Jackie "the Librarian"'s Reviews > Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions

Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely
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's review
Nov 07, 2008

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bookshelves: non-fiction

Another book that looks at human behavior, and how we don't behave logically even when we are sure we do. This follows the same well-worn path of Sway, Freakonomics, and Blink, and after having read those, there wasn't a lot new here.
Yes, humans see credit differently than cash. Ariely uses that premise to show how easy it is for companies such as Enron to steal vast sums without feeling the same as a mugger taking money from an old lady's purse, despite the end result being the same.
People are influenced by brand names and logos, and knowing that it is a Coke you are drinking changes the amount of pleasure you get from your beverage than if you are having an anonymous cola.
This affects our response to drugs as well. If we think we are taking a pricey pill, we will feel better than if we are told we are taking a cheap aspirin, even if it's the same pill.
It's interesting, and certainly is a quick and easy read. But Ariely falls short in trying to come up with solutions to these failings. Instead of giving us tactics to fight off overusing our credit cards, he proposes that credit card companies produce a card with built-in limits. As that would limit the use of the card by consumers, it's unlikely the companies would be interested in such a card.
In the meantime, we are left with our irrational impulses to deal with. I guess we have been informed of them, which is something.
If you haven't already read a bunch of these books, this is worth a read. Otherwise, it's more of the same, and you can skip it.
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message 1: by Shawn (new)

Shawn Sorensen Sounds like another 90% problem/10% (or less) solution book. Thanks for the great, succinct-but-not-too-succinct review!

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