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Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions
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Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions

4.08  ·  Rating Details  ·  55,349 Ratings  ·  3,133 Reviews
Why do our headaches persist after taking a one-cent aspirin but disappear when we take a 50-cent aspirin?

Why does recalling the Ten Commandments reduce our tendency to lie, even when we couldn't possibly be caught?

Why do we splurge on a lavish meal but cut coupons to save twenty-five cents on a can of soup?

Why do we go back for second helpings at the unlimited buffet, eve
Hardcover, 280 pages
Published February 19th 2008 by HarperCollins Canada (first published February 19th 2007)
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Best Non-Fiction (non biography)
55th out of 3,885 books — 5,720 voters
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Community Reviews

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Petra X
Mar 17, 2016 Petra X rated it liked it
Recommended to Petra X by: riku sayuj
“I asked them why when they persecute men, for religion or colour it was seen by the world as oppression and when they persecute women, it was dismissed as tradition.” Emer Martin

This book is generally brilliant if you ignore the misogyny. It is a book written by a man about a man's world for men. The "Our' in the title does not include half the world.

The misogny, the putting down of fat women, ugly ones, old ones in this often otherwise insightful and percipient book is making me groan. The a
Oct 09, 2008 Trevor rated it it was amazing
It is important that you move this one up your list of books that you have to read. This is a particularly great book. My dear friend Graham recommended I read this book. He has recommended four books to me – and the only one I couldn’t finish was “My Cousin, My Gastroenterologist: A novel” by Mark Leyler – but he did recommend, “The Tetherballs of Bougainville” also by Leyler and that is still one of the most remarkable books I’ve ever read. I haven't written a review of that book, but where th ...more
Riku Sayuj
Jan 15, 2014 Riku Sayuj rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Nishant Singh
Written in the tried-and-tested and bestselling tradition of the Malcolm Gladwell books and the Frekonomics clones, Dan Ariely's book too is an entertaining and counter-intuitive look at the world around us.

While I am getting more and more inured to this way of analysis of behavioral economics and physchology, these kinds of books are still hard to resist - that is because they do, no matter if they have now become an industry doling out similiar books by the dozens, still stretch our perspecti
Sep 28, 2008 Mary rated it it was ok
This book was somewhat entertaining, but I can't really recommend it. The author does experiments with college students and beer, and extrapolates this into a world view. Most of his applications are anecdotal.
Here's an example on p. 215: "Iran is another example of a nation stricken by distrust. An Iranian student at MIT told me that business there lacks a platform of trust. Because of this, no one pays in advance, no one offers credit, and no one is willing to take risks. People must hire with
Mar 24, 2008 David rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-in-2008
All classic economic theories are based on the assumption that consumers behave rationally, despite a considerable body of evidence to the contrary. It is only in the last 25 years that economists have begun to investigate the irrational side of consumer behavior. This field of investigation, which started with the pioneering work of Tversky and Kahneman, is usually referred to as behavioral economics.

Dan Ariely's book, "Predictably Irrational", offers a clear and comprehensive overview of thi
Yet another book I'm recommending to Goodreads staff. I will write up a long review when it's done, but I think this is worth chewing on:

According to the author of Predictably Irrational, we live simultaneous in the world of social norms and the world of market norms. Social norms are the exchanges and requests we make as part of personal connections. Market norms are the dollar-defined exchanges of dollars, wages, rents, prices. Here's where it gets interesting:

"In the lasts few decades, compan
Feb 21, 2016 Caroline rated it it was amazing
This is a wonderfully interesting and amusing book. Every time I had a few spare minutes, I would leap back into it with gusto. Some of the things I read I had already seen elsewhere - but much was new to me. The author is described as a behavioural economist.....and I think this book would interest anyone who is interested in psychology.

This book is tops. There are enough reviews here singing its praises already. I shall simply end with some notes for my own record(view spoiler)
As a social psychologist, I have been trained to scoff at all "behavioral economists" because they often claim to have recently discovered that individuals do not always behave "rationally". Furthermore, they seem to brilliantly deduce that the only way to accurately predict how humans actually behave is to test behavior/decision making empirically. Of course, social psychologists have been doing this for over half a century without much public fanfare or guest spots on "MSNBC" or "CNN" every ti ...more
Jun 23, 2008 Darin rated it it was ok
Ariely is a good writer whose book catches onto the _Freakonomics_ craze by taking a look at times when people make different decisions that typical "laissez faire" economic theories would expect. His book is a fairly easy read and does include some surprising results through social-science experimentation.

However, the text is not without its flaws. For instance, some of the breathlessly-reported "surprising" results aren't all that surprising or even controversial. For instance, the effect of
Aug 01, 2008 Jamie rated it it was amazing
It's only about the middle of the year, but I think Dan Ariely's Predictably Irrational is a shoe-in for my favorite non-fiction book of 2008. When I was studying psychology one of my favorite topics was judgment and decision-making, which dealt in large part with the kinks in the human mind that could lead us to irrational behavior and decisions. Why are you likely to pay more for something if you are shown a large number completely unrelated to the price? Why do people who read words like "eld ...more
Jul 13, 2008 Greg rated it really liked it
Here are just a few tidbit's I've learned:

-If you're ever going to a bar, trying to score a little bit of lovin', bring a friend who looks very similar to you - only a little uglier. That way you'll look like the ideal candidate, not just compared to your friend but to everyone else there.

-People are more likely to steal things once removed from cash than cash - ie. the Enron crew who stole millions of dollars from the retirement pensions of little old ladies, but would they ever have snatched 1
May 06, 2011 Verycleanteeth rated it really liked it

Explores the ability of a decoy option to determine outcomes.
(The economist subscription, travel to rome or france w/free breakfast)

Our first experience becomes our anchor point that future instances are pegged to and rebound towards like a rubber band.

Anchor points are hard to change, but new anchor points can be created wholecloth by giving people a new experience (starbucks vs. dunkin donuts)

The power of FREE! to disguise the actual cost we pay. The difference between 0 and 1 is
Jul 09, 2009 Kathrynn rated it really liked it
If I had to describe Predictably Irrational using two words they would be "thought provoking." The author is a professor who was injured in an explosion in Israel. He suffered severe burns and 5 years of therapy. He used this "down time" to ponder the why's and how come's of life. Using many experiments he (and others) tested the moral aptitude and other aspects of human behavior.

Each chapter has several experiments that pertain to a topic.

Chapter 1: The Truth about Relativity: Why Everything
Feb 10, 2012 Laura rated it really liked it
There’s a generalization that people make that really gets me. It’s the idea that people naturally prefer or practice competition over collaboration or cooperation. Usually this is said as a way to dismiss addressing inequalities in America and to explain why capitalism is the only choice. Socialism or any hybrid economic system is doomed. Doomed! There are several reasons the acceptance of individual competition over striving for the group’s overall well-being seems to be a social norm rather t ...more
Jackie "the Librarian"
Nov 07, 2008 Jackie "the Librarian" rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Another book that looks at human behavior, and how we don't behave logically even when we are sure we do. This follows the same well-worn path of Sway, Freakonomics, and Blink, and after having read those, there wasn't a lot new here.
Yes, humans see credit differently than cash. Ariely uses that premise to show how easy it is for companies such as Enron to steal vast sums without feeling the same as a mugger taking money from an old lady's purse, despite the end result being the same.
People are
Mar 25, 2016 Huzeyfe rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Yine müthiş bir kitap. Aslında daha önceki kitaplar kadar tam bana hitap etmiyor. Daha çok tüketici ve satıcı iliskileri üzerinde dönen bölümler var ama kitabı da sırf buna indirgemek haksızlık olabilir.

En çok etkilendiğim bölüm karar verme mekanizmamızda izafiyet kavramının önemi ve çıpa kavramını açıkladığı yer diyebilirim. Mesela:

"Ne kadar çok şeyimiz olursa, o kadar çok şey isteriz. Ve tek çare izafiyet döngüsünü kırmaktır."

Bunu çok sevmiştim. Bir de şu bölüm:

"Etrafımızdaki dünyaya baktığım
Apr 03, 2008 MattA rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
A thought-provoking book on behavioral economics. Why do we make the choices that we do? What is our motivation? Why are seemingly irrational choices made over and over? The author's natural, readable style allows the laymen easy access to his academic research and the conclusions he draws on these topics. I especially liked the author's basic emprical approach. There isn't hardly a proposition or theory in the book that hasn't been tested via experiment.

I don't agree that everything the author
Jun 18, 2011 K rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Malcolm Gladwell and Freakonomics fans
As you can tell from the title, this book gives us a needed reality check when it comes to our belief that we are making rational decisions. Ariely writes engagingly and informatively about the various unwitting errors we make, from finding an option more attractive simply because of its proximity to a less attractive version of it (note to realtors: if you want to sell someone a particular house, show the prospective buyers a similar and slightly inferior one) to overvaluing something because w ...more
Apr 06, 2008 Yulia rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Besides being a prolific researcher, Ariely is a very lucid writer and he's good at explaining the logic behind his study designs and the broader implications of their results. I just find it amusing that MIT classifies him as a behavioral economist when in any other university he'd be a member of the psychology department (like the other academics whose work he cites).

On a somewhat tangential note, he lists the Ten Commandments in an appendix (after noting a study on how listing as many as you
Mar 25, 2009 Alison rated it did not like it
reads like an extended, slightly dumbed down USA today article.
Subrahmanyam Muramalla
Mar 02, 2014 Subrahmanyam Muramalla rated it really liked it
Short review
Reading this book may not make us more rational in our behavior. The least it does is to help us identify our abilities and inabilities. In short our limitations in a given context. Gradually with the awareness of our limitations, we can be relatively more rational. Be a better judge for others, since it is relatively easy to judge others and eventually a better person ourselves.

Relativity is everywhere and in everything. The other day I heard my cousin's(say John) wife saying
Sujeet Gholap
Sep 03, 2014 Sujeet Gholap rated it it was amazing
An eye opener! Full of insights and materials for you to brood over.

"Blink" vs "Predictably Irrational"
I was in awe of Blink: The Power of Thinking without Thinking. Well, take the sensationalism out of it, add more scientific rigor, and you get "Predictably Irrational". This isn't to say that the topics handled are the same.

Dan Ariely covers a pretty wide range of topics varying from the appeal of all things free to how 'good' and 'honest' people cheat when the cheating is just 'a little
Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist"
"Sigmund Freud explained it this way. He said that as we grow up in society, we internalize the social virtues. This internalization leads to the development of the superego. In general, the superego is pleased when we comply with society's ethics, and unhappy when we don't. This is why we stop our car and four a.m. when we see a red light, even if we know that no one is around; and it is why we get a warm feeling when we return a lost wallet to its owner, even if our identity is never revealed. ...more
Jan 13, 2016 May rated it it was amazing
Recently I am drawn into books about psychology. Making sense of human behaviors is such an interesting thing, which eventually led me to this book about behavioral economics.

Starting from a personal revelation, Dan Ariely does not only observe and give explainations. His process includes:

- Give a question.
- Do many experiments to see how different factors influence it.
- Bring out the psychology behind it.

Questions mentioned in this books can be referred to many circumstances and even though as
Aug 10, 2011 Brian rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Brian by: Dan Ariely (at True University)
(4.0) Interesting, not really comparable to Freakonomics, but if you're so inclined, it's much better

I most enjoy that Ariely bases this book on actual experiments in behavioral economics, not just analyzing data. Each chapter is pretty formulaic: some anecdote or "imagine you are..." kind of scenario, then the "So we decided to try an experiment". Then he tells of the experiment, using a specific subject by name, telling about the counterintuitive thing that he or she did. Then he explains that
Mai Anh
Apr 12, 2016 Mai Anh rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Dễ hiểu, đơn giản, ko mang nặng tính học thuật ngược lại có hơi hướng ứng dụng thực tế. Viết về hành vi con người, theo kiểu hài hước, dễ đọc nhưng cũng cung cấp nhiều thông tin bổ ích: kinh doanh, luật, tiêu dùng, y tế, chính sách, tình dục và các vấn đề xã hội khác...
Đánh giá 5/5
Aug 21, 2014 Mohan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone who is not yet aware of cognitive biases
This was an excellent introduction to behavioural economics. Similar to The Art of thinking clearly, it helps one understand the cognitive biases one faces on a regular basis and see through them.

I give this four stars because the statistical significance of the figures in the chapter on honesty is somewhat suspect. The significance of 36.2 correct answers when cheating is possible, as opposed to 35.9 appears somewhat flimsy. I would like to know the p-value of that test. Nevertheless, it is a p
Sep 29, 2013 Carly rated it liked it
Recommends it for: readers interested in fun, engaging stories from behavioral economics
Recommended to Carly by: my rational self
Because this book is shaped by Dr. Ariely's experiences and research, I'm afraid that any review I could write would end up being mainly about the author. Since this isn't an autobiography, such a review might be against the impressively subjective new policies of GoodReads:
The fear of breaking those shiny new rules is stifling my ability to write, so I'm afraid I can't contribute a review.
It's a great book, though. Give it a try.
May 05, 2015 Michelle rated it did not like it
The social science methodology laid out in the experiments described in this book is horrendously flawed. Lack of controls, overgeneralizations, and sexist assumptions riddle this deficient work of pseudoscience. The sexist subtext and often TEXT is also incredibly offensive. This book should not be taught in schools, but certainly not at the graduate level. The public is smarter than this book assumes we are.
Ashok Krishna
It has been quite a while now that I have come to the conclusion that we humans are not the rational, noble, sensible and sane species that we have been thinking of ourselves to be. While my opinion happens to have had its genesis in watching my fellow humans driving their vehicles, skipping the queues and behave in dumb ways wherever and whenever they can, Dan Ariely seems to have done a study about it in a proper, unbiased and academic way.

This is my second read of Dan's books and I can't hel
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  • The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less
  • Don't Believe Everything You Think: The 6 Basic Mistakes We Make in Thinking
  • The Art of Choosing
  • The Invisible Gorilla: And Other Ways Our Intuitions Deceive Us
  • Why We Buy: The Science of Shopping
  • Kluge: The Haphazard Construction of the Human Mind
  • A Mind of Its Own: How Your Brain Distorts and Deceives
  • Quirkology: How We Discover the Big Truths in Small Things
  • Animal Spirits: How Human Psychology Drives the Economy, and Why It Matters for Global Capitalism
  • Sway: The Irresistible Pull of Irrational Behavior
  • The Hour Between Dog and Wolf: Risk Taking, Gut Feelings and the Biology of Boom and Bust
  • The Science of Fear: Why We Fear the Things We Shouldn't--and Put Ourselves in Greater Danger
  • Thinking and Deciding
  • Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness
  • SuperSense: Why We Believe in the Unbelievable
From Wikipedia:

Dan Ariely is the James B. Duke Professor of Behavioral Economics at Duke University. He also holds an appointment at the MIT Media Lab where he is the head of the eRationality research group. He was formerly the Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Behavioral Economics at MIT Sloan School of Management.

Dan Ariely grew up in Israel after birth in New York. He served in the Israeli army and
More about Dan Ariely...

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“But suppose we are nothing more than the sum of our first, naive, random behaviors. What then?” 39 likes
“individuals are honest only to the extent that suits them (including their desire to please others)” 37 likes
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