Dora's Reviews > The Upside of Irrationality: The Unexpected Benefits of Defying Logic at Work and at Home

The Upside of Irrationality by Dan Ariely
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's review
Aug 20, 2010

really liked it
Read in August, 2010

I really enjoyed this book-- it was a pleasure to read, I zipped right through it and it made me think a lot about the ways human beings sometimes act based on emotion rather than logic.

I loved how, much like Sheena Iyengar's "The Art of Choosing", Dan spoke of his personal experiences and how they influenced what he was interested in studying. I think it's fantastic when academics can write in a personal way, intercontextualizing their own experiences with their research.

Throughout reading this book I kept turning to Norman to talk about it with him, it really made me think so much, which is why I rated it so highly!

The most compelling chapter for me was about executive compensation (also what caused me to pick up this book to read it). There appears to be no evidence that massively huge bonuses positively impact a CEO's/banker's job performance.

My issues with the book:

1) I felt that the chapter on internet dating was pretty weak and oversimplified. In his study, people reported that they do not like internet dating and thus he deemed it a failure. However, this failed to acknowledge the great success internet dating has been for countless people- perhaps the personal ads sites aren't great, but they can (and clearly have been) a means to an end for many people. I thought it was an interesting discussion of how personal ad dating websites try to boil human beings down to their attributes, which isn't really what draws people to each other- that part of the chapter was great. And so I thought a deeper discussion could have been had about the plethora of other ways people can meet on the internet (livejournal, world of warcraft, etc) that fit into his study about how people actually get to know each other (experiencing things together).

2) often times, a chapter would be sub-titled "why we do X", and then the study itself wouldn't really tell us WHY we did a certain behavior, rather just demonstrate that we *do* that certain behavior, and then he would speculate why.

Otherwise, I loved it.

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