behavioral economics

Michael Lewis’s Next Book, The Undoing Project, Will Be About the Godfathers of Behavioral Economics, Amos Tversky and Daniel Kahneman

Photo: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images

If you’ve read Thinking, Fast and Slow, the Nobel Prize–winning Princeton psychologist Daniel Kahneman’s wonderful book about behavioral economics — and if you haven’t, you really should — you’ll know that Kahneman believes he owes a great deal of his success to his extremely productive, decade-spanning friendship with Amos Tversky, a fellow psychologist, who died in 1996.

It was a point Kahneman drove home in an interview I did with him in 2013, when I asked him about winning one of the most prestigious prizes in the world on the basis of work he had done with a friend who had since passed away: “I never forget that the recognition I get is for work that was done by a successful team of which I was lucky to be a member,” he said.

Together, the two men did a great deal of the grunt work of establishing behavioral economics as a field, and that field’s key insight — that humans are, in fundamental ways, irrational in certain aspects of their decision-making (such as by failing to weigh risks and rewards accurately and appropriately) — has echoed loudly ever since they started publishing their work.

Given all of this, it’s very exciting that one of the top authors in the country, Michael Lewis, has taken on the Tversky–Kahneman friendship, and the ideas it produced, as the subject of his next book.

Alexandra Alter of the New York Times writes:

“The Undoing Project” explores the groundbreaking work of two psychologists, Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky, whose research into decision making and judgment has challenged fundamental beliefs about human nature. In study after study, they showed that when it comes to making decisions, humans are predisposed to irrationality. Their surprising findings have had profound implications for everything from behavioral economics and politics, to advanced medicine and sports.

Few details are offered other than that, but we won’t have to wait too long to find out more anyway, since the book is due out in December. And given Lewis’s skill in explaining complicated concepts and interweaving them with potent human stories, this is likely to be a very good read for anyone interested in human psychology.

Michael Lewis’s Next Book Is About Behavioral Econ