Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions by Dan Ariely
Book 45 of 50 for the New Author Challenge
Book 13 of 55 for the Countdown Challenge (2008)
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I first learned about Predictably Irrational from reading a post on My Friend Amy's blog. This book is listed by Newsweek as one of 50 books for our time. So, Amy decided to host a collaborative project where book bloggers could choose one book on the list to read before the end of the year and give our $0.02 about whether or not we agree with Newsweek's assessment (see the reviews for the other books here). This was the book I signed up for, and for me, the short answer is YES.
Dan Ariely is a behavioral economist at MIT. His research focuses on studies that really impact each of us in our day-to-day interactions and prove that we really aren't as rational as we think we are. The book explains why we love things that are free, how marketers use decoys to get us to do exactly what they want, and why expensive medicines seem to work better than cheaper ones. Lots of pertinent societal issues are discussed with moral, ethical, and economic consequences including self-control, honesty, passion, and procrastination.
I found myself talking about this book to anyone who would listen to me this week and even read sections out loud to my husband (who agrees he must now read it!). While it might bother some, I appreciated Ariely's thoughtful commentary and extrapolations on how his data could be interpreted in other aspects of society including the home, workplace, and in Washington. I was truly enlightened as the author exposes some of the forces that influence the decisions I make everyday and I hope I will be more thoughtful in using my purchasing power, in making career decisions, and in choosing how I spend my time.
The book has conversational tone and uses sarcasm which doesn't always translate well on the printed page, in my opinion. I could have lived without the squirm-inducing chapter that discussed sexual arousal. But other than that, I think this book is really readable, thought-provoking, and would be really fun to discuss with others. I definitely recommend it, especially for those who have enjoyed Freakonomics or Malcolm Gladwell's books.
Click here to listen to some excerpts from the book.
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