Tanya Hart's Reviews > Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions

Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely
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's review
Aug 07, 2011

really liked it
Read in August, 2011

Very enjoyable. I have heard versions/ some other perspectives of these stories on his podcast 'Arming the Donkeys' (on iTunes U). The kinds of ideas that let you see things about yourself that are useful to see. A different approach to things from the Freakonomics guys (who don't do studies or experiments, but analyse 'found data'), but a similar habit of unveiling unexpected structures behind the way things work, or don't work.

One study, for example, asked young men a series of questions (ethical, practical, aesthetic) when they were in an interview, and then got them to answer the questions again when they were at a high level of sexual arousal. The answers were alarmingly different with a different part of the brain in charge. (Not comparing men to women, they used men because it's more simple).

Another study they call the Ikea effect looks at how we like things more if we made them ourselves, even if (or especially if) they were really troublesome. And we also value them inaccurately higher when we consider how other people would value them. Kids, for example, and handicrafts.
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