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Sway: The Irresistible Pull of Irrational Behavior
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Sway: The Irresistible Pull of Irrational Behavior

3.78  ·  Rating details ·  18,637 ratings  ·  1,017 reviews
A fascinating journey into the hidden psychological influences that derail our decision-making, Sway will change the way you think about the way you think.

Why is it so difficult to sell a plummeting stock or end a doomed relationship? Why do we listen to advice just because it came from someone “important”? Why are we more likely to fall in love when there’s danger involve
Hardcover, 206 pages
Published June 3rd 2008 by Crown Business (first published January 1st 2008)
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Average rating 3.78  · 
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 ·  18,637 ratings  ·  1,017 reviews

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Mar 19, 2009 rated it it was amazing
First you need to find yourself an interesting verb – Sway in this case, obviously, but Snoop is also good, as is Stick. It doesn’t have to start with ‘s’ – there’s Blink as well, of course. Then you need some really good stories about people at the end of their tether. Plane accidents are particularly good for this. Both Outliers and Sway both have plane crashes and both have you at the edge of your seat waiting for the inevitable.

Then you need ‘get-out-of-here’ psychology tests – honestly, who
May 28, 2008 rated it really liked it
I was not at all in the mood for another non-fiction book about human behavior when my husband asked if I wanted to read this one before he returned it to the library. I half-heartedly decided to scan a few pages before saying no, but I was quickly sucked in to a fictionalized re-creation of the last few hours in the cockpit of the KLM flight responsible for the 1977 Tenerife crash that claimed the lives of 583 people.

Though this book looks at research from social psychology, behavioral economic
Otis Chandler
May 27, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Otis by: kareem
Great book. Quick read, and you learn about about psychology that you can apply to life or business.

A few notes:
- All about first impressions. First impressions can sway our opinion of something for years to come regardless of subsequent performance.
- Labels matter. If you label someone as a higher performer, top of class, leader, having command potential, etc - it will translate into them actually having it. My high school motto was Principes Non Homines (leaders not men) - now I know why they
Barnaby Thieme
I wish I could recommend this book, as the topic is an interesting and important one, but I can't. It's simply not well written or organized.

Brafman treats the hot topic of cognitive biases and nonconscious factors that contribute to decision making, an area which has received enormous attention in recent years in cognitive and social psychology (Wegner, Wilson), and economics (Tversky).

I gather what he's trying to do is to present some of the basic findings to a lay audience. Either Brafman's
Feb 25, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: library, the-brain
We’ve all made irrational decisions: be it in work, love, or finances. The question is, why? What psychological drive causes this behavior? Brothers Ori and Rom Brafman explore these burning questions in, “Sway: The Irresistible Pull of Irrational Behavior”.

In “Sway”, Brafman and Brafman attempt to explore loss aversion, value attribution, and the diagnosis bias in order to explain human behavior which is either irrational or out of the norm. Sadly, they are not quite successful.

“Sway” is gear
Joselito Honestly and Brilliantly
Books are basically meant to be read (although some buy them for display purposes only). So you buy books because you intend to read them. But why buy more books if you already have so many books in your to-be-read pile that you can’t possibly finish reading them even if you live 150 years? IT is pointless, a waste of money and silly. Yet you keep on doing it. This book analyzes irrational behaviours like this.

It starts with a real life story, a tragic one. KLM Flight 4805 was piloted by Captain
Jul 15, 2010 rated it it was ok
Think of the the Brafman brothers as a poor man's Malcolm Galdwell. A very, very poor man. "Sway" covers interesting and important ground, but dumbs it down way too much.

This might be the right call when presenting this material to a half-day corporate retreat. But it makes for a maddening read. Instead of building up their case based on evidence and support, the authors simply assert their conclusions (or the conclusions of the researchers on which they rely? It's never made clear). Instead of
Nov 23, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Quick read - 181 pages. I banged it out over two days. Sway is a social economic book from the same vein as Freakonomics and The Tipping Point. The authors descibe psychological forces that can "sway" people into irrational decision making. Several well stated examples are given to support the authors theories throughout.

Overall, Sway is entertaining. It falls short on meaningful substance, and some areas are fluff laden. However, there are several interesting points illustrated through engaging
Joy D
In my working life, I have observed first-hand smart, capable executives making poor business decisions. Although the common thinking is that business decisions are based on logic, such as cost-benefit analysis and business cases, in my experience, the optimal solution is not always selected. This cogent, enlightening book provides explanations of the variety of influences that may have contributed to these questionable decisions. At the beginning of each chapter, the author provides an example ...more
Lisa Vegan
Apr 28, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: everyone - except those who never read nonfiction, but maybe they’d appreciate this one
This book is very readable and entertaining, and so engaging that I just kept reading and didn’t read the notes until after I’d finished the book, which is unusual for me. It’s fascinating knowlege for anyone who has an interest in universal human nature and/or group dynamics.

The authors take a bunch of existing studies and do a tremendous job of presenting a cogent thesis about why human beings can exhibit such irrational behaviors. I was familiar with many of the studies cited in the book; I w
Jul 07, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2009
This book covers roughly the same behavioral economics territory considered in such recent books as Dan Ariely's "Predictably Irrational" ( and "Nudge" by Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein ( It had been stalking me on my Amazon recommendations queue for at least a year, but I had resisted it successfully until this weekend, when I came across it in the bookstore and finally succumbed.

I'm glad I did. I wasn't expe
Nov 20, 2016 rated it liked it
There are two major flaws with Sway. One is that it does not tread any new ground. Most of what is conveyed has already been covered in other books. The other is the fact that the book has become more a collection of research citations than a solid idea structured book. I found the lack of summarizing sections at the end of each chapter annoying as well though that was somehow made up for by the Epilogue chapter.

If you are a new comer in the field of behavioral sciences, Sway may have much to of
Jul 11, 2012 rated it it was ok
This is extremely casual, and I would instead recommend "Nudge" instead for a better look at behavioral economics.
Apr 29, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was torn between 2 and 3 stars for this book. It is entertaining at times, which is why I opted for the third star, but it’s really just a very lightweight entry into the pop psychology genre. The writing is too cutesy for my tastes, while the conclusions drawn are ambiguous and, most of the time, could be supportive of the exact opposite point the authors intended.

Since I listened to the audio version, I don’t know what sort of supporting detail the authors provided for their conclusions, bu
K's Corner
Mar 17, 2015 rated it really liked it
Thoroughly enjoyed this short and powerful read. It is about various forces that drive our decision making, forces that too often sway us in the wrong direction without us even realizing that they are happening. It gives you some new perspective and awareness of what those 'sways' are, why they influence behaviors of those around us and our own selves and finally what you could potentially do to not be victimized by them. Very interesting!
Bogdan Teodorescu
Feb 17, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: e-book, psychology
Well interesting read, but many of the facts presented seemed more than obvious and intuitive for me so I didn't learn too much. Still there were some interesting psychological experiments with some unexpected results, and overall it was a well-documented book and well-structured, covering most of what I expected. Nothing special anyway
Ayush Shrestha
Apr 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Sway by, Rom Brafman and Ori Brafman, goes on to outstand us avid readers of psychology, by exposing why you bought those expensive pair of headphones when there were the exact same being sold for a lesser price. Why you got turned down your last job interview, and why we feel dumb when we’re called dumb. Sway utilizes the most interesting of experiments to uncover why we do, what we do, even if our choice was completely illogical. Placing doctors near a hotdog stand, a man boosted his sales thr ...more
Dec 03, 2009 rated it really liked it
I didn’t check the NYT Bestseller list but I would assume that Sway must be doing well. It is brief enough to read over a weekend and there is just enough psychology that you can repeat and sound like you know what you are talking. It is sort of a little tree that grew in the ground broken by Freakonomics.
The book starts with a story of the mature, highly experienced, and well-trained head of safety at KLM airlines impulsively taking off without clearance, plowing into another plane and killing
Yousha Matin
Nov 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
An incredibly easy to read and insightful introduction to understanding the wonderful world of irrational behavior. Some great examples throughout. A tad "poppy" but I don't think that's a criticism. Rather, the accessibility of this book, and its short length means the chances of it being finished are higher, and that can only be a good thing when gaining knowledge.
Jackie "the Librarian"
Aug 03, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: If you enjoy books such as Freakonomics
Recommended to Jackie "the Librarian" by: Lisa Vegan
Shelves: non-fiction
That street musician might just be a musical genius - you never know! Beware of making assumptions about the value of something based on superficial appearances, or you may miss out on a masterpiece, like the stolen painting in a cheap frame, left out with the trash, and found on the streets of New York by a woman with a discerning eye.
Give yourself permission to go against the crowd, and question authority when you have legitimate questions. In other words, don't let yourself fall prey to bein
Menglong Youk
Nov 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
4.5/5 stars

I read this book three months after a painful breakup. Knowing the consequences of staying would be too costly, yet, I still hanged on, hoping an unfaithful person would change their behavior.

"To withdraw now is to accept a sure loss, and that option is deeply unattractive. When you combine this with the force of commitment, the option of hanging on will therefore be relatively attractive even if the chances of success are small, and the cost of delaying failure is high. Aversion to
Jun 01, 2008 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: people who have never considered these issues
Recommended to rivka by: Lisa Vegan
Well, the goal of reading this after GG&S was to find something faster-paced and less academic. In that way, it was a success.

In most others, not so much. For a book published in 2008, it depends an awful lot on studies and publications from the mid-90s. The cited sources may have used adequate numbers and documentation, but this book certainly did not. "Some" as a quantifier was way, way overused.

This book depended far too much on gimmicks like the chapter opening pages and other fluff, and not
Jesse Markus
Nov 30, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Another one of those books that everybody should read. The authors take lots of separate examples of irrational behavior and counter-intuitive conclusions, and tie them all together with solid, scientifically satisfying explanations. Not only is it packed full of illuminating information, but it also contains lots of stories, which makes it very readable. I'd go so far as to say that the world would be a lot better off if everyone absorbed the lessons in this book, which should only take a coupl ...more
Aug 17, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-read-2012
For all those that have read Freakanomics!

Picks up on the latest theories in behavioural economics and shows through anecdotes and experiments how people can be swayed (hence the title) to pick or choose in certain ways.

Blows years of economic theories out the window that people are 'rational'. They are not and economic theory should assume that people do behave this way.
Jul 20, 2009 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2009-reads
Two Brafmans do not equal a Gladwell.
Javier Lorenzana
Jan 05, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: to-think
Everyone acts irrationally sometimes; Sway explains why.

Quick, fun, insightful read.
Christal (Badass Book Reviews)
Sway: The Irresistible Pull of Irrational Behavior by Ori and Ram Brofman is a very broad overview of several sociological attributes that may affect behavior, causing people to react and behave in unexpected ways. The Brofmans provide a multitude of anecdotal evidence to explain these topics and to demonstrate how they might be observed in everyday life. While this book isn’t very effective at explaining how to combat irrational behavior, it does succeed in introducing the common attributes in ...more
(A book from 2008) I read a lot of books like this in 2008– written by clever people who saw the world as politically neutral, people who earnestly believed that in their cleverness lay the answers to all the world’s problems.
Didn’t turn out that well.
This is a fairly well written and well researched iteration of the type. The views on mental illness have not held up well, and the casual sexism? Even in 2008, I’m sure that was not okay.
I was particularly drawn to this book during this time of mass irrational behavior, and it did not disappoint. I've always wanted to know the reasons behind people's actions (both my own and others) and this book was incredibly helpful in uncovering some of the subconscious forces that influence behavior. The fact that the writing is concise and accessible is a major plus. Absolutely everyone could get something out of this book!
TheAccidental  Reader
Feb 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
Very good! I am obsessed right now with books about how we think, and why we have certain blindspots. Much interesting research is cited here. You will love the one about the French Who Wants to be a Millionaire!
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I have two free copies of Sway to give away... 6 97 Feb 02, 2009 11:10AM  

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