Recommended Reading : Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions. Dan Ariely. New York: Harper Collins 2008. 280pp.
Review by Jennifer Stepniowski, Pro QC Regional Operations Manager
Dan Ariely’s Predictably Irrational didn’t take very long to get through, but it did prove to be a pleasant surprise among a recent rash of disqualifiers. In fact, I was originally concerned that this choice would be remarkably similar to other “behavioral” economics books I’ve recently spent time perusing. Fortunately, I can say this one stands out among the crowd as a pleasant, informative and witty choice.
Ariely, a MIT professor and general observer of people, gives a fairly broad definition of behavioral economics, referring to it as a combination of psychology and economics. And, throughout the book, he does mesh both fields quite nicely.
Not many people would argue that people are far more irrational than rational as traditional economics would like to have us described. In fact, the entirety of this book is dedicated to reinforcing that statement through various behavioral experiments. And, the results of these experiments did succeed in making me question my every day decisions and the irrationality of it all.
In a nutshell, Ariely’s goal is to “help you fundamentally rethink what makes you and the people around you tick by presenting a wide range of many cases.” And, these amusing cases include “curious, practical entertaining research on eating, shopping, love, money, procrastination, beer, honesty and other areas of life, in an attempt to describe some of their possible implications for life, business and public policy.”
Once I wrapped up the last few pages, I couldn’t resist visiting the website at www.predictablyirrational.com. There’s actually a substantial amount of interesting research and other material available. In the blog, check out the YouTube video Standard vs. Behavioral Economics (Supermen of the Mind). It’s pretty humorous.