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Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Dan Ariely really seems to have sussed things out: his rational thinking when most of us would get over excited about a deal is refreshing, and interesting. I like the way he dissects things for you, yet leaves you time to think about the deals as well. He lets you make your mind up about what you'd do, then he usually runs an experiment - then you see how you faired with other people.

Great read for anyone into marketing, psychology, human sociology and behaviours in the world. Also a good read for those of you who can be sucked in by marketing, targeted adverts and other forms of selling.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 15 October 2014
This is an interesting book written from the standpoint of a college lecturer who has conducted psychological and sociological experiments to try to ascertain how far our decisions and choices are rational. He found that we are much less logical and rational than we like to think. For example, we are so influenced by the offer of a free gift that we will buy things that we do not really want or things which are really poor value, in order to get the 'free' item. It is not an academic book; the style is breezy and humorous and it is easy to understand. It does have the academic background of his teaching and research and he expounds the influence of his findings on, for example, economic theory.
This is a book for the thinking person who is interested in extending his understanding of the way the world functions. It isn't pop psychology and it won't change anybody's life. It is a little more serious than that, but it is still a fairly easy and entertaining read. I felt that the writer must be a good teacher and a likeable person.
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VINE VOICEon 18 March 2008
As others have mentioned, this book does suffer in comparison somewhat to Dubner and Levitt's wonderful Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything. For me at least the foremost reason is that this is one of those books that would benefit from having a European edition. Much of the cultural context and the examples are highly US-centric. Indeed, I suspect some of the behavioural experiments performed might elicit different results in Europe, but this doesn't seem to have pervaded this work. and this is odd, considering the author is not a native of the US [Note: any European behavioural economists or research students might care to reflect on this for a moment and wonder if there is any research mileage here].

Many of the experiments are interesting in a limited way, but manage to have rather localised results extrapolated to reach some questionable conclusions. And he does sometimes have a tendency to be rather unsubtle and repetitious in hammering home a point, as if he's writing for a particularly dim first-year undergraduate: the first chapter is a case in point.

If all this sounds like a litany of whinges, please don't let it put you off, because this is actually a very interesting book. Ariely generally writes in an engaging, crisp and sometimes witty style. His explanations are concise and mostly work pretty well in a non-academic context.

While you may not agree with everything you read here (in fact, some of it I vehemently disagreed with) you might at least begin to ask yourself questions that you may not have stopped to consider. You may even start to notice some of the things Ariely talks about a little more closely. That can't be a bad thing.

[I wanted to give this 3 and a half stars, but have rounded up to four because 3 sounds rather harsher than it deserves]
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on 11 April 2014
Had this on my 'to read list' and ordered straight away after watching Dan Ariely, Daniel Kahneman and others talk about the concepts in a TV programme - using passersby to re-enact some of the examples of seemingly irrational behaviour given in their books.

I really enjoyed the book as it was an easy read but still interesting - taking a complicated subject and simplifying it. Some of the criticism between Kahneman's thinking fast and slow and predictable irrational is the over simplification but this worked for me due to limited time to sit, read and understand the ideas put forward, sure I will read Kahneman's for a deeper understanding in the future.

Prior to this I really enjoyed Blink (Gladwell) and I’m currently reading Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion (Cialdini) in a similar way.

Recommended.
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on 26 July 2011
In this book, Ariely presents his experiments on a range of topics, which produce some perhaps surprising results. this book is similar in nature to the myriad of other popular economics books available, such as Freakonomics and The Undercover Economist, but tackles different subjects, so don't be worried that you'll just be reading the same stuff again. Ariely puts forward lots of interesting points, and the book is certainly an enjoyable read, but at some points I was unsure about how accurate some of the claims were. I'm not an economist, but a lot of the experiments seem to be based on fairly small samples, and a lot of Ariely's conclusions seems to be based on assumptions and speculation on his part. This book is definitely worth a read, and it gets you thinking, but I would be wary about accepting everything Ariely says.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 17 June 2010
Ariely does a good job of writing a readable account of some popular psychology, riding the current buzz of behavioural economics. The two good aspects of the book in my opinion are the strong belief in the experimental method and the amusing examples used.

So if you are new to the field and want a relatively easy introduction, without the need to understand complex psychological phenomena, Arieli is likely to be a good choice. The examples have been carefully chosen to cover the most common / interesting examples from everyday life and it was written primarily with an Anglo-Saxon (and within that tilt to American) audience in mind.

I assume that few readers who are seriously interested in either behavioural economics or psychology more broadly will read Ariely for anything more than amusement value, so a four star rating is in order. For a reader looking to understand the mechanisms described in more depth, or potentially to design policies taking the principles described into account, the book is likely to fall short. In some cases Ariely does not provide sufficient detail to allow the reader to draw their own conclusions on the validity of the experiments described, in others he simplifies / does not do a thorough enough due dilligence on the cases provided (the taste example with Coke and pepsi being one case) to be able to provide the reader with a reasonable answer. While this is unlikely to detract much from the readability in general, some more academically minded readers might start doubting other cases where he provides little info as well.

As far as writing goes, an easy 50 pages could be saved if the book did not often adopt the game show style of building the suspense before providing the relatively obvious answers - something that starts grating towards the end.

All in all a 5/5 for using mechanisms to get as wide a readership as possible for some very sound concepts, and perhaps a 3/5 in actually adequately bringing across necessary scientific rigour or drawing conclusions, which will get readers to act differently.
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on 23 September 2010
I know nothing about economics or business and usually waste my time on various volumes of chicklit but I saw a few videos of the author Dan Ariely talking about cognitive illusions and was immediately drawn to this book. It's fascinating and written in such an engaging way. Reviewers of this book are right - it's not an academic paper and there is some generalisation. However, I think as a pop psychology book, it is necessary to be more general and a lot less specific than one would be in a research-led paper. I read a similar book called "Freakonomics" recently too but it really pales in comparison to this mainly because Ariely conducts his own experiments which give us first hand insight into his frankly ingeniously inventive methods of researching human behaviour without it being obvious to the participant. It's also written in a very humourous and self-deprecating way. The structure and language is so accessible and clear which can't be said for academic writing. I think he puts a personal perspecitve on the conclusions of all his experiments and rather than presenting this self-righteously, he gives some great, humourous examples of how he has also been susceptible to irrationality. I'm trying to write a balanced review but I can't really think of anything negative to say about this book so that's why I'm givng it five stars.
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on 22 July 2011
The idea behind this book is that people don't always behave rationally - and that this exposes the faultlines in classical economics. The title slightly gives the game away by suggesting that this is 'predictable'. It is - no economist really believes that all people act rationally (ie always in their own interests, all the time).
That said, it's a good rattle-through read and certainly a good way to pass a couple of hours. It's just that Tim Harford and others are better.
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on 17 July 2015
Woah, man! Just check out that picture on the cover. That's what the inside of your head will look like after reading this book! Well, pinker, and with more drippy bits, but you get the idea.
NOTE: Please do not remove your head and look inside for comparative purposes.
In all seriousness, this book blew me away, by demonstrating aspects of human behaviour which is hard-wired into us. You will be shocked - I was - by just how easy we can be manipulated, and you'll be nodding along as you recognise all the times when you've fallen foul of these precise conditions. Even wondered why it takes you an hour to decide between brands of painkillers, when one is cheaper but the other is on special...? If you have, then man up and stick a plaster on it. But also, read this book, because it will tell you exactly why you find it so damn difficult to make that choice. It won't help you the next time you've got a pounding headache and Nurofen is half-off but still twice the price of ADSA's own bran paracetamol, but at least then you'll understand. And if your head explodes, and covers passers-by in pinky, drippy bits, try and have a look before you expire - I reckon it'll look just like this cover.
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on 31 March 2013
Providing my first real introduction to theories of behavioural economics, Ariely's take on patterns of human consumption is as accessible as it is informative. He relies on a number of practical case studies, observations and real experiments taken from academic research studies that examine the human decision-making process, with fascinating conclusions.

When it comes to creating price architecture, range planning, merchandising and retail store placement, the fundamental theories that Ariely walks you through are immensely valuable. People vary and your `target audience' will never be exactly the homogonized group you plan them to be, but he also proves that with the application of some basic, well-proven theories, you could transform the bottom line of your sales strategy.

Consumer behaviour might seem unfathomable at times, but if you discover the secrets behind how we think, you can start to plan the way we act, shop and ultimately buy. The only downside is that your colleagues may soon tire of your endless creative brainstorm contributions always starting with, 'As Dan Ariely has shown us...'.
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