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The Upside of Irrationality: The Unexpected Benefits of Defying Logic at Work and at Home 1st Edition
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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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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
Top customer reviews
This is a great book. Very well written, simple, in a conversational style (just like how he talked in the videos). Each chapter starts with an anecdote, then talks about theories and experiments, and usually contains more anecdotes from his/ colleagues/ friends' personal lives. Over all you get a pleasant feeling reading this stuff - nothing dry and boring about it - and it all makes sense and is logically explained. If you enjoy reading about behaviour and people, this is a good choice.
I liked the first part of the book better than the second part. Maybe that's because part 1 was about companies and interactions with others and that's an area I like better.
If you are after a book thats to the point and doesn't waste time, this is not for you. Like I said, the author goes on with anecdotes and personal experiences and so you got to be in a mindframe to enjoy these too. I enjoyed all that, plus all the experiements and their result and his discussion on them, so it's all 5 stars for me!
One of the first concepts he discusses is the idea of the HEDONISTIC TREADMILL or the idea of keeping up with the Jones philosophy which in large part resulted in our present economic mess. As part of this concept the author discusses HEDONISTIC ADAPTATION in which people perform certain activities to either maximize their pleasure or reduce their pain. Intuitively we might think that if we were trying to study and our partner were running the vacuum, we would want that person to complete part of the cleaning,then quit for a while, do a little more and quit again, but that is not what the experimental results showed. We tend to build up an adaptation to an unpleasurable activity as it progresses and if it is stopped we lose that adaptation and must work harder to build up the adaptation a succeeding time[s] , so that in this case if would be better if the person continued with the unpleasurable activity until completed, another example of that might be completing your income tax return in one sitting rather than spreading it out over several days. The corollary to that is that it is better to break up a pleasurable activity into smaller portions to savor its effects for a longer period of time. An example of that might be sex; for that I can refer you to the Alan Jackson song in which the refrain goes "Nothing left to do after we done it!"
The author also discusses concepts as people with certain levels of attractiveness seek partners of approximately equal levels of attractiveness, although a caveat is made that women are more forgiving on physical levels of partners attractiveness than are men. There are still a lot more men rated a 4 trying to hook up with a female 10 than a woman who is 4 believing she is going to find the 10 male.
Another topic reviewed was can we really act rationally in a fit of anger and, if in such an angry state, how does it affect our ideas of fairness and unfairness [revenge] towards many other people not just the person we think caused us pain. These are just a few of the topics discussed out of many interesting areas.
As others have mentioned and as has the author, he was severely injured as a young soldier due to a bomb blast and suffered some permanent scarring and limited range of motion from it, yet he overcame that and turned his life into a worthwhile endeavor in spite of injuries both physical and psychological and I speak as someone who interned at a VA hospital during the Viet Nam war, so am familiar with such wounds. It is obvious from the ease with which he discusses his various topics that he is learned and intelligent which is also supported by the fact that he was a professor at MIT and now a professor at Duke. As a disclaimer, I have never met nor talked to the author, but simply liked the book and think you will too.