the size of the sample; which leads to hasty and biased conclusions.
Tversky’s mathematical studies and Kahneman’s scientific training led him to develop this law and to take a critical look at various scientific researches as well as to explain various phenomena. such as the interpretation of political preferences and various cognitive biases.
One of Kahneman’s most recognized theories, which he developed in collaboration with Tversky, is perspective theory. It is recognized as one of the leading theories on behavioral economics and suggests that, the less uncertainty there is about the consequences of a decision, the greater the risk orientation of some people.
Prior to its theories, economics held that decisions were determined by calculating the final gains of each possible scenario, as well as the possibility that the latter would actually be obtained. So each person would assess which is the most likely scenario and make a decision based on it.
However, Kahneman’s research showed that people were unable to analyze complex situations involving decision-making when there was uncertainty about its future consequences. In fact, evaluation based on the likelihood of occurrence of a given outcome was an absent exercise in decision making for almost everyone who participated. So they argued that this exercise was finally over based on determining the value of losses and gains, And not just in the most likely end result.
By linking work in economics to hedonistic psychology, Kahneman develops a new line of research focused on the analysis of the social situation and the chances of achieving a state of happiness based on the economic situation.
This line connects psychology with economics and sociology, as it studies the effects of economic dynamics on individual psychology and social practices. Similarly, this theory does not focus so much on economics as it does on quality of life research.
One of the pioneering works on this subject was the 1966 text “Pupil Diameter and Memory Charge” published in the Science Journal. Later, in 1971 and with Amos Tversky, Kahneman published the article “Belief in the Law of Small Numbers”, a work which inaugurated the theory of the same name.
In 1979, they published the article “Prospective theory: an analysis of low-risk decisions”, which it became one of the most influential works of the two psychologists.
Also, for their contributions to understanding decision-making in the economic context, as well as related cognitive psychology, Kahneman was awarded the Nobel Prize in Economics in 2002 and with Vernon Smith.
In 2011, he received the Talcott Parsons Award from the Academy of Arts and Sciences, for his contribution to the social sciences. In the same audience, the bestseller Think Fast Think Slow.
- Daniel Kahneman (2018). Encyclopedia Britannica. Accessed September 4, 2018.Available at https://www.britannica.com/biography/Daniel-Kahneman
- Daniel Kahneman (2012). Totally history. Retrieved September 4. Available at http://totallyhistory.com/daniel-kahneman/