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Sway: The Irresistible Pull of Irrational Behavior Paperback – June 2, 2009
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Praise for SWAY*
"A breathtaking book that will challenge your every thought, Sway hovers above the intersection of Blink and Freakonomics."--Tom Rath, coauthor of the New York Times #1 bestseller How Full Is Your Bucket?
“Now we know why no one ever coined the phrase ‘rational exuberance.’ Behind the surprising ways we all make choices, the Brafmans find biology, humanity, and the wisdom of our collective experience. As a longtime student of how financial decisions are made, I found their insights utterly fascinating. Once I started reading, I couldn’t stop—and I suspect the Brafmans could tell you exactly why!”
--Sallie Krawcheck, CEO, Citi Global Wealth Management
"Count me swayed--but in this instance by the pull of entirely rational forces. Ori and Rom Brafman have done a terrific job of illuminating deep-seated tendencies that skew our behavior in ways that can range from silly to deadly. We'd be fools not to learn what they have to teach us."--Robert B. Cialdini, author of New York Times bestseller Influence
—Klaus Schwab, chairman of the World Economic Forum
"A page-turner of an investigation into how our minds work . . . and trick us. Think you behave rationally? Read this book first."--Timothy Ferriss, author of the New York Times #1 bestseller The 4-Hour Workweek
"Sway helped me recognize an aspect of irrational behavior in my experimental work in physics. Sometimes I have jumped into some research that didn't feel quite right . . . but some irrational lure, such as the hope of quick success, pulled me in."--Martin L. Perl, 1995 Nobel Laureate in Physics
*DISCLAIMER: If you decide to buy this book because of these endorsements, you just got swayed. One of the psychological forces you’ll read about in Sway is our tendency to place a higher value on opinions from people in positions of prominence, power, or authority.
(But you should still buy the book.)
"If you think you know how you think, you'd better think again! Take this insightful, delightful trip to the sweet spot where economics, psychology, and sociology converge, and you'll discover how our all-too-human minds actually work."--Alan M. Webber, founding editor of Fast Company magazine
About the Author
Ori Brafman is coauthor of The Starfish and the Spider and is a renowned organizational expert who regularly speaks before Fortune 500, governmental, and military audiences. A graduate of Stanford Business School, he lives in San Francisco.
Rom Brafman holds a Ph.D. in psychology and has taught university courses in personality and personal growth. His current research interests focus on the dynamics of interpersonal relationships. He has a private practice in Palo Alto, California.
Top customer reviews
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Compare and contrast that with the decision of a seasoned 747 pilot to abandon his safety checklist in order to save time and reputation. What could have possibly driven a man as seasoned and programmed as the computer sitting in front of you now, to disregard his own programming?
Very little about the human condition can be ascertained from the examples presented in this book other than, as worldly and self aware of our surroundings that we think we may be, human perception is actually very poor and significantly limited in scope. Since we are resourced constrained we tend to take the first information that we assess as necessary for our survival and filter out the rest. Which is why a first impression, will always have the biggest impact on us. No matter where that first impression originates. Once our brain does the filtering...it doesn't want to go back and reclassify the information...that's hard work. Once we are swayed there is almost no turning back.
You could read all the neuro physcology books in the world and not come up with a better explanation for why it happens...why the irrational decisions shape our human existence. Take skydiving for instance. Unless you have a burning desire to jump out of a perfectly good airplane I doubt anyone would be able to talk you into it. Even when you've convinced yourself the odds are pretty good that you will survive the drop, it's not the odds that count. No matter how safely you prepare, no matter how many facts you read about the safety of the sport, diving out the door of an airplane at 10,000 feet is not a natural act. Plummeting through the wind at up to 200 mph is simply something that our human bodies have never considered at any time during evolutionary development. Thus, only from the irrational, can we arrive at a decision to do so.
We cannot change our irrational side. Nor should we. Through stories, not science, books like Sway give us a deeper understanding that our irrational side is real. It's our instincts that have kept us alive for 10,000 years. Therefore it's not the irresistible pull of irrational behavior that gives us a story. The real story is why can't rational behavior win in the big the tug of war going on in our brain. In small ways, understanding that which makes us human, helps us to recognize the times when we are inhuman, as with a corporate decision to lay-off 10,000 employees to balance the spreadsheet, or at a time when we need to invoke our inhuman side, like when being in command of a 747 jumbo jet and making a decision to take off in a dense fog. We've got the ability to use both sides of our brain. The trick is to decide which one it's time to use. "Sway" gives us examples of situations where we should at least consider both sides. Four Stars for a very easy read with very good stories as examples...very similar in style Gladwell.
The book is very short, but entertaining enough in its own way. I didn't hate it, I just don't feel that it lived up to the potential of its subject.
This is a book for everyone, and I highly recommend it in the audio version because the reader is excellent as well. But be forewarned that I found myself sitting in parking lots replaying parts of chapters.
In my opinion, an socio-economic, social-psychological classic. This volume is jam-packed with keen insights about human behavior. Irrational tendencies endure like mold - they grow in the damp darkness of our existence. Ori and Rom Brafman turn the light switch on and examine the realities that are inhabiting the recesses of human perception, judgment and value-attribution. As they point out:
Once we attribute a certain value to a person or thing, it dramatically alters our perceptions of subsequent information. This power of value attribution is so potent that it affects us even when the value is assigned completely arbitrarily." (p. 55)
They go on to illuminate what they refer to as the "diagnosis bias" or:
"our propensity to label people, ideas or things based on our initial opinions of them -- and our inability to reconsider those judgments once we've made them. (p.70).
This work blends into the new thinking that appears to be oozing from the field of macroeconomics from sources like Shiller and Akerlof, as well as the work of Nassim Nicholas Taleb. As the Brafman's write:
"It's all about keeping valuations tentative instead of certain, learning to be comfortable with complex, sometimes contradictory information, and taking your time considering things from different angles before coming to a conclusion." (p.178)
A superb contribution - providing encouragement to those charged with expanding the boundaries of what we think we know -- and the appreciation we must resurrect for exploring the frontiers of the unknown.