Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Upside of Irrationality (10) by Ariely, Dan [Hardcover (2010)] Hardcover – 2010
|New from||Used from|
The Amazon Book Review
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
Customers who bought this item also bought
Customers who viewed this item also viewed
Browse award-winning titles. See more
Top customer reviews
The first half of the book covers motivation and incentives at work. Description of experiments is vivid, often presented from the perspective of the subjects in the experiments (ie rats and humans). The findings indeed provide useful lessons for employers, supervisors, as well as government. It is also a joy to read.
The second half covers the author's personal reflection and observation, as well as experiments to look into a mishmash of issues, such as revenge, online dating, adaptation to change, etc. The discussion is still interesting and enlightening. However, there is a tendency to be too brief on the statistical outcome of experiments. For example, instead of stating the proportion of subjects who responded in a certain manner, the author strays into using 'most' or 'many' in describing such proportions. I suspect that some of the experiments were performed some time ago, and it may be too cumbersome for the author to look up the actual data of these dated experiments. As such, his discussion appears rather less convincing.
In all, the book provides important lessons on the psychology of decisions. It also gives a reflective account of the personal pain that the author has suffered since sustaining horrific injuries as a teenager. A touching and instructive book.
But my enjoyment if them still eventually wears thin and I have to find some new music. Now I know what that's called - hedonic adaptation. It's why we stop loving that new car as soon as the new car smell is gone, and why we get used to new jobs, relationships and whatnot. It also works in reverse - you can get used to negative experiences like incarceration (from my experience, I can tell you that it's nightmarish at first, but eventually you get used to it; it becomes bearable).
I once heard that a miserable person who wins the lottery will still be miserable a year later, and a happy person who becomes a paraplegic will still be happy a year later. In "The Upside of Irrationality" by Dan Ariely, I read that someone actually did perform a study on hedonic adaptation using lottery winners and paraplegics.
They found that both groups were close to normal levels of life satisfaction a year later, and that such life-altering events do have a huge impact on happiness at first, but the effect usually wears off over time.
So what do we do? Do we spend our lives on the "hedonic treadmill" chasing illusions of happiness? Do we even know what will truly make us happy? Is it a new car, a new house, a new job, a new lover? A new song?
Review Written by David Allan Reeves
Author of "Running Away From Me"
No one ever admits to being irrational, yet we frequently witness irrational behavior in others. After reading the book, I'll have to begrudgingly admit that I'm not perfectly rational either !
Throughout the 11 chapters of the book, various premises are tested by designing some easy to measure field tests which challenge our assumptions about behavior. The book is segregated into two sections - the first on "Ways we Defy Logic at Work" (Chapters 1 through 5) and "Ways We Defy Logic at Home" (Chapters 6 through 10).
In Chapter 1, Ariely discusses the banking meltdown of 2008 and posits that huge bonuses don't work to incent better performance. There is plenty of actual and anecdotal evidence to support this idea. In Chapter 2, he discusses various situations and experiments that demonstrate how important it is to each of us to imbue meaning in our work and to have meaningful work. There is a deep interconnection between identity and labor. Chapter 3, "The Ikea Effect" describes why we are so much more attached to things that we helped to produce, rather than things we did not have a hand in - "labor begets love". The NIH (not invented here) syndrome is discussed in Chapter 4. The NIH factor is called the "toothbrush theory" - everyone wants one, everyone needs one, everyone has one, but no one wants to use anyone else's. Chapter 5 discusses the irrational behavior of revenge which is one of the deepest-seated instincts we have. Ariely wrote: "The threat of revenge can serve as an effective enforcement mechanism that supports social cooperation and order."
In Part II (defying logic at home), there are some very interesting chapters on adaptation - how we get used to things and rationalize both bad and good situations. The chapters on dating and online dating are quite fascinating. Chapters 9 and 10 cover empathy and emotion and why we are more motivated to donate to a single suffering individual than to a larger cause by which thousands or millions of people are affected.
The final chapter summarizes and encourages us to recognize the upside of irrationality: "some of the ways in which we are irrational are also what makes us wonderfully human."
"The Upside of Irrationality" is a very thought-provoking book written by a believable and articulate professional. Ariely has a very personal style, incorporating many incidents from his own life and his struggles with debilitating burn injuries in his youth that altered the course of his life and certainly affected his point of view. I highlighted many passages in my Kindle and suspect that I will be picking up this book again from time to time to reread the highlights.