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The Upside of Irrationality: The Unexpected Benefits of Defying Logic at Work and at Home Hardcover – Bargain Price, June 1, 2010

4.5 out of 5 stars 620 ratings

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Ariely (Predictably Irrational) expands his research on behavioral economics to offer a more positive and personal take on human irrationality's implications for life, business, and public policy. After a youthful accident left him badly scarred and facing grueling physical therapy, Ariely's treatment required him to accept temporary pain for long-term benefit—a trade-off so antithetical to normal human behavior that it sparked the author's fascination with why we consistently fail to act in our own best interest. The author, professor of behavioral economics at Duke, leads us through experiments that reveals such idiosyncrasies as the IKEA effect (if you build something, pride and sentimental attachment are likely to give you an inflated sense of its quality) and the Baby Jessica effect (why we respond to one person's suffering but not to the suffering of many). He concludes with prescriptions for how to make real personal and societal changes, and what behavioral patterns we must identify to improve how we love, live, work, innovate, manage, and govern. Self-deprecating humor, an enthusiasm for human eccentricities, and an affable and snappy style make this read an enriching and eye-opening pleasure. (June)
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From Booklist

In Predictably Irrational (2008), Ariely explored the reasons why human beings frequently put aside common sense and why bad things often happen when they do. Here, in this equally entertaining and clever follow-up, Ariely shows us the other side of the irrationality coin: the beneficial outcomes and pleasant surprises that often arise from irrational behavior. Although pleasant should be taken as a relative term, since the outcomes are not necessarily pleasant for the person who was behaving irrationally. Take, for example, Thomas Edison’s obsession with DC current, and his irrational hatred of AC: trying to prove how dangerous AC was, he inadvertently—with his development of the electric chair—demonstrated to the world how powerful it could be. Ariely is an engaging and efficient writer, amusing us with stories about irrational behavior while staying away from needless technical terminology and bafflegab. Thought-provoking, entertaining, and smart: a winning combination. --David Pitt
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Product details

  • ASIN ‏ : ‎ B004NSVE50
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Harper; 1st edition (June 1, 2010)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Hardcover ‏ : ‎ 352 pages
  • Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 1.15 pounds
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 6.13 x 1.13 x 9 inches
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.5 out of 5 stars 620 ratings

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Dan Ariely is the Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Behavioral Economics at MIT. His work has been featured in leading scholarly journals as well as a variety of popular media outlets, including the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Boston Globe, Business 2.0, Scientific American, and Science. He has also been featured on CNN and National Public Radio. Dan publishes widely in the leading scholarly journals in economics, psychology, and business. His work has been featured in a variety of media including The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Boston Globe, Business 2.0, Scientific American, Science and CNN. He splits his time between Princeton, NJ, and Cambridge, MA.

Customer reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5
620 global ratings

Top reviews from the United States

Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on July 28, 2010
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Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on May 22, 2013
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Top reviews from other countries

Nick Michelioudakis
5.0 out of 5 stars A Review - for Educators
Reviewed in the United Kingdom 🇬🇧 on July 14, 2016
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Review - for Educators
Reviewed in the United Kingdom 🇬🇧 on July 14, 2016
If anything, Professor Ariely’s second book is even better than the first. Starting with ordinary incidents from real life he proceeds to describe his research and gradually the principle in each chapter crystallises. Then he considers the applications of this in various domains. Here are a few of his discoveries:
‘We overvalue our work’ (p. 83). People who were taught origami and shown how to construct paper cranes or frogs, judged their creations as a lot more valuable than other people did. The implications for teachers are huge: project work of all kinds is a lot better than getting students to do endless exercises – the latter are not something they can take pride in, as they feel their contribution is too small (see also: YouTube: Psychology and ELT – The IKEA Effect).
‘Having created something, we want people to see it’ (p. 53). In a fantastic experiment, people told to construct Lego robots lost interest a lot faster when the robots were dismantled as soon as they had completed them than when they were told they would be disassembled later. The moral: although students may get all the linguistic benefits from having their essay/story marked and returned, in terms of motivation it makes a huge difference for us to display it in class (see also: YouTube: Psychology and ELT – The Pursuit of Meaning).
‘We prefer our own ideas to those of others’ (p. 107). In an amazing study, subjects favoured the ideas they had generated themselves, even when it was in fact the researchers who had given them these ideas in sentences a little while earlier! The moral for us is clear: rather than assigning H/W for instance, why not ask the students themselves what they would think it would be best for the class to do? (see also: YouTube: Psychology and ELT – The NIH Bias).
‘Short-term emotions can have long-term effects’ (p. 257). Here is how it works: we may be angry with our partner one day; we go to class; we snap at the students and we are unusually strict with them; the lesson is a failure. Later we reflect on the experience. Are we honest with ourselves? Of course not! Instead we try to justify our behaviour telling ourselves that we displayed the necessary firmness. But this ‘narrative’ actually impacts on our future behaviour; next time we are far more likely to be strict again! (A clear warning to all of us there... - see also: YouTube: Psychology and ELT – Emotions).
OK – here is my favourite, discovery: ‘habituation: we get used to things’ (p. 157). And now for the amazing, counter-intuitive implication for maximising satisfaction: ‘Pleasant activities – break them up; unpleasant ones – just get them over with’! So tell your partner, it makes sense to stop that massage every 2 min or so and then start all over again! :-)
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Laura Palmer
3.0 out of 5 stars and some of the arguments are pretty well constructed
Reviewed in the United Kingdom 🇬🇧 on July 18, 2016
2 people found this helpful
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N. Leal
5.0 out of 5 stars Worth reading!
Reviewed in the United Kingdom 🇬🇧 on January 12, 2020
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Reader
1.0 out of 5 stars The 3i book: irrational, irritating and irrelevant
Reviewed in the United Kingdom 🇬🇧 on November 17, 2017
2 people found this helpful
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Jude
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating, and easy to read - even for the non-economist
Reviewed in the United Kingdom 🇬🇧 on December 9, 2013
One person found this helpful
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