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Daniel Kahneman

(1934 - 2024)

Daniel Kahneman was an Israeli-American scientist and professor who was awarded the 2002 Nobel Prize in Economics.

Kahneman was born on March 5, 1934, in Tel Aviv, Israel, and lived in France during the World War II. In 1946, he came back to Israel and studied at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. While serving in the Israeli Defense Forces, Kahneman devised a system for interviewing recruits that continued for several decades.

In 1961, he received his Ph.D. from Berkeley. Kahneman’s work was mainly in psychology; however, he shared the 2002 Nobel Prize in economics “for having integrated insights from psychological research into economic science, especially concerning human judgment and decision-making under uncertainty.” Kahneman argued that people think in terms of gains and losses, but in the short term, especially, they fear loss more than gain.

In one experiment to demonstrate their theory, Kahneman took two groups of people and gave them one attractive coffee mug; the second group was given nothing. The first group was allowed to choose whether they desired to keep the mug or to trade it for money. The second group was offered the choice between a mug or money. The researchers found that those without a mug were willing to accept less money than those who had to give up the mug they already had. This implied that an individual’s emotions, rather than cold rational calculations, affected their decision-making.

Kahneman’s other awards include the Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award of the American Psychological Association in 1982 and the Hilgard Award for Contributions to General Psychology in 1995. In 2013, President Barack Obama awarded Kahneman the U.S. Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor.

Kahneman was married to the award-winning cognitive psychologist Anne Treisman.

He died on March 27, 2024, at the age of 90.

Sources: The Anderson School at UCLA.
The Jerusalem Report, (November 4, 2002; February 10, 2003).
The Nobel Foundation.