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Customer Review

313 of 346 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Welcome to the fuzzy world of being human., February 19, 2008
This review is from: Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions (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. Dan provides excellent dinner-party insights, but they apply to our real world and explain why so many poor decisions are made - whether by customers or by the 'rational' business people who make million-dollar decisions.

- Recommended companion book: Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness here one of the godfathers of behavioural economics discusses the way we can manage the "choice architecture" in our world.
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Showing 1-7 of 7 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Feb 25, 2008 6:39:05 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Mar 30, 2008 6:27:36 AM PDT
Humble says:
Yes, Dan does give examples of situations and behaviors that seem anomalous or counter-intuitive but he does not give good reasons for why he considers them anomalous. Many behaviors are indeed rational from classical economics perspective when on takes into account the transaction costs of the alternatives, which Dan ignores, completely.

In February, I posted my comments on the author's own website for this book. First, he replied, in the discussion forum, that I made some good points. A couple of days later, he deleted the discussion forum, including my comments. Go figure. So, I decided to write a review and post it here on Amazon and on other websites, where they cannot be deleted by Dan, unilaterally. I think, he has the option to offer his rebuttal to critiques, at sites like Amazon, although I am not sure. You may want to reconsider your opinion.

Posted on Apr 1, 2008 1:00:24 PM PDT
[Deleted by the author on Apr 1, 2008 1:00:39 PM PDT]

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 1, 2008 5:36:01 PM PDT
I also just read this book and some of the "flaws" pointed out by this writer are just not valid. For example, the case of the "free" candy. While one of the experiments was done where change was required (thereby making it possible that the results was due to not wanting to look for change) the experiment was also done at a school cafeteria line where the person was paying for other food at the same time and the results was the same- going from 1 cent to "free" greatly increased the chance that someone would choose "free" over the higher quality chocolate. In addition, I could see myself doing exactly the same things- how many times have I purchased expensive make-up because there was a "free" package also included, even though often I used little or none of the "free stuff" (and certainly didn't need it). I don't think the experiments were flawed- all experiments can be debated as to whether they are "perfect" or not.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 3, 2008 9:48:25 PM PDT
D. Stuart says:
Hi Jane,

I think the experiments in Dan's books often suffer from smallish sample sizes, and yes, they're conducted amongst skinny samples of society - Harvard Students for example - but that doesn't invalidate their underlying truths. The work of Kahneman & Tversky (who pioneered in this area of human behaviour) was also based on similar studies - but the experiments still consistently highlight our human foibles - why we "buy high and sell low" for example, when rationality suggests we should do the opposite. (The key: selling when our shares dip is like owning up to failure.) And Jane, me too on the "free-stuff" clearly the ploy works.

The book is pretty relaxed in tone, and that's why I use the dinner party metaphor - its about ideas that get us talking. In my own field of market research I've employed a lot of these ideas (I'm a fan of Kahneman & Tversky) to help understand why shopper sometimes defy the strategies set out by my clients. "What's the matter with these shoppers?" Answer: They're human. Thanks Jane.

Posted on Jun 25, 2008 8:18:22 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jul 4, 2008 7:33:37 PM PDT
K. Gilligan says:
Unless you are on, I believe that that user has stolen your review for this book and posted it as their own. I'm a fellow reviewer and found one of my reviews word for word under that user's name. I've reported the matter to ebay but have gotten no response. A quick google check of some of the user's other reviews brought up the reviews- including yours. I just thought you would want to be aware of this issue. Your copied review can be seen at the link below.


If you want to remove your review from's reviews, you need to fill out and fax this VERO form: The number is at the top of the page. You should then get an email confirmation. After that you may get an email saying they can't find your review. You may have to confirm the link to your review on ebay, and on amazon.

At this time ONE person has succeeded in having her review removed from edson's reviews. I hope that number will go up! Spread the word!

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 14, 2008 11:30:50 PM PDT
D. Stuart says:
Hi K Gilligan - yeah, they sure stole it. And I see they are an eBay "Top 100 Reviewer" - no doubt from this practice. Shabby really. I had an ainitial attempt to get the offending review off eBay but unlike Amazon who are quite responsive, eBay really only wants to know if somebody is bad at delivering the goods they sell. I'll give it another go however: there's a point of principle at stake really. At University we got it so drummed inot us to 'cite our sources' that these days I cannot even tell a lame joke without footnoting where I heard it, who delivered it and what the context was. I probably make the joke even more lame, but my conscience is clean. Thanks K.


In reply to an earlier post on Dec 14, 2010 2:19:57 AM PST
two in tents says:
[Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion. Show post anyway. Show all unhelpful posts.]
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