The Upside of Irrationality

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Senteo Rating 3.0
04/27/23
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Author:Dan Ariely
04/27/23
views 9041
comments0
Author:Dan Ariely
DIAMOND
RATING
Senteo Rating 3.0

The Upside of Irrationality
Dan Ariely HarperCollins Publishers, 2010
Senteo’s Review information

In this follow up to his previous book, Predictably Irrational, the author further explores the field of behavioral economics and psychology, and the surprisingly positive and negative effects irrationality can have on our work and relationships.

The author uses data from his personal experiences and experiments to draw conclusions as to why we act the way we do in our work, relationships and search for purpose in life. This book is divided into two sections: the unexpected ways we defy logic at work, and the unexpected ways we defy logic at home. Through personal experiences and some university-funded experiments, the author demonstrates some of the seemingly irrational behaviors we display, such as: why big big bonuses don’t always work; the meaning of labor, or why we prefer to work for our food; the IKEA effect, or why we overvalue what we make; why we favor our own ideas, or the “not invented here” bias; what makes us seek justice or revenge; why we adapt and get used to things; selective mating and the beauty market; the dysfunctional (online) dating market; why we respond to one person who needs help but not to many; and why we shouldn’t act on our long-term feelings. The author devotes a chapter to each of the above subjects, providing anecdotal and limited experimental evidence for each.

Like the previous book, this one provides interesting stories of personal experiences to back up the author’s explanations of our seemingly irrational behavior. The author devotes the first chapter to further elaborate on the experiment in his previous book concerning “paying more for less,” or why bonuses for bankers may yield diminishing returns. In this book, he provides more evidence, ranging from psychologists’ Yerkes and Dodson’s experiments on rats to a more expanded study of people in India providing 3 different bonus conditions (as opposed to a small group of university students in the previous book). Perhaps this was in recognition of the fact the research he provided in the first book was noticeably light for an academic work. The chapter on why online dating does not work is also a good example. He provides more in the way of personal examples to illustrate other irrational behaviors, making it an entertaining read.

For those looking for a more scientific or structured approach to the author’s points, as well as some applications for this research aside from personal knowledge, readers are likely to be let down. Much like the first book, the author uses the same style but manages to tell a good story for those interested in behavioral economics or psychology. For those who read his previous book, this is more a sequel than providing new insight. For more technical research on buyer behavior, see the Senteo review for The Buying Brain.

“Dan Ariely is a genius at understanding human behavior: no economist does a better job of uncovering and explaining the hidden reasons for the weird ways we act.” — James Surowiecki, author of The Wisdom of Crowds.
Behavioral economist and New York Times bestselling author of Predictably Irrational Dan Ariely returns to offer a much-needed take on the irrational decisions that influence our dating lives, our workplace experiences, and our temptation to cheat in any and all areas. Fans of Freakonomics, Survival of the Sickest, and Malcolm Gladwell’s Blink and The Tipping Point will find many thought-provoking insights in The Upside of Irrationality.

As with his previous book, this book is recommended for the general public, but may also be of interest to economists, marketers or business people working in retail or consumer goods. The nature of it is more anecdotal, but the book is entertaining.

Senteo Subject Category
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This book is research-oriented in the field of economic behavior.

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    The Upside of Irrationality
    Dan Ariely HarperCollins Publishers, 2010
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