Preference, Belief, and Similarity

Preference, Belief, and Similarity

Selected Writings

By Amos Tversky

Edited by Eldar Shafir

A Bradford Book





Amos Tversky (1937–1996), a towering figure in cognitive and mathematical psychology, devoted his professional life to the study of similarity, judgment, and decision making. He had a unique ability to master the technicalities of normative ideals and then to intuit and demonstrate experimentally their systematic violation due to the vagaries and consequences of human information processing. He created new areas of study and helped transform disciplines as varied as economics, law, medicine, political science, philosophy, and statistics. This book collects forty of Tversky's articles, selected by him in collaboration with the editor during the last months of Tversky's life. It is divided into three sections: Similarity, Judgment, and Preferences. The Preferences section is subdivided into Probabilistic Models of Choice, Choice under Risk and Uncertainty, and Contingent Preferences. Included are several articles written with his frequent collaborator, Nobel Prize-winning economist Daniel Kahneman.


Out of Print ISBN: 9780262201445 1040 pp. | 7 in x 9 in


$65.00 X ISBN: 9780262700931 1040 pp. | 7 in x 9 in


Eldar Shafir

Eldar Shafir, a student, close friend, and collaborator of Tversky's, is Class of 1987 Professor of Behavioral Science and Public Policy at Princeton University.


  • Amos Tversky was one of the most important social scientists of the last century. This extraordinary collection demonstrates his range and brilliance, and in particular his genius for showing how and why human intuitions go wrong. Is there a 'hot hand' in basketball? Is arthritis pain related to the weather? Why do we exaggerate certain risks? Why are some conflicts so hard to resolve? Tversky's answers will surprise you. Indispensable reading, and full of implications, for everyone interested in social science.

    Cass R. Sunstein

    Law School and Department of Political Science, University of Chicago

  • Amos Tversky's work has produced an ongoing revolution in our understanding of judment and choice. The articles in this book show why. They also show how: the articles are written with grace, wit, and a brilliance that frequently verges on the pyrotechnic.

    Richard E. Nisbett

    author of The Geography of Thought: How Asians and Westerners Think Differently...and Why

  • Amos Tversky's research on preferences and beliefs has had a shattering and yet highly constuctive influence on the development of economics. The vague complaints of psychologists and dissident economists about the excessive rationality assumptions of standard economics, going back over a century, had little impact. It required the careful accumulation of evidence, the clear sense tha tTversky did not misunderstand what economists were assuming, and above all his formulation of useful alternative hypotheses to change dissatisfaction into a revolutionary change in perspective.

    Kenneth J. Arrow

    Professor of Economics Emeritus, Stanford University

  • It is deeply ironic that similiarity and bounded rationality were two of the many topics that Amos Tversky studied—ironic because he seemed to be unboundedly rational and similar to no one. No one shared his combination of brilliance, precision, intuition, breadth, and enormous good humor. Few scholars change their own disciplines before they reach 40, as Tversky did, and even fewer then transform other disciplines, as he and Daniel Kahneman did for economics. Their influence on economics, recognized by the 2002 Nobel Prize, is still growing, and the discipline will never be the same. Nor will anyone who reads these papers: It is impossible to read Tversky without changing the way you think.

    Richard H. Thaler

    Robert P. Gwinn Professor of Economics and Behavioral Science, University of Chicago

  • This collection offers the best of Tversky, the best of the best. It is amazing how many of these articles are already classics, not only in the fields of choice and decision making, but in psychology in general.

    Edward E. Smith

    Arthur W. Melton Professor of Psychology, University of Michigan

  • Amos Tversky may have shown that basketball players do not have 'hot hands,' but he proved the opposite for psychologists. Tversky always made his basket, and in the process changed psychology, and also economics, forever.

    George Akerlof

    Koshland Professor of Economics, University of California, Berkeley, 2001 Nobel Laureate in Economic Sciences