The Undoing Project

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A friendship that changed our minds

Hi, welcome to Bookey. Today we’ll unlock the book The Undoing Project: A Friendship That Changed Our Minds. Before we proceed, first think of the following two questions. Question one: Imagine you’ve been given $1,000, and you need to choose from two options. Option A is a 50% chance to win $1,000. Option B is a 100% chance to win $500. Which one would you pick? Question two: You've been given $2,000, and you need to choose from another two options. Option A is a 50% chance to lose $1,000. Option B is a 100% chance to lose $500. Which one would you pick this time? These were the two questions that the two psychologists asked their research participants. The result showed that for the first question, the majority picked the option with a 100% chance of winning $500. When answering the second question, however, most people chose the prospect with a 50% chance of losing $1,000. However when you think carefully, you'll see that the two questions are virtually identical. If you are happy with $1,500, then you should pick both options offering the same resulting amount with a 100% chance. On the other hand, if you’d like to take the opportunity to win the $2,000, then you should choose both options giving you a 50% chance to achieve it. So, why would people make contrary choices, even if the gain remains the same and the only difference being the description? We make all kinds of similar irrational choices in our daily lives. What lies behind such behavior and preferences? That is precisely one of the points that the book we're sharing with you today seeks to explore. The above study was designed by two psychologists, Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky, who are the focus of The Undoing Project. In the 1970s, they began their research on the human thinking process. They initiated the scientific understanding of decision-making and judgment, which subverted the basic assumptions of the traditional economic theory, and later developed behavioral economics. The author, Michael Lewis, is a bestselling American author. His most famous works include Liar’s Poker, in which he described the Wall Street culture in the 1980s, The Big Short, in which he investigated the subprime mortgage crisis, and The New New Thing. Among all his works, Liar’s Poker and The New New Thing were listed by Forbes as among the 20 most influential business books of the 20th century. Bookey also has Liar’s Poker and The Big Short on its platform. Feel free to listen to them if you are interested. The Undoing Project is at once partially a biography of the two psychologists, and partially a report on their research results and contributions. It recounts a history of the development of behavioral economics by Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky. When comparing with the book Thinking, Fast and Slow, written by Daniel Kahneman himself, which examines the main ideas of behavioral economics, The Undoing Project is a work that is almost complementary to it. This book offers readers more than just fascinating stories of what happened between the two academic leaders, but also knowledge on psychology and behavioral economics. Using this knowledge, we can become more aware of our irrational decisions when we make them, and thus more capable of making better judgments in our lives. By the way, we also have Thinking, Fast and Slow on our platform as well. Up next, we will explore the major content of the book in three parts. Part One: About Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky Part Two: Kahneman and Tversky’s research on human judgment and prediction Part Three: Kahneman and Tversky’s development of the prospect theory

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