Predictably Irrational, Revised and Expanded Edition: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions Lowest Price!

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How do we think about money?
What caused bankers to lose sight of the economy?
What caused individuals to take on mortgages that were not within their means?
What irrational forces guided our decisions?
And how can we recover from an economic crisis?

In this revised and expanded edition of the New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestseller Predictably Irrational, Duke University’s behavioral economist Dan Ariely explores the hidden forces that shape our decisions, including some of the causes responsible for the current economic crisis. Bringing a much-needed dose of sophisticated psychological study to the realm of public policy, Ariely offers his own insights into the irrationalities of everyday life, the decisions that led us to the financial meltdown of 2008, and the general ways we get ourselves into trouble.

Blending common experiences and clever experiments with groundbreaking analysis, Ariely demonstrates how expectations, emotions, social norms, and other invisible, seemingly illogical forces skew our reasoning abilities. As he explains, our reliance on standard economic theory to design personal, national, and global policies may, in fact, be dangerous. The mistakes that we make as individuals and institutions are not random, and they can aggregate in the market—with devastating results. In light of our current economic crisis, the consequences of these systematic and predictable mistakes have never been clearer.

Packed with new studies and thought-provoking responses to readers’ questions and comments, this revised and expanded edition of Predictably Irrational will change the way we interact with the world—from the small decisions we make in our own lives to the individual and collective choices that shape our economy.

  • Amazon Sales Rank: #1565 in Books
  • Published on: 2009-06-01
  • Released on: 2009-05-19
  • Original language: English
  • Number of items: 1
  • Binding: Roughcut
  • 400 pages

Features

  • ISBN13: 9780061854545
  • Condition: NEW
  • Notes: Brand New from Publisher. No Remainder Mark.

Made me think through some things I’d overlooked about market behavior5
I have been thinking about economics seriously for nearly 30 years. Classical economics is built to no small degree on the notion that people will generally act in their own best self interest, after rationally and intelligently examining their options. This fit my world view fine in my first career as an engineer (BS and MS in Electrical Engineering).

From my 2nd Career as a Business Development person (MBA), I began to have to deal with people’s tendency to not entirely think things through.

Here in this book, we have a professor who runs socioeconomic tests on his MBA students. These students are smart enough, worldly enough, experienced enough, and educated enough to approximate the standard economic assumptions and produce reasonably rational behavior.

Guess what. Even among broad experiments conducted on multiple MBA classes over time, one can predictably pre-bias the outcome of a particular run of a socioeconomic experiment by what seeds you plant in the class members’ minds before the experiment. For example, in one experiment in estimating prices, the author requires his students to write the last two digits of their social security numbers on the top of the paper. Simply the act of writing a high number (e.g., 88) versus a low number (e.g., 08) produced statistically significant correlatable influences on the students’ later price estimates. Those compelled to write “88″ at the top of their papers would reliably estimate higher prices than those compelled to write “08″ at the top of their papers, to a statistically significant degree.

Extrapolating to “real life.” Watching Fox News will tend to make you more conservative without you knowing it. Watching MSNBC news will tend to make you more liberal without you knowing it.

If you want to understand “real truth,” you are just going to have to do a little more than self-select your news feeds. You are going to have to seriously consider a diversity of viewpoints.

Moreover, if you have Social Darwinist beliefs as I once did, you may need to re-think the concept of the Poverty Trap. Early pre-conditioning really does make a difference.

Here is the way I think of it as an Engineer. Classical Economic Theory is analogous to Classical Newtonian Physics. There is nothing badly wrong with it, and it is a good approximation for most real world problems at the middle of the distribution.

However, General Relativity is indeed more correct that Classical Newtonian Physics, and the additional knowledge makes a real difference in certain special cases. And, those special cases are sometimes the really important ones. Likewise, Behavioral Economics is adding something very valuable to our knowledge of Classical Economics.

Read this only if you are brave enough to contemplate that the world might be a little more complex than we wish it were.

An excellent book which provides valuable insights5
This book and Dan Ariely have recieved a lot of media attention, so I approached the book with some skepticism, thinking that it might be overhyped. I’m pleased to report that my skepticism turned out to be unwarranted.

The book has many strengths, the main one being that it convincingly presents many ways people are wired and/or conditioned to be irrational, usually without even being aware of it. This eye-opening revelation can be a bit disheartening, but the good news is that we can fix at least some of this irrationality by being aware of how it can arise and then making a steady effort to override it or compensate for it. That’s not an easy task, but it can be done. As a simple example, I’ve programmed a realistic exercise schedule into my PDA, and I’ve been very consistent with my exercise because of that. The PDA imposes a discipline on me which I couldn’t otherwise impose on myself (as I know from experience).

The book is also well written, and I would even say enjoyable to read. The many experiments described in the book are presented in a lively way which elicits interest, and Ariely goes into just the right amount of detail — enough to convey the basic experimental designs, results, and plausible interpretations, without boring the reader by getting into esoteric points which are more appropriate for journal papers.

The one criticism I have of the book, which applies to most of Western pscyhology, is that most of the described experiments used US college students as subjects. That raises a serious question regarding the extent to which the results can be generalized to people of the same age who aren’t college students, people of other ages, and people outside the US. Study of cultural psychology reveals that differences due to these factors can be profound, and Ariely himself notes a Korean study where such differences were observed, but he doesn’t really elaborate on the point.

Despite this one criticism, I think this is an excellent and authoritative book, and among the better ones in the “why smart people do dumb things” genre, so I highly recommend it. The insights revealed are both fascinating and practical, if you can muster the discipline to apply them.

Interesting book for the lay audience, less so for the scientist3
A broad survey of how we often make decisions and judgments that ultimately are wrong or not in our best interest, this book is best when it talks about specific issues of economics and rather mundane when it examines general psychological behavior. Mr. Ariely is not a gifted writer, but he is a serviceable one. He also is not shy about citing other people involved in this work. Culturally, he is definitely an Israeli, which means American readers, especially women, may groan when he writes about male/female relationships. The book is front loaded with the interesting material, which focuses on such topics as pricing. Toward the end, the author seems to be out of his depth in his cursory looks at broad topics like dishonesty.

From the standpoint of a scientist, his descriptions of his experiments seem a bit alarming. They seem overly simplistic and more importantly have far too few people surveyed to fully back the conclusions of the work. I can only hope that the author, in trying to make the book more accessible to the lay audience, has left out important information on how his work is done.

Overall, I’d say that there is about 1/2 a book worth of interesting material here. That’s probably better than most books today. It tends to have a fairly engaging and humorous style. It’s very accessible (although my mother-in-law, a very bright woman, said to me that a couple of the chapters were tough going). I’d recommend reading the first four chapters and skipping the rest.

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