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Sway: The Irresistible Pull of Irrational Behavior [Deckle Edge] [Hardcover]

Ori Brafman , Rom Brafman
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)

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Book Description

June 3 2008

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 involved? In Sway, renowned organizational thinker Ori Brafman and his brother, psychologist Rom Brafman, answer all these questions and more.

Drawing on cutting-edge research from the fields of social psychology, behavioral economics, and organizational behavior, Sway reveals dynamic forces that influence every aspect of our personal and business lives, including loss aversion (our tendency to go to great lengths to avoid perceived losses), the diagnosis bias (our inability to reevaluate our initial diagnosis of a person or situation), and the “chameleon effect” (our tendency to take on characteristics that have been arbitrarily assigned to us).

Sway introduces us to the Harvard Business School professor who got his students to pay $204 for a $20 bill, the head of airline safety whose disregard for his years of training led to the transformation of an entire industry, and the football coach who turned conventional strategy on its head to lead his team to victory. We also learn the curse of the NBA draft, discover why interviews are a terrible way to gauge future job performance, and go inside a session with the Supreme Court to see how the world’s most powerful justices avoid the dangers of group dynamics.

Every once in a while, a book comes along that not only challenges our views of the world but changes the way we think. In Sway, Ori and Rom Brafman not only uncover rational explanations for a wide variety of irrational behaviors but also point readers toward ways to avoid succumbing to their pull.



Product Details


Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Recently we have seen plenty of irrational behavior, whether in politics or the world of finance. What makes people act irrationally? In a timely but thin collection of anecdotes and empirical research, the Brafman brothers—Ari (The Starfish and the Spire), a business expert, and Rom, a psychologist—look at sway, the submerged mental drives that undermine rational action, from the desire to avoid loss to a failure to consider all the evidence or to perceive a person or situation beyond the initial impression and the reluctance to alter a plan that isn't working. To drive home their points, the authors use contemporary examples, such as the pivotal decisions of presidents Lyndon B. Johnson and George W. Bush, coach Steve Spurrier and his Gators football team, and a sudden apparent epidemic of bipolar disorder in children (which may be due more to flawed thinking by doctors making the diagnoses). The stories are revealing, but focused on a few common causes of irrational behavior, the book doesn't delve deeply into the psychological demons that can devastate a person's life and those around him. (June)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

Praise for SWAY*

"A breathtaking book that will challenge your every thought, Sway hovers above the intersection of Blink and Freakonomics."--Tom Rath, coauthor of the New York Times #1 bestseller How Full Is Your Bucket?

“Now we know why no one ever coined the phrase ‘rational exuberance.’ Behind the surprising ways we all make choices, the Brafmans find biology, humanity, and the wisdom of our collective experience. As a longtime student of how financial decisions are made, I found their insights utterly fascinating. Once I started reading, I couldn’t stop—and I suspect the Brafmans could tell you exactly why!”
--Sallie Krawcheck, CEO, Citi Global Wealth Management

"Count me swayed--but in this instance by the pull of entirely rational forces. Ori and Rom Brafman have done a terrific job of illuminating deep-seated tendencies that skew our behavior in ways that can range from silly to deadly. We'd be fools not to learn what they have to teach us."--Robert B. Cialdini, author of New York Times bestseller Influence

“Brilliant.”
—Klaus Schwab, chairman of the World Economic Forum

"A page-turner of an investigation into how our minds work . . . and trick us. Think you behave rationally? Read this book first."--Timothy Ferriss, author of the New York Times #1 bestseller The 4-Hour Workweek

 "Sway helped me recognize an aspect of irrational behavior in my experimental work in physics. Sometimes I have jumped into some research that didn't feel quite right . . . but some irrational lure, such as the hope of quick success, pulled me in."--Martin L. Perl, 1995 Nobel Laureate in Physics


*DISCLAIMER: If you decide to buy this book because of these endorsements, you just got swayed. One of the psychological forces you’ll read about in Sway is our tendency to place a higher value on opinions from people in positions of prominence, power, or authority.

(But you should still buy the book.)


"If you think you know how you think, you'd better think again! Take this insightful, delightful trip to the sweet spot where economics, psychology, and sociology converge, and you'll discover how our all-too-human minds actually work."--Alan M. Webber, founding editor of Fast Company magazine

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Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars
4.0 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting but too much stuffing May 19 2009
By Mark
Format:Hardcover
Sway attempts to provide some simple and concrete rules about the 'forces' that drive us. There are interesting anecdotes and the presentation is well conceived: the authors make their points clearly and frame their ideas in a way the reader can apply to his or her own experience. However, I found that they sometimes got a bit carried away with / over-applied their simple ideas, and that a much thinner book could have carried equal weight.

Overall, it was a somewhat enjoyable read with a few thought-provoking sections. I recently read 'Predictably Irrational', and found that to be a much better book.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Swaying in the wind Jan. 29 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Some interesting ideas, a survey of some of the ideas in the literature, tons of examples.

But overall, doesn't really answer the question about WHY we are swayed, but quite a lot of WHEN we are swayed and HOW we are swayed. It seems to wander all over the map, snippets here and there, back to this, ahead to that...

Could use a bit more hard core summary -- jut when we are attracted to irrational behaviour and why. Why do we engange in irrational behaviour? Naming it doesn't explain it. Why are we programmed to ovoid loss even at the expense of winning? Why to we hate to see someone else win?

The book needs a bit more structure, a bit more focus. Every chapter is sort of the same with new examples.

Anyway, some interesting annecdotes, but ultimately the book fails to move.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By Robert Morris HALL OF FAME TOP 10 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
The Brothers Brafman are like the Brothers Heath (Chip and Dan, co-authors of Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others and forthcoming Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard) in that they seem to have an insatiable curiosity about what may, at first, seem to be aberrational human behavior but is in fact commonplace. In their book Sway, the Brafmans seek answers to questions such as these: Why would skilled and experienced physicians made decisions that contradict their years of training? What psychological forces underlie our own irrational behaviors? How do these forces creep up on us? When and why are we most vulnerable to them? How do they shape our business and personal relationships? When and how do they put finances, even our lives, at risk? And why don't we realize when we're being swaying?

The Brafmans obviously have a sense of humor. How else to explain chapter titles such as "The Swamp of Commitment" in which they discuss how Florida's then football coach, Steve Spurrier, dominated the SEC conference because the other coaches in the conference were loss averse and committed to a "grind-it-out-and-hold-in-to-the-ball offensive strategy. He played to win; they played not to lose. He introduced the "Fun-n-Gun" offense that scored more points in less time and attracted better recruits. In anther chapter, "The Hobbit and the Missing Link," they focus on a precocious young Dutch student named Eugene Dubois (1858-1940) who, after earning his degree in medicine, marriage, starting a career as well as a family, decided to seek what was then believed to be the missing link between apes and the more humanlike Neanderthals. He found it in the East Indies but both he and his discovery was largely ignored. Why?
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