Most helpful positive review
24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
Excellent book - controversial, but well founded
on April 3, 2008
Predictable Irrational is probably one of the most remarkable books after Freakonomics. This is a book about the paradoxes of human judgment. All people, regardless who they are, country they live in, jobs they have, or language they speak, make standard mistakes because our brains work in certain ways. Predictable Irrational is not the first book about such phenomena. My other favorite books on this subject include The Paradox of Choice by Barry Schwartz and Gut Feelings: The Intelligence of the Unconscious by Gerd Gigerenzer. Similar ideas are discussed in number of industry specific books, such as the project management book Project Decisions: The Art and Science.
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.