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The Winner's Curse: Paradoxes and Anomalies of Economic Life Hardcover – 1 Dec 1991

4.3 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 230 pages
  • Publisher: The Free Press (1 Dec. 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0029324653
  • ISBN-13: 978-0029324653
  • Product Dimensions: 2.5 x 16.5 x 24.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,160,509 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

By unraveling a series of real-world puzzles with philosophical and practical implications, Thaler illuminates some fairly abstruse ideas in an entertaining way.... The best minds in economics today, as Thaler's provocative book suggests, are trying to supplement [insights into markets and prices] with a broader understanding of what makes people tick.--Christopher Farrell "Business Week "

Richard Thaler ... stylishly recounts empirical findings that skewer hitherto sheltered economic beliefs.--Lola L. Lopes "Contemporary Psychology "


By unraveling a series of real-world puzzles with philosophical and
practical implications, Thaler illuminates some fairly abstruse ideas in an
entertaining way.... The best minds in economics today, as Thaler's
provocative book suggests, are trying to supplement [insights into markets
and prices] with a broader understanding of what makes people tick.
--Christopher Farrell "Business Week "


Richard Thaler ... stylishly recounts empirical findings that skewer
hitherto sheltered economic beliefs.
--Lola L. Lopes "Contemporary Psychology "

"By unraveling a series of real-world puzzles with philosophical and practical implications, Thaler illuminates some fairly abstruse ideas in an entertaining way.... The best minds in economics today, as Thaler's provocative book suggests, are trying to supplement [insights into markets and prices] with a broader understanding of what makes people tick."--Christopher Farrell, "Business Week"

"Richard Thaler ... stylishly recounts empirical findings that skewer hitherto sheltered economic beliefs."--Lola L. Lopes, "Contemporary Psychology" --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

From the Back Cover

Richard Thaler challenges the received economic wisdom by revealing many of the paradoxes that abound even in the most painstakingly constructed transactions. He presents literate, challenging, and often funny examples of such anomalies as why the winners at auctions are often the real losers - they pay too much and suffer the "winner's curse" - why gamblers bet on long shots at the end of a losing day, why shoppers will save on one appliance only to pass up the identical savings on another, and why sports fans who wouldn't pay more than $200 for a Super Bowl ticket wouldn't sell one they own for less than $400. He also demonstrates that markets do not always operate with the traplike efficiency we impute to them. Thaler argues that recognizing these sometimes topsy-turvy facts of economic behavior will compel economists, as well as those of us who live by their lights in our jobs and organizations, to adopt a more balanced view of human nature, one reflected in Adam Smith's professed belief that, despite our selfishness, there is something in our nature that prompts us to enjoy, even promote, the happiness of others. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
We highly recommend this classic of economic literature, one of the first (more or less) accessible presentations of the evidence against economic rationality. Economists have assumed, conventionally, that economic choice rests on a foundation of rationality. For instance, economists tend to think that people will put the same value on two mathematically identical offers. Yet laboratory experiments have proven what everyday experience suggests: people are not quite rational. Author Richard H. Thaler, a founding father of behavioral economics, presents convincing exhibits to make the case that the assumption of economic rationality is an awfully big pill to swallow. Stylistically, his book strikes a neat balance between accessibility and obscurity. A reader will need a certain amount of schooling in economics and a great deal of patience with academic prose to wade through every word of every chapter, although the payoff is substantial. However, it is possible for the impatient reader to get the gist by reading the introduction, the first page or two of each chapter and the epilogue. And even that is eminently worthwhile.
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Format: Paperback
This book has some profound insights into the psychology behind economic behaviour and explains a number of the paradoxes of the world of finance and investment. However, I have two issues with it. One: Thaler makes few concessions to those with no understanding of economics or psychology. Two: He continually refers to the sources material from which he draws his conclusions, which breaks the flow. These characteristics make the book pretty heavy going, but if an understanding what makes the world of finance tick is important to you then you a must read it. Just don't expect it to be easy.
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Format: Paperback
Because i worked in a casino for many years a friend lent me this book to answer some of the questions i had about peoples gambling behavior. This book has brought together many studies to answer the problems we can all see but still struggle with.
As with other scientfic books unfortunately, it reads like a manual. If they author had just collaborated with a story teller you would have a great read.
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Format: Paperback
This is a rich topic and Thaler is an acknowledged expert.
He writes very well and this book is accessable to anyone.
You do not need any knowledge of finance or economics to read and enjoy this book.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 4.3 out of 5 stars 14 reviews
80 of 84 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Useful introduction to a controversial field 8 Jun. 2000
By Stephen M. Bainbridge - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
As with any model claiming predictive power, economics rests on a theory of human behavior-specifically, rational choice theory, which posits decisionmakers who are autonomous individuals who make rational choices that maximize their satisfactions. Critics of economics have long complained that rational choice is, at best, an incomplete account of human behavior. The traditional response to that criticism is that rationality is simply an abstraction developed as a useful model of predicting the behavior of large numbers of people and, as such, does not purport to describe real people embedded in a real social order. A theory is properly judged by its predictive power with respect to the phenomena it purports to explain, not by whether it is a valid description of an objective reality. Indeed, important and significant hypotheses often have assumptions that are wildly inaccurate descriptive representations of reality. Accordingly, the relevant question to ask about the assumptions of a theory is not whether they are descriptively realistic, for they never are, but whether they are sufficiently good approximations for the purpose in hand. Until quite recently, empirical research tended to confirm that the rational choice model of human behavior is a good first approximation of how large numbers of people are likely to behave in exchange transactions.
Over the last 10-15 years, however, a new school of economic analysis has emerged that challenges the rational choice model precisely on its predictive power. Empirical and laboratory work by cognitive psychologists and experimental economists has identified a growing number of anomalies in which behavior appears to systematically depart from that predicted by rational choice. Some of the more important examples of these decisionmaking biases include: ** Herd behavior: Why do lemmings leap off that cliff in Norway? What explains fads like Beanie Babies and Pokémon? Herd behavior occurs when a decisionmaker imitates the actions of others, while ignoring his own information and judgment with regard to the merits of the underlying decision. ** The status quo bias: All else being equal, decisionmakers favor maintaining the status quo rather than switching to some alternative state. The status quo bias can lead to market failure where decisionmakers' preference for the status quo perpetuates suboptimal practices. The extent to which behavioral economics calls into question more traditional modes of economic analysis remains sharply contested. At the very least, however, it seems clear that attention must be paid to the possibility that behavioral analysis sheds light on policy issues.
Richard Thaler is one of the foremost behavioral economists. In this (relatively) accessible introduction to this emerging literature, he collects (and revises) a series of articles he wrote for the Journal of Economic Perspectives. As such, there book reads more like an anthology than a coherent whole. Yet, each of the chapters is highly instructive. More important for the general reader, while the selections are all highly rigorous, Thaler steers clear of the sort of recreational mathematics that plagues so much of modern economics. Of particular interest to lay readers, I suspect, will be the chapters on investing. Thaler offers a highly insightful analysis of the various anomalies in capital market behavior that appear to be inconsistent with the standard economic assumptions built into the efficient capital markets hypothesis and the capital asset pricing model. In sum, a useful introduction to the literature.
51 of 54 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Economic behavior puzzles the experts 8 Jun. 2000
By Mark Mills - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Much more fun to read than I expected. I am generally put off by economics books, but this one turned into a fascinating read.
The Winner's Curse lists a series of economic anomalies, the title being one of them. Thaler calls them anomalies since each defies 'classical' economic theory, generally the notion that markets are efficient and participants know what they are doing. Since few would accuse me of knowing what I'm doing when buying stocks, I find myself happily agreeing with Thaler's digs at Ivory tower economists.
The "winner's curse" anomaly is the notion that people who 'bid to win' at an auction, are often sorry that they won. My favorite anomalies included 'loss adversion' (we remember financial disasters, not successes), 'Intertemporal Choice' (our mental 'rate of return' analysis baffles the experts), 'the favorite factor' (yes, bet on the favorite!), and 'calendar effects' (forget about random walks down Wall Street).
27 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How to make money in a pub? 1 Jun. 2001
By fluzao - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
How rational are human beings or how close to the economic models do they act? This book is a collection of articles by Professor Thaler which shows that we quite usually don't behave like theory predicts. Thaler's extensive research (the references are 30 pages long) gives The Winner's Curse a great academic foundation, but its maths that can be skipped and easy language makes the book acessible - and enjoyable - for every one that is just interested in Economics. To sum up, if you are studying or working with Economics, you should read this book. It will help you to be skeptical about the theory - just like every scientist should be. If you are reading it just by curiosity, it will enhance your skills when your are talking about the economy at a local pub. Actually, The Winner's Curse teaches you how to make money even in a pub. It worths the money. It's an excellent book.
27 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thoughtful but stimulating exploration of consumer behavior 10 Sept. 1997
By orioncap@bellatlantic.net - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This book is an excellent introduction to consumer behavior, especially behavioral finance. While it reads at times like an anthology, the book covers many discrete aspects of consumer behavior. By consumer behavior, it is meant consumer risk-taking. Many solid examples, especially in the financial arena. If you are a contrarian investor, then this book is for you--identifying why the "herd" often behaves in the manner that it does with respect to financial decisions. This book will pay for itself many times over, if only you apply it to future investment decisions
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly Recommended! 15 July 2005
By Rolf Dobelli - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
We highly recommend this classic of economic literature, one of the first (more or less) accessible presentations of the evidence against economic rationality. Economists have assumed, conventionally, that economic choice rests on a foundation of rationality. For instance, economists tend to think that people will put the same value on two mathematically identical offers. Yet laboratory experiments have proven what everyday experience suggests: people are not quite rational. Author Richard H. Thaler, a founding father of behavioral economics, presents convincing exhibits to make the case that the assumption of economic rationality is an awfully big pill to swallow. Stylistically, his book strikes a neat balance between accessibility and obscurity. A reader will need a certain amount of schooling in economics and a great deal of patience with academic prose to wade through every word of every chapter, although the payoff is substantial. However, it is possible for the impatient reader to get the gist by reading the introduction, the first page or two of each chapter and the epilogue. And even that is eminently worthwhile.
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