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on 12 July 2010
I quite enjoyed Predictably Irrational, though it wasn't quite what I was expecting. This is a better book, though again in part for unexpected reasons.

First up, it's actually quite a personal book. Part of Ariely's pitch is to remember our humanity, particularly in the face of policymakers who assume we are rational, self-interested maximisers. He draws a bit on his own experiences, in particular the very nasty accident that he suffered as a teenager, to point out where biases kick in and how they affect us. The result is a popular book about behavioural science that has a very human feel to it, and that makes it a nice read.

Secondly, as with Predictably Irrational, Ariely has some genuinely interesting and innovative experiments to talk about. The two most interesting bits of research for me were those about 'pointless' work (for example, how your motivation to build Lego models for pay is affected by seeing them being disassembled while you work) and those about how emotions affect short-term decisions which in turn affect long-term behaviour. In the first case I would say there is something quite useful to learn about motivation, even in respect of basic tasks. In the latter it might just make you think twice about decisions you make.

As always, the drawback in this area is how applicable the experimental evidence is in the real world. Though I don't share the view that actually little from behavioural economics experiments holds true elsewhere, we should be alert to the problem. On a similar point, sometimes you do have to query some of the extrapolations made from from fairly specific findings (though I don't share the previous reviewer's scepticism about the research into bonuses - there is a lot more research in this area that points in a similar direction).

Those are minor quibbles though. This is an enjoyable, easy read backed up by interesting research and underpinned by a very personal approach. Given that Ariely's aim is to encourage more human-shaped policy, I'd say his book exemplifies the spirit of his research.
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VINE VOICEon 25 August 2010
I've given this book 5 stars because I read it from cover to cover and learned some useful things. The great benefit of Dan's writing is that he describes his studies clearly, taking a great deal of trouble to make sure you understand them and can imagine what it would have been like to be a subject. He explains the reasons for the studies and discusses what he thinks they mean.

Having read many, many articles in psychology journals describing experiments like this I can say with confidence that Dan's achievement is considerable. Typically, these journal articles are dull, confusing, and without any sense of humanity or humour.

The fact that I disagreed with, or was unconvinced by, most of Dan's conclusions is not important! I was able to make my own analyses without the usual slog of decoding a pile of baffling journals.
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on 19 October 2011
One of the most disturbing aspects of the modern world is how bright and inquisitive children seem to end up losing their innate curiosity as they move through the educational system. I've met many people in their 70s, 80s and 90s who have kept this amazing curiosity but there seems to be a huge gap somewhere between 10 and 60 where knowledge has become an incredible drag. Knowledge seems to be split between being boring but utilitarian or titillating entertainment.

The shear fun of learning is strangely absent in so many books. This book however shows a joyful mind which hunts for the elusive rare beast, an original idea (or even a herd of original ideas)

You learn why you should walk quickly by any notice on a college notice board offering money for some simple tests. The experiments discussed in the book are a delightful mixture of seeing if you're revengeful,motivated by money, have high pain tolerance, trustful etc. At the very least you might end up losing your love for lego. But if your a poor Indian peasant you might end up crying yourself to sleep every night lamenting why you couldn't keep your hand steady and win the big pay off.

Often when I meet people who have kept their childhood curiosity, they have had a difficult path in life. This has forced them to sort the dross, from what is truly important. Perhaps this is why Mr Ariely writes so well. He has faced his own mortality and crawled painfully back from the abyss. He is generous to share his experiences of this time.

But the shear exuberance of his stories, his fondness for his colleagues and his insatiable curiosity bursts forth everywhere in the book. He says he is limited to typing about a page a day, before pain sets in, it is probably this filter that makes his writing so good. With so much to say, a physical limit is perhaps the only way he can condense the material so well.

He has the absolute joyful curiosity of a child as obviously does many of his colleagues/friends. Some of the conversations we get a glimpse of in the book that resulted in experiments most have been truly hilarious. He is more of a Natural philosopher than a scientist,from an era before the pursuit of knowledge became a chore. We need more like him. In a world with nothing but wild problems and deadly predicaments we need people to go back to basics and what is more basic than understanding how we make decisions.

If nothing else, his recipe at the end is worth getting the book for. Looking forward to the full recipe book if it ever breaks free.
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on 20 July 2014
I have given this book 4 stars, because I found it uneven. Some material was very interesting, some less so.
In particular, the relationship between management performance and bonus deserves a book, given its importance in the corporate world.
There were too many pages dedicated to dating on-line, on the other end.
I was also put off by the extensive mention of his rehabilitation program.
Overall, Dan Ariely is a gifted psychologist, but I preferred “Predictably Irrational”, his previous book, and I hope this one shall be revised in the near future.
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on 8 March 2012
Not one of the better popular books about irrationality, I'm afraid. The personal anecdotes (N=1 does not equal data) don't work for me. The research outcomes are described very sketchily (no numbers, just "the outcome confirmed hypothesis X"). Having just finished the book I can't recall any outstanding observation or result or insight. I would recommend "Irrationality" by Stuart Sutherland or "59 Seconds: Think a little, change a lot" by Richard Wiseman instead.
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on 7 June 2010
The book starts off with a questionable link between high bonuses and poor performance. There are so many issues with this chapter alone, so many holes which can be poked in this research (incomparable timeframes for starters), that I nearly stopped reading.

It then follows with mostly obvious observations, such as why internet dating websites have low success rates, why people are naturally biased towards their own ideas and productions, revenge, empathy, labour, and our adaptability - issues essentially discussed in plenty of other books.

Marketing wise, this book has been positioned as an integration of popular psychology and economics, and whilst some credence can be laid to this claim (it partially attempts to de-construct the efficient market hypothesis), it is a shallow integration at best.

If you're new to popular psychology, it serves as a decent introduction. But for anyone else, I wouldn't recommend it.
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on 6 December 2011
A very interesting analysis for things you seem that you have already thought of but surprisingly not very thoroughly...worth to read.
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on 7 September 2013
Excellent, intelligent material, with plenty of insights that can be turned into practical action in a range of different fields.
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on 30 March 2013
Great Book. It is very good to get a perception of how Humans really act. A great perspective of irrationality.
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on 7 February 2011
In this sequel to his bestseller, Predictably Irrational, Dan Ariely, a professor of psychology and behavioral economics, returns to the how and why of human beings' inexplicable thought processes. Through a series of telling, small-scale social experiments, he attempts to quantify such unquantifiables as how satisfaction in work becomes nourished or destroyed, how people value their attractiveness and the attractiveness of others, how humans adapt to adverse or positive circumstances, and how to make pleasure more enduring and annoyances less upsetting. Those who read Ariely's first book might have the context to better appreciate this one, but he doesn't seem to hold anything back as he explains his traumatic physical injuries and the lessons, both painful and joyous, those experiences wrought. The author's warm, direct, compassionate tone, and his willingness to share his frustrations and discoveries, lead getAbstract to recommend this insightful, easy-going tour of the irrational side of the human psyche.
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