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on 16 June 2017
Economists used to assume that most people made rational decisions but psychologists have proved them wrong. Not only are we irrational, but most of us are irrational in similar ways, hence the title. Even after reading this book, I'd probably still be attracted to a 'free' offer.

Behavioural economics is proving a rich seam for authors, but very few are as entertaining as Dan Ariely. He has an engaging writing style and most of the experiments he recounts are his own, even the delightfully wacky ones, such as giving out free beer or asking young men to complete a questionnaire when sexually aroused. Fortunately, this last one was carried out in the privacy of their own rooms.
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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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on 25 June 2017
Interesting and clearly written. Consequences of the data was not, however, pursued. Fairly short- author has written several books- perhaps less of greater length would be better.
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on 22 April 2015
I really enjoyed listening to this in the car. It makes long journeys fly by. And it is the type of audio cd you can listen to again and again.
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on 2 February 2013
great book, very fast delivery, condition as described.
will highly recommend both the seller and the book itself - definitely worth a read. explains a lot from the crazy and illogical things that we see or do every day.
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on 13 January 2017
Eye opening
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on 24 February 2008
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This is really a popular psychology book about how we behave and how, as the subtitle puts it, hidden forces influence our everyday decisions. So don't be put off by quotes from businessmen and economists in the blurb. I almost was. But I'm glad I wasn't. This is a neat little book with plenty of nuggets of information and insights that you can put to use immediately. You learn things about yourself and other people that seem so obvious you wonder how you'd never noticed them before and you learn why hunches you've had in the past really are right. Each chapter of this book consists of some simple experiments that are designed to probe a different aspect of our decision-making process e.g. how our expectations affect how we experience things and why too many choices can be unhelpful, to mention just two. The experiments are simple and elegant.

They usually consist of asking two or more differently informed groups of students questions about something. Actually, sometimes the author is a bit vague about the exact experimental conditions, how bias was eliminated from the experiment (particularly with respect to how questions were framed [what language was used] and how the participants were chosen [a few samples were decidedly small]) and how the many variables were isolated and controlled. So in that sense we must take Ariely's word for it. Also, he often vaguely summarises the results of these experiments with words such as "more than" and "most" instead of giving figures. If he were giving a lecture I would have asked him to clarify quite a few points. But all in all I think that this was an interesting book albeit a short one. It is a slim volume and the typeface is quite large. I'm a slow reader and I read it comfortably over two days.
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on 25 April 2012
This book is a very enjoyable and interesting read - but I have now read Kahneman's Thinking Fast and Slow.

Here's the quick comparison:

- Ariely's book is pure pop science. Short, entertaining, 1st person, occasionally irritating anecdotal style, but you quickly get the message. However, if you're reading it now (2012), you may have already heard the same thing elsewhere.
Personal view: I found it too anecdotal, and too lightweight.

- Kahneman's book is the real deal. This is the bible of behavioural economics. Everything you need to know, written with clarity and detail, but also enough stories, short exercises and counterintuitive conclusions to keep you turning the pages.
Personal view: Long and challenging, but very rich and rewarding.
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on 14 February 2011
Although Dan Ariely is a professor of Behavioural Economics and Psychology, his writing style makes Predictably Irrational a pleasure to read, and the book covers a wide range of human behaviours seen through the lens of an experimentalist and his research team's results.

And the results are indeed startling in some cases; I particularly liked his analysis of how price has a real and measurable effect on the placebo effect (until we know the truth about the placebo we've taken!), and his openness to include a reflective discussion into the merits associated with placebo treatments.

Prof. Ariely isn't afraid of tackling the ethical and moral implications of his findings however, and I found myself nodding in agreement, and sometime frowning with stormy thoughts as I tried to grapple with the knock-on effect of what he has so eruditely explained in the book.

He covers a wide range of topics and findings, and I'm already re-reading parts of the book more carefully having gone through once at speed.

This is a great introduction to behavioural psychology, and it fits nicely alongside Chialdini's "Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion".
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on 30 March 2008
I bought this having seen Dan Ariely speak at LSE recently. He was an engaging speaker and his research sounded interesting.

Having read the book I was left a bit underwhelmed, because I found that I was already familar with both some of the research and a number of the concepts, and was tempted to give it 3 stars. However on reflection that's probably a bit unfair. This is actually a good book for people interested in learning about the field of behavioural economics. It's nicely written with a chatty style, and some of Ariely's research is very interesting.

Just a few snapshots to give you an idea of what this book covers. He looked at subscription packages for The Economist and found that and obviously bad deal led people to choose an option that was like it but obviously better (because it gave them a way to measure the options). In contrast when there were two options that were different but hard to compare they tended to just go for the cheap option.

In a maths test where subjects were given a cash reward based on the number of problems solved and were given an opportunity to cheat, he found that asking them to recall the Ten Commandments ahead of the test appeared to make them less likely to be dishonest.

And in taste tests people prefer Pepsi to Coke when tasting blind, but prefer Coke to Pepsi when they know in advance when they know what they are going to drink. This suggests that we prime ourselves to enjoy something we expect to enjoy.

If this all sounds 'obvious' to you, to some extent you are right (although there are many examples in this field that are counterintuitive). But people like Ariely make the point that although in a 'common sense' way we know that we are easily influenced and 'irrational', policy is often still made with the assumption in mind that we behave as rational self-maximising economic agents.

One point that can be, and often is, made in return is that although behavioural economics is good at describing seemingly irrational behaviour, it is yet to prove itself as a useful resource for designing better policy (although opt-out, rather than opt-in, approaches to both pension saving and organ donation are arguably influenced by behavioural insights). And in fact Ariely's book is at its weakest when he tries to suggest ways that his research findings might inform policy (I'm not surprised that the bank didn't call him back about his credit card idea!).

So for someone such as me interested in policy the book is enjoyable, but a bit limited in value. However if you are new to this field and interested in finding out more this is a good starting place, and you may well find yourself surprised by some of the findings.
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