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

4.05 of 5 stars 4.05  ·  rating details  ·  37,022 ratings  ·  2,371 reviews
Why do our headaches persist after we take a one-cent aspirin but disappear when we take a fifty-cent aspirin?

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

When it comes to making decisions in our lives, we think we're making smart, rational choices. But are we?

In this newly revised and expanded edition of the groundb

...more
Paperback, Revised and Expanded Edition, 384 pages
Published April 27th 2010 by Harper Perennial (first published February 19th 2007)
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Community Reviews

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Trevor
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 4 of 5 stars  ·  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...more
Carol. [All cynic, all the time]
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...more
David
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...more
Mary
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...more
Ryan
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
Darin
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...more
Jamie
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
Verycleanteeth

Ch1:
Explores the ability of a decoy option to determine outcomes.
(The economist subscription, travel to rome or france w/free breakfast)

Ch2:
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)

Ch3:
The power of FREE! to disguise the actual cost we pay. The difference between 0 and 1 is...more
Greg
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...more
Laura
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"
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...more
Kathrynn
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...more
MattA
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...more
Yulia
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...more
Daniel Pink
Excellent insights into behavioral economics
K
Jun 18, 2011 K rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  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
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
Carly
Sep 29, 2013 Carly rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
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:
http://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/1...
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.
Subrahmanyam Muramalla
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.

Detail
Relativity is everywhere and in everything. The other day I heard my cousin's(say John) wife saying...more
Satyaki Mitra
A brilliant book which offers some really fascinating insights into the workings of the human mind(especially with respect to making choices). The author from the beginning dispels most of the standard economic theories which assumes humans to be rational beings(homo economicus), and narrows down his focus on how irrationality plays an intrinsic role in shaping human behavior, the author narrates the findings from the various experiments that have been conducted by him and other social scientist...more
Book
Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions by Dan Ariely

"Predictably Irrational" is a fascinating look at irrational human behavior. Professor of Psychology and Behavioral Economics at Duke University, Dan Ariely leads the readers on what makes us tick by presenting a wide range of scientific experiments, findings, and anecdotes that are amusing and enlightening. This insightful 384-page book is composed of the following fifteen chapters: 1. The Truth about Relativity Why...more
Amy
Predictably Irrational is written by MIT Behavior Economist Dan Ariely. The basis of his book is that while standard economic theory assumes that we all make rational decisions to maximize our personal utility in any number of situations, we don't always behave rationally and make the best decisions. Further, we not only act irrationally, but we behave irrationally in predictable patterns. In his work, Ariely collaborates with other researchers and designs social experiments to test the decision...more
Sujeet Gholap
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.

Content
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...more
Jennifer (JC-S)
‘Think how hard physics would be if particles could think.’

While it is comforting to know that so many decisions are made on from irrational bases, it is discomforting to be made quite so aware of it. No, I take that back: it is quite reassuring to know that while the principles of logic have their place, people are influenced by other factors.
Professor Ariely explains some of the factors that influence our decisionmaking: from the influence of emotions to the sometimes agonising choice between...more
Darcia Helle
Most people think they make their decisions based on facts, research and personal feelings. We believe our choices are, for the most part, rational. And most of us like to think that we behave spontaneously, in a way unique to each of us. Dan Ariely shows us just how predictable - and irrational - much of our decision-making truly is.

Ariely has an easy, conversational writing style. While filled with facts and research, there is nothing dry or dull about the content. This is a well written book...more
Vicki
This is an interesting look at how an individual's decision-making process is often at odds with what is objectively beneficial for him or her. Seems a tad repetitive at times, but the examples and studies outlined are undeniably fascinating and help illuminate factors that producers and marketers need to take into account in approaching a potential audience. This would be a great tandem read with Martin Lindstrom's Buyology, which looks at the brain science underlying human desires and wants.
Jim
While sometimes I might think Dan's conclusions would spark a healthy conversation between us, the sheer number of experiments he and his colleagues have done into the way people make decisions is beyond compelling. Even though I started reading this when my Personal Kanban book was almost complete - it deeply informed how I feel about my own work and showed me some root causes of human disconnects.

I put this is a must-read category.
Haplea
I enjoyed the book from beginning to end. The subject is the objective experimental study of the irrationality of many of our decisions: why we are manipulated by gimmicks like free offers, initial artificial prices, etc., instead of coldly think and act rationally in all circumstances. I was surprised by many aspects I have not really thought before and found some scientific explanations for the collective stupidity of the masses. The book attacks the classic economics, which assume in all case...more
Rob
Aug 04, 2014 Rob rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone!
Recommended to Rob by: Mark Waddoups
I believe this is a must read book - in the same category as "7 Habits of Highly Effective People" by Stephen R Covey. Every chapter was captivating and was choc-a-block full of amazing revelations on how poorly we often make decisions as humans, and why.

If you want to learn:

• why we get addicted to our smart phones
• how companies fool us into thinking their products are better by charging higher prices and exaggerating marketing messages
• how prevalent the placebo effect really is (including op...more
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Monster World: Mods 1 2 Feb 22, 2014 11:23AM  
7DRAKE: Predictably Irrational: Book review 1 4 Dec 11, 2013 01:36PM  
  • The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less
  • Redirect: The Surprising New Science of Psychological Change
  • Fooled by Randomness: The Hidden Role of Chance in Life and in the Markets
  • Sway: The Irresistible Pull of Irrational Behavior
  • Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die
  • The Invisible Gorilla: And Other Ways Our Intuitions Deceive Us
  • The Psychology of Judgment and Decision Making
  • Mistakes Were Made (But Not by Me): Why We Justify Foolish Beliefs, Bad Decisions, and Hurtful Acts
  • On Being Certain: Believing You Are Right Even When You're Not
  • Influence: Science and Practice
  • Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness
  • Animal Spirits: How Human Psychology Drives the Economy, and Why It Matters for Global Capitalism
  • The Logic of Life: The Rational Economics of an Irrational World
  • The Wisdom of Crowds
  • Yes!: 50 Scientifically Proven Ways to Be Persuasive
  • The Long Tail: Why the Future of Business is Selling Less of More
  • Why We Buy: The Science Of Shopping
  • Your Brain at Work: Strategies for Overcoming Distraction, Regaining Focus, and Working Smarter All Day Long
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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
More about Dan Ariely...
The Upside of Irrationality: The Unexpected Benefits of Defying Logic at Work and at Home The Honest Truth About Dishonesty: How We Lie to Everyone--Especially Ourselves The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2012 A Taste of Irrationality: Sample chapters from Predictably Irrational and Upside of Irrationality The Irrational Bundle

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“But suppose we are nothing more than the sum of our first, naive, random behaviors. What then?” 27 likes
“individuals are honest only to the extent that suits them (including their desire to please others)” 23 likes
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