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The Upside of Irrationality: The Unexpected Benefits of Defying Logic at Work and at Home

4.03  ·  Rating details ·  33,408 ratings  ·  1,035 reviews
The provocative follow-up to the New York Times bestseller Predictably Irrational

Why can large bonuses make CEOs less productive?
How can confusing directions actually help us?
Why is revenge so important to us?
Why is there such a big difference between what we think will make us happy and what really makes us happy?

In his groundbreaking book Predictably Irrational, social
Hardcover, 334 pages
Published June 1st 2010 by Harper
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Way Chuang Ang Sort of. Though this book is more personal to the author. The author conducted studies based on his past irrational behaviours.
Sanjeev Kotnala You could reach me at sorry for the delay in replying to you

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Jun 30, 2010 rated it liked it
I had a sufficiently positive impression of Dan Ariely from his first book, Predictably Irrational, to be willing to give this one a try. My residual impression from the earlier book was of a smart, likable guy, with a knack for designing clever experiments to capture the irrational side of human behavior, particularly when making decisions with economic consequences. This area of investigation has risen to prominence over the past 5 to 10 years, there is now a flood of titles on the market, whi ...more
Jan 12, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Since long I have wanted to add a gist of review of this book, chapter-wise so that I could look up later.

Part 1 - Work-related Irrationalities

1. Big Bonuses don't work. (Which means CEO high salaries aren't quite logical.) Oh, but this is no way a bad news for your rewards and recognition program. Bonuses and reward should be just right, not too less that people do not care and not too much that enormity of reward at stake scares your people into failure.

2. Even though all of us work for a sala
Jun 18, 2010 rated it it was amazing
It is possible that I give far too many books five stars. Oh well.

There is a lovely bit in Bright-sided: How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking Has Undermined Americawhere Barbara is at a conference of those who would have us wear badges with smiley-faces stuck in our lapels were they discussed if 'Positive Thinking' might not be a brand that has a bit of a smell about it. Time to rebrand, perhaps? Re-branding is, after all, the solution to all of the worlds ills (why they haven't cha
Mar 29, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: psychology
I thoroughly enjoyed Ariely's previous book Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions, and this book is excellent as well. There are many "pop-psychology" books on the market these days, but one thing sets this book off from the rest. Rather than simply reporting on the research of others, the author himself conducted the many psychology experiments described in his book. This gives the book an aura of authenticity, because it describes research in the first person. The ...more
May 14, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another good read from Dr. Ariely; however, I very much more enjoyed his first book (Predictably Irrational) over this one. Maybe I was in a more "critical" frame of mind when reading this, but a couple of the early chapters left me with some questions.

In Chapter 2, he discusses the concept of “contrafreeloading” and uses the example of the rat who, at the sign of a light signal, leaves a “free” bowl of food in favor of the lever that he must push to produce food, as well as his pet parrot, Jean
Jan 05, 2011 rated it did not like it
Shelves: bookclub
I did NOT like this book. This is one of a long line of behavioral-economic-statistics books a la Tipping Point and Blink, but is not well written and comes late in the game. At times (many times) Dan Ariely uses "research" consisting of a handful of young people, collected from the not-so-diverse environment of his local Starbucks. He asks them to complete 5 min tasks and then makes widespread generalizations about human behavior. It seems as though the author is trying to cash in on American's ...more
Loy Machedo
Jul 10, 2013 rated it liked it
Loy Machedo's Book Review - The Upside of Irrationality by Dan Ariely

There have a couple of books on Behavioral Economics that I have read over the last 2 years. A few of my favorites being:
1. Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman,
2. Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything (P.S.) by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner,
3. SuperFreakonomics: Global Cooling, Patriotic Prostitutes, and Why Suicide Bombers Should Buy Life Insurance by Steven D. Levitt and Stephe
May 22, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Ariely writes about behavioral economics: "We don't assume that people are perfectly sensible, calculating machines. Instead, we observe how people actually behave, and quite often our observations lead us to the conclusion that human beings are irrational."

No one ever admits to being irrational, yet we frequently witness irrational behavior in others. After reading the book, I'll have to begrudgingly admit that I'm not perfectly rational either !

Throughout the 11 chapters of the book, various p
Aug 05, 2013 rated it liked it
I have read the three books by Dan Ariely, Preidctably Irrational, The Upside of Irrationality and The Honest Truth About Dishonesty. After reading all the three books, I have this feeling that the examples used, the experiments mentioned and some of the themes are starting to repeat in different places. Maybe there is a limit to what an author can write or give in terms of contents. After all we are all humans.

I give a four star rating for Predictably Irrational and the Honest Truth About Disho
Jul 28, 2010 rated it really liked it
This is definitely not "The Myth of Sisyphus" nor does it pretend to be. The main attraction of Ariely's books is Ariely himself. He is sort of a cuddly pop Montaigne who writes his persona constantly into the text. The author-persona --a self-deprecating, humorous Israeli-American academic who suffered a terrible accident in his youth-- weaves himself into the the different chapters about topics as diverse as the effectiveness of large bonuses to achieve better performance, revenge as a motivat ...more
May 31, 2011 rated it it was amazing
My take: Dan Ariely has the coolest job EVER. Best as I can tell, he's a social psychologist. He studies social behavior and creates questionnaires to determine why a person does what s/he does. So he teaches his classes at Duke University, probably wearing his tweed jacket with patches on the elbows, has an idea, presents it to whoever pays for it, writes his hypotheses, makes up a questionnaire, then lures unsuspecting citizens into his lair for experimentation.

I absolutely loved how he used e
Roozbeh Daneshvar
Aug 17, 2020 rated it really liked it
We are irrational and this book goes over many of our irrationalities. Not only that, the book shows how they can be beneficial (hence the title). For example, it shows how revenge might be a waste of resources and we still take it on others (and revenge can be useful for our societies, too).

For example, the book shows how motivation works. Incentives can increase our performance: we will do better in a test if the prize is bigger. Yet, as we increase the incentive, our performance might start t
Jan 04, 2011 rated it really liked it
Dan Ariely is one of my favorite non-fiction writers, so I was excited to find out that he'd come out with a new book, The Upside of Irrationality, and frustrated that I had to wait so long for it to be available at my library. But it finally came in, and I tore through it in two or three days.

Following on the heels of Ariely's first book, Predictably Irrational, The Upside of Irrationality charts ways in which we humans are not the rational, careful beings economists tell us we are. Ariely's go
Jul 08, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Dan Ariely's previous book on behavioral economics, Predictably Irrational was fantastic. It explored the way that economics work on a personal level when you stop assuming that people are completely irrational and provided a great overview of the many kinks in the human brain that lead us to make weird, suboptimal decisions. His new book, The Upside of Irrationality, flips that coin onto its other side and looks at hour our penchant for irrational decision-making can actually benefit us and mak ...more
Zhou Fang
Jan 28, 2021 rated it really liked it
I listened to this on audiobook. Entertaining as all of Dan Ariely's research is, although I'm not quite sure that the book convincingly lays out the theme of the upside of irrationality. Instead, it seems to be, like many other books of this genre, more of a literature review (albeit an interesting one). Ariely demonstrates that we exhibit irrationality when it comes to things such as (1) finding meaning out of work (2) falling in love with our own ideas (3) adapting to extreme luck or misfortu ...more
Jan 15, 2018 rated it liked it
A quick read, The Upside of Irrationality isn't too substantial if you've already read Predictably Irrational. Many examples are recycled and I felt unsure if this was the same book I had already read. It's still enjoyable in that behavioral economics style of feeling that you've learned something without diving into an overly dense book, and Ariely does have a lot of intelligent commentary. If this wasn't one of the only unread works downloaded onto my iBooks and I wasn't stuck on a 9 hour flig ...more
Abdelmjid Seghir
Ariely has a knack for making me reevaluate how I act and consider things. After Predictably Irrational left me in awe, The Upside of Irrationality comes to confirm that Ariely is a top-notch social scientist and is worthy of being revered as such.
Samridhi Khurana
Sep 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
Dan Ariely’s books are always a delight to read. In the Upside of Irrationality, Ariely talks about the situations wherein no matter how rational we think of ourselves, we are always acting based on our pre conceived biases and notions. He also highlights how such acts sometimes fall into the right place in the long run. Being emotionally driven is not a very bad thing after all!
Like the rest of his books, I’ll rate it as a must recommended read.
Jan 06, 2013 rated it really liked it
A continuation of his previous book, except this time the focus is on how being irrational can be a good thing. Book consists of a number of examples, each illustrated by social psych experiments.

- performance vs compensation is a U-shaped curve. The optimal compensation is somewhere in the middle. Once you exceed that level of compensation, performance starts to go down. Hypothesized explanation is that people can’t effectively concentrate because they’re so worried about the money

- NBA clutch
May 22, 2014 rated it really liked it
Dan Ariely,a great teacher,writer and,above all,a leading figure in the fields of social science and behavioral economics,proves once again to be da man(!) and Upside of irrationality to be a decent follow-up of Predictably Irrational.

The main target of the book is,of course,debunking rational-choice-models of standard economics which assumes that human beings always understand their needs and wants.That we are calculating machines,striving for maximizing economic utility,always following our be
Winston Jen
May 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Following up on his blockbuster hit Predictably Irrational, Ariely presents us with a whole slew of new arguments and experiments that rip apart "rational" economic assumptions. In actuality, rational economic assumptions only work on the basis of financial gain, and ignore half of the brain, the emotional half, that has a greater impact upon our decisions and actions (largely in part because it is a more primitive portion of our brains).

Chapter 1 is an entertaining look at how monetary incentiv
Carol Moore
Aug 23, 2012 rated it really liked it
The Upside of Irrationality - Dan Ariely read, March 2012 ****

I enjoy reading Dan Ariely's books.
This is what I took away from his latest book:

Labor and Love
• The effort that we put into something does not just change the object. It changes us and the way we evaluate that object.
• Greater labor leads to greater love.
• Our overvaluation of the things we make runs so deep that we assume that others share our biased perspective.
• When we cannot complete something into which w
Kanti Brahma
Aug 28, 2012 rated it liked it
Dan Ariely has divided the books into two broad parts: Part 1- The unexpected way we defy logic at work and Part 2- The unexpected way we defy logic at home. Each part has five chapters covering five different areas where so called rational human being behaves irrationally.
Why and bonuses work in motivating employees? How much bonus should be paid to employees performing physical work and mental work? When do we derive joy from our work, how comes the sense of contribution? Do people satisfy the
Kressel Housman
This was just like its predecessor Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions, but with a bit more personal information about Dan Ariely himself. Not just personal - downright intimate! Interspersed with the experiments and his conclusions are stories of how being a burn victim shaped his life, and the overall effect makes him highly believable in his descriptions of human behavior. I highly recommend this book and its predecessor. But read them in order; they make more s ...more
Aug 25, 2011 rated it it was amazing
A fantastic psychology book backed up by legitimate experiments!

Unlike some psychology writings,Tthe Upside of Irrationality uses the scientific method and carefully designed experiments to validate (or refute) the hypothesis of the author/psychologist/scientist. The experiments were all simply explained and then the data was correlated with the final findings. This book is a refreshing change from today's world of rhetoric and inane internet commenting backed up solely by people's biased opinio
Oct 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
The Upside of Irrationality is at its basis what it says it is. A series of hypotheses with regards to human behavior under the control of psychological quirks such as revenge, self-herding, etc.

I found the topics mostly amusing and practical. I also felt that the book is very well-written with a nice sense of humor. The author also opens up about his experience through a terrible accident and how he recovered.

Although this book is written after the author's previous book (Predictably Irrational
Eric Lynch
May 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
I have to admit that Behavioral Economics is not a field I am well versed in understanding but I am beginning to comprehend why adding more psychology and challenging the rationality assumptions of actors will help improve the area of Economics. With humor, experimentation, his own real-life medical travesty, and modern examples, Ariely does a solid job in priming the topic of Behavioral Economics with this book and based on his energetic writing style, I plan to search out more from him.
Jul 26, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Brian by: goodreads
Shelves: on-kindle
(3.5) Not quite as interesting as Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions

The angle here is that he tries to find ways to use predictable irrationality to make and encourage good decisions. He motivates a lot of the content via personal anecdotes, explaining why he decided to pursue certain research questions. Not sure that adds much to the learning you can derive from the book, but is an interesting insight into how a researcher chooses what to dive into.
Jan 25, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Dan Ariely is one of the father's of behavioural economics and I love this book.

Ariely explores how we actually behave, not how we think we should behave.

The first half explores his traditional research - why paying more gets worse performance, the value of saying sorry and such. The second half is much more personal where he explains how he has used his research in making his own life choices.

Easy-to-read and very engaging. Would highly recommend his first book too: Predictably Irrational.
Anton Tomsinov
Jun 05, 2014 rated it it was amazing
A very touching, personal, stimulating book. Liked it a bit more than the previous one (‘Predictably Irrational’). Good to know that irrationality has a brighter side which can be useful. Best chapter is the one about hedonic adaptation.
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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

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“To summarize, using money to motivate people can be a double-edged sword. For tasks that require cognitive ability, low to moderate performance-based incentives can help. But when the incentive level is very high, it can command too much attention and thereby distract the person’s mind with thoughts about the reward. This can create stress and ultimately reduce the level of performance.” 51 likes
“...[D]ivision of labor, in my mind, is one of the dangers of work-based technology. Modern IT infrastructure allows us to break projects into very small, discrete parts and assign each person to do only one of the many parts. In so doing, companies run the risk of taking away employees' sense of the big picture, purpose, and sense of completion.” 15 likes
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