Book: Predictably Irrational

Predictably Irrational, Revised And Expanded Edition

by Dan Ariely

Summary: A discussion of the results of a number of surprising experiments from the fields of economics and psychology on how people act and make decisions. This book helps to explain a lot of choices that you see or make in day-to-day life that don’t seem to be the right thing to do.

Intended Audience: Of general interest as an accessible introduction to behavioural economics

Why You Should Read It: This book helps to frame why seemingly rational people can make irrational decisions in circumstances that suggest that the rational decision is easily available. The author details numerous academic experiments and real world examples of this phenomenon and provides plausible explanations for people’s behaviour. If you have trouble making decisions or understanding why you do things like procrastinate, there is very likely something that you can relate to in this book that you can use to improve your situation.

My Takeaways

  • It is very easy to become anchored on an idea based on what you have encountered prior to a situation. You may need to step back and ask why you have made certain assumptions in order to remove this anchor.
  • Emotional engagement can greatly change your behaviour and make it more difficult to clearly analyze a situation. Often, you are unknowingly led to this emotional commitment and ownership by other parties.
  • It is important to consider how you want to shape a system to get the results you are looking for. Many experiments show that people with good intentions will game the system to get the results when there is an easy path to do so.

Recommended?: An entertaining read with lots of really unexpected experimental results. Definitely worth a look.

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