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Misbehaving: The Making of Behavioral Economics Hardcover – May 11, 2015
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“Highly enjoyable…dense with fascinating examples…. It is long past time to replace Econs with Humans, both in theory and in the practice of prediction.” (Carol Tavris - Wall Street Journal)
“In Misbehaving, [Thaler] offers a dryly humorous history of the revolution he helped ignite, as well as a useful (if sometimes challenging) primer on its key concepts.” (Julia M. Klein - Chicago Tribune)
“[A] masterful, readable account of behavioral economics. Very well done.” (David Wessel, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, author of Red Ink and Ben Bernanke’s War on the Great Panic)
“[Misbehaving] is bound to become a classic. Now established as one of the great figures in the history of economic thought, Thaler has no predecessors. A rebel with a cause…[w]here he wins Olympic gold is in keen observation; his greatest insights come from actually looking.” (Cass Sunstein - New Rambler)
“Odd and interesting…. It's odd because it's funnier and more personal than books by professors tend to be. It's interesting because it tells the story not just of Thaler's career but also of the field of behavioral economics―the study of actual human beings rather than the rational optimizers of classical economic theory.” (Michael Lewis - Bloomberg View)
“Entertaining…. An excellent read on the shortcomings of classical economic and finance theory.” (Ronald L. Moy, CFA Institute)
“The creative genius who invented the field of behavioral economics is also a master storyteller and a very funny man. All these talents are on display in this wonderful book.” (Daniel Kahneman, winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics and author of Thinking, Fast and Slow)
“Misbehaving gives us the story behind some of the most important insights in modern economics. If I had to be trapped in an elevator with any contemporary intellectual, I’d pick Richard Thaler.” (Malcolm Gladwell)
“Richard Thaler has been at the center of the most important revolution to happen in economics in the last thirty years. In this captivating book, he lays out the evidence for behavioral economics and explains why there was so much resistance to it. Read Misbehaving. There is no better guide to this new and exciting economics.” (Robert J. Shiller, winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics and author of Finance and the Good Society)
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Top Customer Reviews
The field is not as new as Thaler would have you think. There’s bias in this account and it is a bias against those among his predecessors who tried to explain human behavior in a way that was consistent with mainstream economic theory. I’m thinking Gary Becker here (who tried to explain long lines outside empty clubs and packed cheap restaurants alike using an “upward sloping demand curve” and famously sat down to write a paper on suicide when his wife took her own life); I’m thinking the very same Robert Barro that Thaler makes fun of when he describes him as the smartest man ever, but who nonetheless made me understand in his book “Getting it Right” why superstars could get paid so much in a zero-sum game and got confirmation to his theory when Maradona was paid more than the rest of his team, Napoli, put together, and justifiably so because he not only took them to the Campionato, but also thwarted much more fancied teams from winning it.
Thaler’s predecessors operated in a world where most Economics books had to start with a chapter explaining why Economics is a science. Of course they had to stick to the utility-maximizing / profit-maximizing orthodoxy! Besides, orthodox economic theory was not all that shabby when it came to predicting human behavior.Read more ›
Misbehaving is a thoroughly enjoyable read, both comprehensive and replete with historical context, but "neither a treatise nor a polemic" as prefaced by Thaler. Instead, it is a memoir and a chronological history on the rise of behavioral economics as a legitimate discipline, making it an excellent introduction to the field. The book is lengthy, an un-lazy 358 pages, but an easy read because of Thaler's self-deprecating style and numerous examples that are both funny and informative (like oenophile mental accounting). My favorite illustrative anecdote, however, was the kerfuffle that ensued among the "efficient market" professors at the University of Chicago when it came time to hold a lottery on allocating offices in their new academic building - hilarious.
I got hooked on behavioral economics almost 20 years ago at a conference held on the topic at Harvard's Kennedy School, featuring Richard Thaler, Richard Zeckhauser, Arnie Wood and others. The seeds planted from that fascinating seminar led me to be a lifelong student of this emerging, multi-disciplinary field and the importance of metacognition - quite literally, thinking about thinking. For an alcoholic, admitting you have a problem is the first step towards recovery. Analogously, it is impossible to temper evolutionarily prewired heuristics and biases unless you have studied them - and even then, it is too easy to 'fall off the wagon.Read more ›
As for the omissions, perhaps the most significant relates to what Thaler considers the most important aim of behavioral economics, the gathering of evidence about actual human behavior. There is a relative inattention to field or natural exercises compared to laboratory economics--though the importance of the latter is acknowledged briefly towards the end of the book. A second, and more important shortcoming, is the failure to note the potential of asking decision makers to explain why they made certain decisions; this is being undertaken successfully by Truman Bewley, and is now being given more attention by several of the empirically oriented economists cited in the book. A third is that the "libertarian paternalistic" nudging which has led employees to increase their rate of saving, may not be the best that they could do, which is now being emphasized by others that Thaler also cites. Perhaps a second edition of The Making of Behavioral Economics will take note of these points.
These are minor problems, however. We have a major debt to Richard Thaler for all that he has contributed to the field and for his ability to explain everything in a manner that is really a pleasure to read.
Hugh Schwartz (a behavioral economist)
Most Recent Customer Reviews
While I love the book, the anecdotes, the scholarship, and pioneering spirit in the field of behavioral psychology – I truly despise the socialistic application and propagation of... Read morePublished 3 days ago by Allen Licht
A well documented text explaining why classical economic is so classically wrong.
Econs, those supposedly rationally acting players in all classical economic theory simply... Read more
Excellent book reviewing both the concepts and the history of behavioral economy. Very accessible to interested readers who are not economists.Published 4 days ago by SD
Challenge to the Efficient Market Theory was well done, but the rest of the book meanders with far too many snarky comments; must be tough to know it all.Published 9 days ago by Tom Cross
Misbehaving is an interesting presentation about a subject that many non-specialists could find rather dry, namely behavioral economics. Read morePublished 20 days ago by Trevor Leitch
Changed my understanding of how the world really works and explained many of the anomalies I have felt before. No longer think of people as pure EconsPublished 27 days ago by Timur
Well written and gives a good summery of what, where, and why behavioral economics is relevant. A good read for the economically trained and untrained reader.Published 1 month ago by stephen
Really interesting read. Richard Thaler and several of his peers combined the study of economics with psychology and sociology in a way that was truly novel at the time. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Megan