Predictably Irrational

  • by Dan Ariely
  • Narrated by Simon Jones
  • 7 hrs and 27 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Why do our headaches persist after taking a one-cent aspirin but disappear when we take a 50-cent aspirin? Why does recalling the 10 Commandments reduce our tendency to lie, even when we couldn't possibly be caught? Why do we splurge on a lavish meal but cut coupons to save 25 cents on a can of soup? Why do we go back for second helpings at the unlimited buffet, even when our stomachs are already full? And how did we ever start spending $4.15 on a cup of coffee when, just a few years ago, we used to pay less than a dollar?When it comes to making decisions in our lives, we think we're in control. We think we're making smart, rational choices. But are we? In a series of illuminating, often surprising experiments, MIT behavioral economist Dan Ariely refutes the common assumption that we behave in fundamentally rational ways. Blending everyday experience with groundbreaking research, Ariely explains how expectations, emotions, social norms, and other invisible, seemingly illogical forces skew our reasoning abilities.Not only do we make astonishingly simple mistakes every day, but we make the same types of mistakes, Ariely discovers. We consistently overpay, underestimate, and procrastinate. We fail to understand the profound effects of our emotions on what we want, and we overvalue what we already own. Yet these misguided behaviors are neither random nor senseless. They're systematic and predictable - making us predictably irrational.From drinking coffee to losing weight, from buying a car to choosing a romantic partner, Ariely explains how to break through these systematic patterns of thought to make better decisions. Predictably Irrational will change the way we interact with the world - one small decision at a time.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Good lessons, mediocre science?

The book contains interesting insights and valuable points that could help anyone better understand their behavior and the behavior of those around them. That said, the author cooses to attack psychological phenomenon with economic theory - an approach that completely ignored information and game theory and causes, in my opinion, fatal incompleteness to nearly every study presented in the book. For example, the author talks about giving away free $10 Amzon gift certificates in the mall, versus allowing people to purchase $20 gift certificates at a discount of more than $10. A large majority of participants opted to get te free gift certificate, even though it was worth less money. According to the author, and his economic theory, this makes no sense and the participants failed to act rationally. The author did not even briefly consider the information assymetry and its potential effect: HE knows its a real gift certificate, but as far as the participants know its a fake gift certificate, or it doesn't work right, or something is wrong with the study, they simply don't want to take their wallet out in public, or they don't want to wait for change. Trust, game, and information theory are not considered, and so many rational behaviors are hand-waved away as irrational. The author consistently fails to consider trust and information availability and the necessary impact on behaviorsin a frustrating manner.
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- William Stanger

Well researched, well written, & well read

"Behavioral economics" - what this book is about - is the missing link between economic theory and how real consumers behave. More than a fascinating glimpse into our irrational decision-making processes, marketers and entrepreneurs will learn a lot about their customers.

Bonus points go to the author for actually conducting most of the research in the book (along with his MIT colleagues). Readers win because, in addition to well documented findings, we are treated to insightful and often funny stories about the studies themselves. By adding context to the research, the findings are much more memorable than dry statistics and analysis.

The narrator is thoroughly engaging and does a fabulous job telling the numerous stories and preserving the author's wit. My mind didn't wander as much, so I remembered more and rewound less.

Finally, BRAVO to the publisher and Audible for including a downloadable supplement that includes the graphs and illustrations from the print edition. THIS PRACTICE SHOULD BE STANDARD. I've listened to many non-fiction books, only to later see the print edition and discover how much visual content I missed. THANK YOU for truly delivering on the promise of audio non-fiction: spoken word text that preserves the unspoken, visual content of the author's work.
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- Stephen

Book Details

  • Release Date: 02-19-2008
  • Publisher: HarperAudio