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12/6/02

CONTACT: Lisa Trei, News Service: (650) 725-0224, lisatrei@stanford.edu

Amos Tversky posthumously wins 2003 Grawemeyer Award with Nobel Laureate Daniel Kahneman

Amos Tversky, a Stanford psychology professor who died in 1996, and his longtime colleague, Princeton psychologist Daniel Kahneman, have jointly won the 2003 Grawemeyer Award for Psychology.

The $200,000 prize, awarded for the third time by the University of Louisville in Kentucky, recognizes outstanding contributions to the field of psychology. The honor will be presented at a banquet in Louisville on April 3.

Working as a team for nearly three decades, Kahneman and Tversky revolutionized the scientific approach to decision making, ultimately affecting all social sciences and many related disciplines.

In October, Kahneman won the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences for the same research, sharing the award with Vernon Smith of George Mason University. The Nobel committee does not make posthumous awards, but in interviews Kahneman said the honor also belonged to Tversky, his longtime colleague and friend. "The prize ... is quite explicitly for joint work, but unfortunately there is no posthumous prize," Kahneman told Stanford Report. The Nobel Prize will be presented Dec. 10 in Stockholm.

Kahneman and Tversky pioneered the field of behavioral economics. In developing their so-called "prospect theory," the psychologists argued that people are not as calculating as economic models assume. Instead, they said, people repeatedly make errors in judgment that can be predicted and categorized. A 1979 paper they wrote on the subject in Econometrica is one of the most widely cited papers in economics. As a statement by the Grawemeyer Award committee noted, "It is difficult to identify a more influential idea than that of Kahneman and Tversky in the human sciences."

The Grawemeyer Foundation awards accomplishments in five fields psychology, music composition, education, religion and ideas improving world order. Each field is awarded a $200,000 prize for a total of $1 million. The work recognizes powerful ideas or creative works in the sciences, arts and humanities. Last year, Stanford psychology Professor David Rumelhart jointly won the award with James McClelland of Carnegie Mellon University.

Charles Grawemeyer was an industrialist, entrepreneur and University of Louisville graduate who died in 1993. He created the awards in 1984, distinguishing them by honoring ideas rather than personal achievement. He insisted that the selection process for each of the five awards -- although dominated by professionals -- include one step involving a lay committee knowledgeable in each field. As Grawemeyer saw it, great ideas should be accessible to everyone and not be the private treasure of academics.

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