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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars We feel like we base our decisions on rationality. We don't, July 18, 2010
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This review is from: The Upside of Irrationality: The Unexpected Benefits of Defying Logic at Work and at Home (Hardcover)
If you are interesting in making better decisions, understanding human nature and the importance of testing then this is the book for you. This book provides greater insight into how people make the decisions and choices that guide their lives. Whether we know it or not we all have biases that creep into our thought processes and influences how we decide, choose and act. The Upside of Irrationality: The Unexpected Benefits of Defying Logic at Work and at Home shows why we can't simply rely on assumptions and intuition if we want to make the most rational, and by definition the "most optimal" choices.

Professor Ariely takes aim at some cherished assumptions and uses experimentation and scientific reasoning to ascertain their effectiveness. I found the results fascinating, even when somewhat predicable...that people self-select based on attractiveness level and that, while we prefer someone attractive over someone unattractive we eventually settle for someone approximating our own level of attractiveness and then rationalize our decision. This seems like a pretty intuitive answer but having the scientific results back this up was nice.

The bottom line...Not all of our intuitions prove to be as accurate and useful as we think they do. Oftentimes our intuitions, the things we just "know" to be true prove to be just plain wrong. Everyone makes decisions based on emotions, intuition or "gut feel", not logic. We know this intuitively, but when it comes to ourselves we often think the opposite, that "Our" decisions are more logic based. After all, we are not like other people. Professor Ariely stresses the need to use the scientific method and to incorporate testing and scientific rigor into our decision making processes. We need to know that the results we get from a certain action are what we want and expect, not just what we are hoping for. If we were to accurately measure the results we got from most of our decisions and actions we would probably do something different.

In addition to dating the book addresses how we react to short term emotions and why we shouldn't let them dictate our reactions. The results of his research gives credence to the old advice to wait a day before reacting or to count to ten. Often decisions made in haste are unduly influenced by our emotional state and the effects are long lasting.

While I found the entire book fascinating and a "must-read" book for those seeking to understand human behavior and decision making the #1 takeaway I had was the need to test everything. This one idea, backed up by the evidence presented in the book, would, if implemented, massively improve our performance in almost every area of our lives.
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Location: Las Vegas, NV USA

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