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Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions Paperback – June 1, 2009


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Harper (June 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007256531
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007256532
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (716 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,737,521 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Irrational behavior is a part of human nature, but as MIT professor Ariely has discovered in 20 years of researching behavioral economics, people tend to behave irrationally in a predictable fashion. Drawing on psychology and economics, behavioral economics can show us why cautious people make poor decisions about sex when aroused, why patients get greater relief from a more expensive drug over its cheaper counterpart and why honest people may steal office supplies or communal food, but not money. According to Ariely, our understanding of economics, now based on the assumption of a rational subject, should, in fact, be based on our systematic, unsurprising irrationality. Ariely argues that greater understanding of previously ignored or misunderstood forces (emotions, relativity and social norms) that influence our economic behavior brings a variety of opportunities for reexamining individual motivation and consumer choice, as well as economic and educational policy. Ariely's intelligent, exuberant style and thought-provoking arguments make for a fascinating, eye-opening read. (Feb.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

'For anyone interested in marketing - either as a practioner or victim - this is unmissable reading. If only more researchers could write like this, the world would be a better place.' Financial Times 'A marvelous book that is both thought provoking and highly entertaining, ranging from the power of placebos to the pleasures of Pepsi. Ariely unmasks the subtle but powerful tricks that our minds play on us, and shows us how we can prevent being fooled.' Jerome Groopman, New York Times bestselling author of How Doctors Think 'PREDICTABLY IRRATIONAL is wildly original. It shows why-much more often than we usually care to admit-humans make foolish, and sometimes disastrous, mistakes. Ariely not only gives us a great read; he also makes us much wiser.' George Akerlof, Nobel Laureate in Economics, 2001 Koshland Professor of Economics, University of California at Berkeley

More About the Author

Dan Ariely is the James B Duke Professor of Psychology and Behavioral Economics at Duke University.

Dan publishes widely in the leading scholarly journals in economics, psychology, and business. His work has been featured in a variety of media including The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Boston Globe, Business 2.0, Scientific American, Science and CNN. He splits his time between Durham NC and the rest of the world

Customer Reviews

I would recommend this book for an interesting read.
Eric Chou
Dan Ariely, the author of Predictably Irrational has a good grasp on human behavior and what makes us act rationally; well what we think is rational.
B to the ronson
I like the fact that this book cites numerous academic studies that the author personally conducted.
F. Tanner

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

208 of 218 people found the following review helpful By Irfan A. Alvi TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on May 20, 2009
Format: Hardcover
This book and Dan Ariely have recieved a lot of media attention, so I approached the book with some skepticism, thinking that it might be overhyped. I'm pleased to report that my skepticism turned out to be unwarranted.

The book has many strengths, the main one being that it convincingly presents many ways people are wired and/or conditioned to be irrational, usually without even being aware of it. This eye-opening revelation can be a bit disheartening, but the good news is that we can fix at least some of this irrationality by being aware of how it can arise and then making a steady effort to override it or compensate for it. That's not an easy task, but it can be done. As a simple example, I've programmed a realistic exercise schedule into my PDA, and I've been very consistent with my exercise because of that. The PDA imposes a discipline on me which I couldn't otherwise impose on myself (as I know from experience).

The book is also well written, and I would even say enjoyable to read. The many experiments described in the book are presented in a lively way which elicits interest, and Ariely goes into just the right amount of detail -- enough to convey the basic experimental designs, results, and plausible interpretations, without boring the reader by getting into esoteric points which are more appropriate for journal papers.

The one criticism I have of the book, which applies to most of Western pscyhology, is that most of the described experiments used US college students as subjects. That raises a serious question regarding the extent to which the results can be generalized to people of the same age who aren't college students, people of other ages, and people outside the US.
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355 of 388 people found the following review helpful By Drifty on June 26, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I have been thinking about economics seriously for nearly 30 years. Classical economics is built to no small degree on the notion that people will generally act in their own best self interest, after rationally and intelligently examining their options. This fit my world view fine in my first career as an engineer (BS and MS in Electrical Engineering).

From my 2nd Career as a Business Development person (MBA), I began to have to deal with people's tendency to not entirely think things through.

Here in this book, we have a professor who runs socioeconomic tests on his MBA students. These students are smart enough, worldly enough, experienced enough, and educated enough to approximate the standard economic assumptions and produce reasonably rational behavior.

Guess what. Even among broad experiments conducted on multiple MBA classes over time, one can predictably pre-bias the outcome of a particular run of a socioeconomic experiment by what seeds you plant in the class members' minds before the experiment. For example, in one experiment in estimating prices, the author requires his students to write the last two digits of their social security numbers on the top of the paper. Simply the act of writing a high number (e.g., 88) versus a low number (e.g., 08) produced statistically significant correlatable influences on the students' later price estimates. Those compelled to write "88" at the top of their papers would reliably estimate higher prices than those compelled to write "08" at the top of their papers, to a statistically significant degree.

Extrapolating to "real life." Watching Fox News will tend to make you more conservative without you knowing it. Watching MSNBC news will tend to make you more liberal without you knowing it.
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283 of 315 people found the following review helpful By D. Stuart on February 19, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Dan Ariely is the guy you'd want at your dinner party. He's witty, smart and also very inclusive - sharing his passion for the way humans tick in a way that makes us feel great about the fact that, rational as we like to think we are, we make bad snap decisions, we cheat and we get ruled by our heart precisely when the facts are screaming "go the other way!" There's a lot in this writing which celebrates our human-ness. Why do we do this?
What Ariely has done here is shift a lot of the thinking developed by such pioneers as Kahneman & Tversky who worked in behavioural economics, and moved it into the everyday sphere. And he's done a great, insightful job. Where the behavioural economists are focused on financial decisions (why we buy high and sell low - and confound the assumptions of the classic economists who assume 'the rational man,) Ariely eschews the technical language and walks us through everyday examples of our often fuzzy and quite irrational decision-making.

The result is utterly engaging - and this easy 300 page read still has academic rigour and strong foundations. Ariely cites many experiments and examples, and shows that we often get things wrong because we frame things the wrong way, mis-judge probabilities, apply heuristic rules of thumb that don't always work, or we just plain let our emotions rule.

We love to think that we're educated, rational and moral. Yet who hasn't overestimated the upside on a sure-fire investment, bought some clothing that we knew was a mistake even as we bought it, or got our wires crossed between work-rules and social rules? This book is fascinating, entertaining and very, very illuminating.

- Recommended for the general public, but I'd urge marketers, market researchers and business people to read this one carefully.
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