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The Winner's Curse: Paradoxes and Anomalies of Economic Life
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The Winner's Curse: Paradoxes and Anomalies of Economic Life

3.86  ·  Rating details ·  351 ratings  ·  27 reviews
Richard Thaler challenges the received economic wisdom by revealing many of the paradoxes that abound even in the most painstakingly constructed transactions. He presents literate, challenging, and often funny examples of such anomalies as why the winners at auctions are often the real losers--they pay too much and suffer the "winner's curse"-- why gamblers bet on long ...more
Paperback, 240 pages
Published January 30th 1994 by Princeton University Press (first published 1991)
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Nov 01, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A bit disappointing. Thaler discusses economic "anomalies," aka patterns discerned that would not have been predicted by rational economic theory--why different industries pay different wages for the same jobs, why people prefer unrealized gains to paper losses, choices over time that disregard interest and inflation, treating money in savings accounts as more valuable than the same amount in checking accounts, etc. etc.

However, instead of trying to get at the root of why these anomalies exist,
Ami Iida
Oct 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: economics
He's the forerunner of the behavioral economics. it's to unravel human economic irrationally.
Jul 22, 2014 rated it really liked it
I have to admit that I didn't fully understand every last technical detail, but it was great to think about the general ideas Thaler covered in each chapter. (My favorite was the chapter on preference reversals, where option A is preferred over option B, but option B is priced more than option A.) His overall message was that there are persistent economic anomalies that challenge certain economic theories, and it's because people are more complicated (or perhaps less rational) than economic ...more
Joseph Carrabis
Aug 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The first third to half of this book is must reading for social marketers. Must reading. I was familiar with these concepts from other disciplines and it was refreshing to see economists coming on board.
That noted, this is not a casual read (unless you’re an economist, perhaps). There’s a good deal of jargon in the book - mostly explained - and readers unfamiliar with economics may slow down encountering econospeak - they use the same words we use but differently.
Still, an enjoyable read.
Feb 27, 2011 rated it really liked it
Offers a lot of food for thought, although sometimes a bit dry. Thaler is better known now as the co-author of Nudge, but back in 1992 he compiled this book reviewing the current (at the time) economic literature regarding consistently reproducible examples of non-rational human behavior. It's not quite a popular economics book, as there are many passages where he simply details the findings of various economics papers, but it's also much more engagingly written than your standard academic ...more
Chris Esposo
Feb 08, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An insightful collection of articles contributed by various authors in the behavioural economics domain, with a unified theme that each article is demonstrating a counterexample to some facet of neoclassical economics. These include empirical evidence against models of repeated prisoner-dilemma or other games showing a marked propensity to cooperate, results demonstrating the endowment effect, or the disutility to sell vs buy fixing price -demonstrating an asymmetry in clearing, calendar effects ...more
Terry Koressel
Nov 18, 2019 rated it liked it
The Winner's Curse is written by Richard Thaler, a Nobel Prize winner who understands the paradoxes and anomalies of economic assumptions as well as anyone. There are certain economic principles or theories or transactions whose empirical results do not match the accepted "laws". The cause of these anomalies is patterned human behavior which differs from predicted or theorized behavior. The Winner's Curse is brilliantly researched, organized and detailed. So why only 3 stars? The book is ...more
Feb 03, 2020 rated it liked it
From one of the founders (or the founder?) of the behavioral economy, the book presents examples of where traditional economic theories fail to describe inefficiencies in decision making. Not every case ends with a definite explanation using behavioral methods. Some of the chapters are practical like "winner's curse" for those in business, "Savings, Fungibility, and Mental Accounts" for all of us making savings and borrowing decisions, and "Pari-mutuel Betting Markets" for the horse racing and ...more
Nov 01, 2019 rated it liked it
This book is more of a text book. If you don't have an economical background some parts will be a little complicated to understand. It is a summary of papers he published in an economics journal. The last part of the book is lighter and you can digest more. Talks about social marketing and how the anomalies (some of them not valid now) interacts with the way we think. It is a book that is getting older but still a good one to understand behavioural economics.

Andreas Riedl
Apr 25, 2019 rated it liked it
I love Thaler's thinking. Nevertheless, the book is approx. 25 years old and concepts were further developed. Also, this is an economics textbook that probably requires a certain education in the field to be able to read it. Milestone book.
Sep 21, 2018 rated it liked it
Good information, just not as well put together as Thaler's later books or Thinking, Fast and Slow
DJ Williams
Nov 20, 2019 rated it it was ok
Interesting topics, but often really dry and dull writing--Misbehaving is a much better book by the same author on largely the same subjects.
Kent Winward
Dec 25, 2019 rated it liked it
Thaler on his own isn't quite as practical as some of his counterparts. Interesting stuff, but heavy on the data, light on the implications.
Jun 23, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This books collects some of the papers that Richard H. Thaler authored with various colleagues in the "Anomalies" series of the Journal of Economic Perspectives over the period 1987-1990, investigating behaviours which could not be accounted for by the standard economics paradigm. In spite of the time that has gone by, many of the anomalies are still relevant today. Of the academic journals published by the American Economic Association, this is the one more oriented to a general readership, ...more
Feb 14, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Probably the best single source if you want to explore the hot field of behavioral economics. Not overly technical, so very readable. If you liked [i]Freakonomics[/i], for instance, this would be a good follow-up.
Yuekun Liu
Nov 09, 2016 rated it liked it
The book documents 13 economics anomalies. The author describes the detailed experiments and their results that challenge the rationally and self-interest, assumed in the normative theory. Recommend to anyone who is interested in the experimental behavioural finance.
Greg Holdsworth
Jan 02, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: finance
Wonderful introduction to the large gap between
economic theory and how people actually interact.
Richard Thaler entertains and educates - the only
reason I didn't give it 5 stars is that some people
to whom I recommended it found it a little technical
in parts.
Apr 26, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2008
An interesting tome on behavioral economics. Uses anomalies and paradoxes to argue for more nuanced models. Best of all, fairly accessible to the Economically Challenged.
Feb 25, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: academic-popular
Have to plug your own teacher.
Энэрзаяа Г.
Dec 27, 2016 rated it really liked it
Fascinating but at times difficult to follow the jargon-dense language.
May 18, 2008 marked it as to-read
Found via investigations into Obama

Feb 01, 2008 rated it really liked it
This book made me want to get a PhD in economics.
Feb 12, 2014 rated it liked it
Interesting. Very high level. Went into a lot of detail (especially about experiments) , but neglected repetitious verbiage.
Feb 07, 2009 added it
people are wierd
myself included
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Apr 11, 2019
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Jul 08, 2018
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Jun 17, 2018
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May 27, 2015
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Richard H. Thaler is an American economist who was awarded the 2017 Nobel Prize in Economics.

He is the Charles R. Walgreen Distinguished Service Professor of Behavioral Science and Economics at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business, where he is the director of the Center for Decision Research. He is also the co-director (with Robert Shiller) of the Behavioral Economics Project at