• Predictably Irrational

  • The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions
  • By: Dan Ariely
  • Narrated by: Simon Jones
  • Length: 7 hrs and 22 mins
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars (12,195 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Why do our headaches persist after taking a one-cent aspirin but disappear when we take a 50-cent aspirin? Why does recalling the 10 Commandments reduce our tendency to lie, even when we couldn't possibly be caught? Why do we splurge on a lavish meal but cut coupons to save 25 cents on a can of soup? Why do we go back for second helpings at the unlimited buffet, even when our stomachs are already full? And how did we ever start spending $4.15 on a cup of coffee when, just a few years ago, we used to pay less than a dollar?

When it comes to making decisions in our lives, we think we're in control. We think we're making smart, rational choices. But are we? In a series of illuminating, often surprising experiments, MIT behavioral economist Dan Ariely refutes the common assumption that we behave in fundamentally rational ways. Blending everyday experience with groundbreaking research, Ariely explains how expectations, emotions, social norms, and other invisible, seemingly illogical forces skew our reasoning abilities.

Not only do we make astonishingly simple mistakes every day, but we make the same types of mistakes, Ariely discovers. We consistently overpay, underestimate, and procrastinate. We fail to understand the profound effects of our emotions on what we want, and we overvalue what we already own. Yet these misguided behaviors are neither random nor senseless. They're systematic and predictable - making us predictably irrational.

From drinking coffee to losing weight, from buying a car to choosing a romantic partner, Ariely explains how to break through these systematic patterns of thought to make better decisions. Predictably Irrational will change the way we interact with the world - one small decision at a time.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your My Library section along with the audio.

©2008 Dan Ariely (P)2008 HarperCollins Publishers

What listeners say about Predictably Irrational

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars

Good lessons, mediocre science?

The book contains interesting insights and valuable points that could help anyone better understand their behavior and the behavior of those around them. That said, the author cooses to attack psychological phenomenon with economic theory - an approach that completely ignored information and game theory and causes, in my opinion, fatal incompleteness to nearly every study presented in the book. For example, the author talks about giving away free $10 Amzon gift certificates in the mall, versus allowing people to purchase $20 gift certificates at a discount of more than $10. A large majority of participants opted to get te free gift certificate, even though it was worth less money. According to the author, and his economic theory, this makes no sense and the participants failed to act rationally. The author did not even briefly consider the information assymetry and its potential effect: HE knows its a real gift certificate, but as far as the participants know its a fake gift certificate, or it doesn't work right, or something is wrong with the study, they simply don't want to take their wallet out in public, or they don't want to wait for change. Trust, game, and information theory are not considered, and so many rational behaviors are hand-waved away as irrational. The author consistently fails to consider trust and information availability and the necessary impact on behaviorsin a frustrating manner.

259 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Well researched, well written, & well read

"Behavioral economics" - what this book is about - is the missing link between economic theory and how real consumers behave. More than a fascinating glimpse into our irrational decision-making processes, marketers and entrepreneurs will learn a lot about their customers.

Bonus points go to the author for actually conducting most of the research in the book (along with his MIT colleagues). Readers win because, in addition to well documented findings, we are treated to insightful and often funny stories about the studies themselves. By adding context to the research, the findings are much more memorable than dry statistics and analysis.

The narrator is thoroughly engaging and does a fabulous job telling the numerous stories and preserving the author's wit. My mind didn't wander as much, so I remembered more and rewound less.

Finally, BRAVO to the publisher and Audible for including a downloadable supplement that includes the graphs and illustrations from the print edition. THIS PRACTICE SHOULD BE STANDARD. I've listened to many non-fiction books, only to later see the print edition and discover how much visual content I missed. THANK YOU for truly delivering on the promise of audio non-fiction: spoken word text that preserves the unspoken, visual content of the author's work.

190 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Extremely good book

This book deserves the 4-5 stars that many, many, people have given.

I almost did not purchase this title solely because another reviewer said "I read this book already, it was called Blink . . . . " This statement is false. I read Blink just prior to this title. Approximately 10 minutes, out of 7 hours and 27 minutes, is the same as Blink.

Predictably Irrational is highly recommended.

89 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Information Deficit

Psychologist Dan Ariely challenges the conventional economic theory of Rational Choice. Relying on experiments conducted mostly on college students, Ariely uncovers seemingly irrational behavior like procrastination, dishonesty, the lure of the free, emotional decision making, expectations, triggers, choice manipulation, et.al.

Many of his findings ring true, but I see two serious errors that undermine his thesis. First, as the Freakonomics guys always caution, he conflates causation with correlation -- if two things appear to be correlated, that does not necessarily one causes the other, certainly not to the point where irrationality trumps rational choice.

So just because shipping is free if I buy a second book when I only logged in to buy one, that doesn't mean I'll spend an extra $12 to buy something I don't want to save $4 in shipping. I'll do it because I will eventually buy that second book anyway. That Amazon experiences a jump in sales is only temporary -- in the long run, I will buy the same number of books.

A bigger mistake is making incorrect assumptions, ascribing the violation of one assumption as the cause of the violation of another assumption, more specifically, ascribing the lack of full information as irrational behavior, and in addition failing to adequately quantify how we calculate value. Ariely says:

"Standard economics assumes we are rational -- that we know all the pertinent information about our decisions, that we can calculate the value of the different options we face, and that we are cognitively unhindered in weighing the ramifications of each potential choice... But, as the results in this book show, we are all far less rational in our decision making."

I beg to differ. In many experiments, results are often caused by lack of pertinent information than by failure to process available information rationally. The evil twin of this notion is when people are deliberately misled, manipulated into seemingly irrational choices -- poor choices based on lies or distortions (incomplete information) are not therefore irrationality.

Ariely fails to quantify the basic economic concept of utility. Why do I help my neighbor move furniture for free but bristle if he asks for free professional advice? It's purely rational if you quantify the self-gratification I get from doing a favor and knowing I can expect the same in return. Ariely dismisses lack of information and understates the value of utility, concluding instead that we act irrationally.

Failing to appreciate his thesis and his methods (in economics, experimentation on a non-representative set of subjects is no substitute for econometric evaluation of reams of readily available real-world data), I could not enjoy this book. When I listen to a comic novel, I laugh out loud as I walk down the street -- listening to this, I could be heard shouting "No!" and "Wrong!" as I walked down the street.

Nice having Simon Jones (bka Arthur Dent from Hitchhiker's Guide) narrate, but it threw me off a bit -- one line started out as "Life..." and I half expected it to continue as "the universe and everything".

82 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

An Examination of Our Irrational Decisions

What a fascinating book about our choices and the reasons we make the decisions we do. If you have ever wondered why you buy things you hadn't intended on-- this is a book for you. I am hoping that just being aware of the things I do that I can see are irrational will stop because I now have more insight. We will see.

An interesting and entertaining listen.

54 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Fascinating book, great narration!

It's not too often that a person can laugh out loud at a book about economic decision-making. However, this happened to me several times when I listened to this. I wish I could go back to college and study behavioral economics instead of sleeping through my psych classes.
The narrator is very fun to listen to and adds to Dan Areily's cheeky writing style. If you liked Freakonomics, you will love this book.

47 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars

not my piece of cake

The author concludes from the fact that people pay different prices for the same thing (after they are primed with a random number), that people are irrational. From this he concludes that a free market would maybe work with rational people, but since they are irrational, there should be government intervention (doubling gas prices with taxes would not alter consumption in the long run).

He seems to forget who runs the government. The same irrational people, only now with a nuclear arsenal to blow up the world 70 times and crazy police and courts to throw 1 in 100 people in jail and start crazy hopeless wars in far away countries.

He also notices that people don't have the discipline to save and go deeper and deeper into debt. Again he would prefer coercion as a solution (as for most problems).

And who will take care of the coerced savings? The congress no doubt, that spends money faster than a drunker sailor on shore leave. People paid social security premium their whole life and the government has spent each and every cent of it and on top of that ran up 50 trillion in unbacked obligations.

Of course all this irrational behavior has to be explained rationally. Lot's of philosophical short circuits, but what can you expect from a professor who takes place in a federal commission ?

42 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

look at the rating statistics for this book

This book has maintained a high 4.25 rating with over a thousand ratings given to it thus far, so it is clearly the creme of the crop for this phsycho-economic genre. Audible ratings are hard to maintain over the long run unless this book is as outstanding as this one is. As far as the book itself this profesor and slightly mad man along with his cronies are big time ivy league practical jokesters. Half the experiments had me cracking up the way they are presented in this book. This guy is clever, really clever. Enjoy.

39 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Wow

I could only hope everyone would read this book. Perfectly narated and so full of information. I was really spellbound and will most likley have to listen to it again. Thank you Proffessor!

38 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

One of my favorite books this year

I loved almost every page of this book and can't wait to listen to it again slower, so I can remember more of the nifty experiments the author used to study psychology, economics, and the fundamentals of how we think (irrationally!). Ever bought something "on sale" that you don't need? Ever taken home something from a conference or a fair just because it's free? Need a deadline to finish projects? This book helps you understand these questions and helps to answer them.

This is the best book I've read in this genre since Freakonomics.

33 people found this helpful

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Graham
  • 07-14-08

enjoyed each time I listened

Book chosen at relative random but loved it regardless. Could relate to some of the findings from this I have changed my buying and decision making processes.

19 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Musical Truth
  • 07-07-14

An interesting and documented perspective.

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Yes. It has many resonant and interesting angles on the truth behind decision making. A brave attempt at using 'scientific' methods. Quote marks indicate a hint of scepticism over how conclusive small scale complex experiments can be. Much evidence is subjective and too much is anecdotal padding which must be disregarded. Sad to see Ariely quoted recently in defence of Facebook's secret experiments given the level of consent and transparency his own academic research has required. I don't think he would be best pleased.

What did you like best about this story?

It evidences the way so many important decisions are made by people - namely badly.

Which scene did you most enjoy?

Inappropriate question.

If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

Stupid human.

Any additional comments?

One of the best non fiction books currently on audible.

4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Roger
  • 11-05-09

Loved it

I love how humans are irrational but think they are rational generally.

Good if you like to quote facts to your friends,spouses and colleagues :)

Sort of thing you might like if you liked freakonomics.

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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  • John
  • 06-07-09

Well worth a read

I found this book highly insightful, and well worth a read. There are a few chapters where he presents some findings but doesn't really come to any conclusions, but mostly it's a very interesting take on how our irrational behaviour works in specific instances.

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Mr. R. D. Cox
  • 06-06-11

Superb

Although I was already aware of much of the information presented - because I have an interest in the subject - and there is a great deal of info on this subject - this is a superbly well written book and beautifully read

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Jeanette
  • 02-16-11

Excellent Science Factual

This book is excellently constructed, and what an inspired choice of reader in Simon Jones, Arthur Dent from the BBC original Hitch-Hicker's Guide to the Galaxy on Radio 4. Although this is a serious text in its message, it is charming to have a humorous edge given by a a good actor. Ariely's message is enhanced by this presentation, a great pleasure to listen to.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Alan
  • 04-13-10

Interesting

This is an excellent book. It uses the author's research to point out why we act in such Irrational ways. There are some very interesting ideas which should prove useful to most people at some point in their lives. The reader is easy to listen to as well.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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  • William
  • 06-01-09

Thought provoking,

Fantastic book really makes you think about the world around you.

2 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Kesava
  • 02-17-15

Sheer pleasure!

Not read a book recently that gave me a lot to think about and pleasure. Would highly recommend it to anyone.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Jim
  • 09-03-11

A bit thin

Gave up on this after about an hour. Doesn't really cover as much useful material as Cialdini

1 person found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Andy
  • 01-25-16

Very consumer based

I love his TED talks but I was disappointed by how much economics was in his behavioural economic... Also, when the author is a noted public speaker I would MUCH RATHER hear them narrate.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Jacques
  • 01-10-16

Life changing

We all kid ourselves they ee make the right choices. How could we not? The author takes us on a journey that describes the many ways in which our choices are influenced by factors beyond our understanding. Knowledge of how and when these distortions occur is a key to better mastering our lives.

1 person found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Anonymous User
  • 11-28-17

intriguingly facinating

predictably irrational was a great read, not only was it interesting but informative too. well worth the credit. thanks

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • vasily
  • 11-26-17

great book!

thought provoking, funny, good sound.
good introduction to the field of behavioral economics. makes you think

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Elly
  • 08-17-17

Love it

So interesting on so many levels. We think we know how and why we do things. We don't.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Roy Gee
  • 07-26-17

Very interesting research and easily explained

It would have been better narrated by Dan himself, would have felt much more genuine.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Amira
  • 04-03-17

Absolutely Fascinating

I found this book to be absolutely fascinating. I didn't want to miss a single word. Behavioral economics is my new favourite subject. Dan Ariely makes it so interesting.
I thought the narration was fantastic.
Throughout the book there were many thought provoking moments where I paused to contemplate and times when I found myself chuckling.
I would highly recommend this book.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Mason
  • 03-09-17

Insightful and educational

If u are interested in psychology or just in what makes people tick then check out this book. A lot of the The information in this book is intuitively right but is not common sense. I love how this book makes me look at the world differently.

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Lauren
  • 12-27-16

Poor casting of reader

This is an American-Israeli author, using American English, with American examples in the story. Why on earth would you cast a posh sounding Brit to read it?! Very awkward to listen to.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Alex
  • 11-03-16

Equally insightful & funny!!!

Absolutely loved it! Very insightful, funny and filled with practical advice to improve oneself and those arround us.