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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book - controversial, but well founded,
What distinguishes Predictable Irrational from the rest is very interesting real life examples and descriptions of some psychological experiments. Dan Ariely does not have complex discussions about psychology, instead he uses amusing examples to clearly illustrate his points. My favorite chapter is related to the effect of relativity and anchoring. Why, for example, have salaries of CEOs increased dramatically after federal security regulators forced companies to disclose them? Or, why are people willing to pay ridiculous prices for luxury items, which does cost so little to produce?
We can train ourselves to be better decision-makes. In fact, decision-making is a key life skill. We may be able to overcome the illusions Dan Ariely talks about, by leaning about them. This is not easy as some illusions are quite hard to recognize. However, this does not mean that we should not try. It is like leaning to swim: at the beginning, people are afraid to swim. It is known psychological bias, but then people learn to overcome this bias by a series of drills using proven techniques. For example, I'm sure that when you start comparing prices in department stores, you will recall Dan Ariely's book and make better choices.
I highly recommend it.
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Reality is absolutely relative.,
As I worked my way through the first few chapters, I was reminded of a joke I heard years ago. This fellow arrived just in time to tee off for another round of golf with three friends. They played every Saturday morning. "Hey, I've got great news! Just bought the best hearing aids that money can buy. They cost $8,000 each but they're worth every penny. It's a whole new life for me. Never been happier." "You spent $16,000 on two hearing aids? That seems expensive." "Nah, like I said, worth every penny." "What kind is it?".... The fellow glanced at his watch. "Exactly 7:30."To paraphrase Descartes: It is if I think it is.
Also, Ariely shares what he learned about the differences between conventional economics and behavioral economics. Contrary to "the far-reaching conclusions" that generations of economists have developed "about everything from taxation and health-care policies to the pricing of goods and services," asserts that human beings are far less rational than standard economic theory assumes. "Moreover, these irrational behaviors of ours are neither random nor senseless. They are systematic, and since we repeat them again and again, they are predictable." (Hence this book's title.) Ariely makes a convincing, at times humorous but nonetheless rational argument to support modification of standard economics, "to move it away from naive psychology (which often fails the tests of reason, introspection, and most important - empirical scrutiny)." He collaborated with a number of colleagues when conducting various experiments that enabled them to "slow human behavior to a frame-by-frame narration of events, isolate individual forces, and examine those forces carefully and in detail." The results of the experiments illustrate general principles of human behavior (e.g. the decision-making process) within and beyond the workplace.
Finally, I admire the extent to which Ariely succeeds in explaining the fundamentals of economics and social science for a reader such as I who knows essentially nothing about either. (Oh sure, I have some scraps of information and countless opinions but....) For example, in Chapter 9, Ariely describes an experiment that he conducted with two MIT professors to answer questions that include "How to explain violence? Why does it happen? Is it an outcome of history, or race, or politics - or is there something fundamentally irrational in us that encourages conflict, that causes us to look at the same event and, depending on our point of view, see it in totally different terms...We came up with a simple test - one in which we would not use religion, politics, or even sports as the indicator. We would use glasses of beer."(I do have extensive prior experience with beer!) The details of this experiment are best revealed within the narrative but I will indicate that the material in this chapter provides a number of revelations that help to explain "the hidden forces that shape our decisions."
Congratulations to Dan Ariely on a brilliant achievement!
16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars People Are Predictably Interested In More Than Money,
I would like to observe, however, that such experiments have to be taken with a grain of salt when people know that they are experiments or reflect unexpected questions rather than serious looks at on-going behavior in areas where people have a lot of experience. For instance, the book looks at whether and at what price Duke students will sell basketball tickets they have just put a lot of effort into getting. Clearly, there are factors other than profit that motivated the buying in the first place. Most students probably wanted to get lucky and go to the game. Selling a ticket under these circumstances denies the opportunity to go to the game. A ticket broker would make a rational decision about whether to hire students to try get a ticket this way, but a student who does this a few times wouldn't. Study the ticket broker and you'll get more economic behavior. Study the student who wants to go the game and you won't. So why should we be surprised?
I remember being a subject of a lot of these experiments as a student. If the experiment struck me as particularly stupid, I would often feel rebellious and do things to act in noneconomic ways just to prove I was a person. I didn't see that effects like those are being studied here.
If you want to learn about human behavior, I suggest you study all of the motives . . . not just try to understand the economic motives.
In addition, some of the experiments probably depend in part on the common meaning of certain words being different than the definition that a professor would use. I think the experiments about certainty and probability wording may be tainted by that problem.
Professor Ariely is a clever fellow, but I think he stretches his conclusions further than they deserve. He's also interested in finding ways to make people look stupid rather than appreciating the genius that most people exhibit routinely. I couldn't help feeling that there was too much economic motive in his desire to write this book (a P.T. Barnum approach rather than trying to truly educate).
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars What an amazing way to look at the world,
This review is from: Predictably Irrational Revised And Expanded Edition: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions (Paperback)This book has caused to look at myself, and others, in a totally different way which, at the same time, seems quite familiar. Often it is simple concepts we are unaware of that have the most impact when revealed. This book does that and is definitely a keeper.
5.0 out of 5 stars Adored it,
This review is from: Predictably Irrational, Revised and Expanded Edition: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions (Kindle Edition)I cannot wait to read the rest of Ariely's publications. I highly recommend this book along with all of Ariely's TEDtalks.
5.0 out of 5 stars Comprehensive and Highly Readable,
This review is from: Predictably Irrational Revised And Expanded Edition: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions (Paperback)'Predictably Irrational' is a fantastic book! Dan Ariely engages his readers with his highly readable writing style but still manages to cover a very wide array of concepts and biases that play on each and every one of us on a daily basis. From the power of 'free' to the finite nature of self-control to the seemingly irrelevant difference of mere pennies on our decision making (and a host of other topics), Dan takes readers seamlessly idea to idea - making for an eye-opening read that fits nicely on the shelf next to 'Thinking Fast and Slow' and 'Blink'.
The only downside to this book, and those other two mentioned above, is that they really make you aware of just how little control you really have.
This is a great book. Highly recommended to those who want to know more about how we think (or don't think as the case may be).
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thoughtful, Interesting, Enjoyable,
4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Change the way you think!,
This review is from: Predictably Irrational Revised And Expanded Edition: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions (Hardcover)This book grabbed me and wouldn't let me go. I read most of it in one sitting. It challenges the way we think we think and opens our eyes to how irrational we all are. A must read.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book and Provider,
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Must Read,
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Predictably Irrational Revised And Expanded Edition: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions by Dan Ariely (Paperback - April 19 2010)
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