6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Good, with caveats,
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This review is from: Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces that Shape Our Decisions (Hardcover)
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]