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

Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely
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M_50x66
's review
Sep 03, 12

Read in August, 2012

The author is often on NPR or other media talking about his expertise as an academic, behavioral, economist/psychologist. This book is full of interesting stories and experiments that show how often people make decisions inconsistent with economic theory and sometimes common sense. Many of the experiments were conducted with college students (esp his MIT) where some would be a control group, others given some choices or tasks - often with chance to make a small sum of money. The results are either the proof of hypotheses or the source for spinning explanations.

I liked his introduction of "social norms" as a behavior modifier (e.g., you get a great dinner at Auntie's and you don't stand up and offer her money for it). I liked his stories about cheating - little cheating (we all do it) - (e.g., internet dating places the women under report their weight and the men over-report their earnings and their height).

A few times the author claimed to disproven, say, that the demand curve is downward sloping. I found his self congratulations irritating. But, it should remind economists to better emphasize that we are holding other things constant (like tastes and preferences and culture).

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message 1: by todd (last edited Sep 05, 2012 05:56AM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

todd Karl, I agree with your perspective on this book, but I was tougher grading on the handwaving and "voila!" moments. I'm not ready to reject downward sloping demand curves quite so readily.


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