book report: predictably irrational

finished reading ‘predictably irrational: the hidden forces that shape our decisions’ by dan ariely, professor of behaviorial economics at duke university .

it was a worthy read. here are some excerpts i found intelligently inspiring (and extremely logical).

chapter: the fallacy of supply and demand

…as Mark Twain once noted about Tom Sawyer, “Tom had discovered a great law of human action, namely, that in order to make a man covet a thing, it is only necessary to makee the thing difficult to attain.” … “If Tom had been a great and wise philosopher… he would now have comprehended that work consists of whatevera body is obliged todo, and that play consists of whatever a body is not obliged to do.” … Mark Twain further observed: “There are wealthy gentlemen in England who drive four-horse passenger-coaches twenty or thirty miles on a daily line in the summer because the privilege costs them considerable money; but if they were offered wages for the service, that would turn it into work, and then they would resign.”

chapter: the cost of social norms

…we live simultaneously in two different worlds – one where social norms prevail, and the other where market norms make the rules…market norms are not just about effort – they relate to a broad range of behaviors, including self-reliance, helping, and individualism. Would simply getting people to thinkabout money influence them to behave differently in these respects?

after exploring the premise in a series of experiments (which is what ariely does throughout the book), the answer was:

Indeed, just thinking about money makes us behave as most economists believe we behave -and less like the social animals we are in our daily lives. 

chapter: beer and free lunches

We usually think of ourselves as sitting in the driver’s seat, with ultimate control over the decisions we make and the direction our life takes; but, alas, this perception has more to do with our desires – with how we want to view ourselves – than with reality. 

i read this book because i heard dan speak at the entertainment gathering conference. he was smart, dynamic and funny… and made logical points and rational analogies. maybe i paid so much attention because i was transcribing his talk in real time (not as easy as you’d think). but i’m glad i did.

if you read it, i hope you enjoy it as much as i did.

~ ~ ~ 

ps – my favorite speaker at the eg conference was david pogue, personal tech reporter at the nytimes. he was hilarious. 


About janetti !

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