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Read on: Predictably Irrational

A book by Dan Ariely

We think we're making smart, rational choices in our life. But are we really? On the 6th of November 2016, behavioural economist Dan Ariely spoke at Studium Generale Groningen. In this lecture, The Problem of Self-Control, Ariely demonstrated how irrational our decisions really are, and that this irrational behaviour is systematic and predictable, in other words: predictably irrational.

Predictably Irrational is the title of Ariely’s bestseller from 2008. Although this book was written at the time of the economic crisis, it stays relevant. The corona crisis also reveals that our behaviour might seem rational, but is really not. For example, we buy more toilet paper than we need and we avoid the hospital even though we need medical help. Supermarkets running out of toilet paper is an innocent effect. However, not going to the hospital out of fear of the virus, can lead to serious illness and even death.

Ariely focusses in the book on our economic behaviour. Experiments show us we think overpriced painkillers work better than cheaper ones. Also, we tend to want things we don’t need, moreover we buy them even though we don’t have the money for them. Ariely samples from his own life: why did he purchase that Audi instead of a more sensible option: a minivan? The book is full of funny and everyday examples of our irrational behaviour.

His arguments make it hard to doubt; we are not the rational beings we think we are. Our choices might seem sensible, but we often fail ourselves. From drinking coffee to losing weight, from buying a car to choosing a romantic partner, we consistently overpay, underestimate, and procrastinate. “We aren't cool calculators of self-interest who sometimes go crazy; we’re crazies who are, under special circumstances, sometimes rational” as written by New York Times in a book review of Predictably Irrational.

How can we make sure we’re making the right decisions during a crisis like this? Recently, Ariely provided a behavioural science perspective on people’s responses to the coronavirus pandemic in his talk for Duke University.

On the author
Dan Ariely is James B. Duke Professor of Psychology & Behavioral Economics at Duke University, a three-time New York Times bestselling author and renowned TED speaker. His interests span a wide range of behaviors, and his sometimes unusual experiments are consistently interesting, amusing and informative, demonstrating profound ideas that fly in the face of common wisdom. He is a founding member of the Center for Advanced Hindsight, co-creator of the film documentary (Dis)Honesty: The Truth About Lies. His books include Predictably Irrational, The Upside of Irrationality, The Honest Truth About Dishonesty, Irrationally Yours and Payoff. In 2013, Bloomberg recognized Dan as one of Top 50 Most Influential Thinkers.

Where to get the book?
Check here if the book is available at Boekhandel van der Velde

More by Dan Ariely....
TedTalk: Are we in control of our decisions?
TEDxMidwest: Predictably Irrational - basic human motivations
Website of Dan Ariely


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