59 of 65 people found the following review helpful
Incrementally advancing our understanding of behaviors,
This review is from: The (Honest) Truth About Dishonesty: How We Lie to Everyone---Especially Ourselves (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Program (What's this?)Finding a unique narrative angle when a book by the de-facto creator of the behavioral psychology field - Thinking, Fast and Slow is recently published is not an easy task. However, Ariely picks up from where he left off in his previous works - Predictably Irrational, Revised and Expanded Edition: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions and The Upside of Irrationality: The Unexpected Benefits of Defying Logic. This time the focus is on understanding behaviors related to (dis)honesty. While the framing that honesty is mostly a choice between benefit from cheating ("economic motivation") and psychological motivation may seem too simplistic in its assumption, Ariely provides interesting assertions and arguments to explore what kinds of triggers tend to increase or decrease honesty and what triggers tend to be neutral.
Ariely sets the stage by pointing out the limitations of the traditional Simple Model of Rational Crime that hinges on cost/benefit analyses and re-introducing the "fudge factor" from his earlier works. Using a mix of previously discussed experiments and a few new ones, he visits the role of honor codes, position of signatures, role of "tokens" to lead to an important insight central to this book that has potential implications for policy makers. This theme is further illustrated using golf as the context. Furthermore, using familiar examples from healthcare, financial services, he also revisits cognitive dissonance and the impact of biased incentives. This section in particular is not particularly new and readers may be better served on the discussion of cognitive loads and temptations in a Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness.
Discussions on the "slippery slope" - longer term impact of one transgression, the art of self-deception and the "storytelling" abilities used to rationalize make for some interesting reading. The cognitive reflective tests used to illustrate these points are mostly cliched, though (derivatives of lilies in a pond doubling, etc)
The last few chapters discussing the role of environment in cheating and what point does cheating in a particular context become "socially accepted" - are probably the standouts. He uses these chapters to lead to an excellent summary of the various behavioral levers in three categories (increase/decrease/neutral) on dishonesty and a sane take on the role of religion.
The difficulty of generalizing studies with small sample sizes in controlled environment is always a major challenge in this field - and the role of cultural differences. Ariely addresses this issue atleast in the relatively narrow domain of dishonesty. While someone familiar with the literature/pop books in this field is unlikely to find most of the findings dramatic - the incremental insights using some new and well-cited examples from previous books does help a reader develop a healthy skepticism on our own motivations that drive our actions.
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Mar 30, 2012 9:11:20 AM PDT
Great review, I see we have about the same opinion of this book.
Posted on Dec 12, 2012 3:02:24 PM PST
[Deleted by the author on Dec 15, 2012 7:08:39 PM PST]
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