Friday, July 10, 2009

Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions

by Dan Ariely
It's been pretty well established that human beings are not the calm, rational creatures we'd like to think of ourselves as. What Ariely brings to the discussion is the idea that our irrational decision-making follows predictable (and scientifically testable) patterns. Ariely, a Professor of Behavioral Economics at Duke University, gives an illuminating tour of his experiments in this field. Do people who are sexually aroused make different choices than they do in a "cooler" state? Why do people cheat less when asked to sign an imaginary "honor code"? Why do people act differently when money is involved? Why does an expensive pain reliever work better than the same drug at a lower price? Just seeing how the testing was done is fascinating, and the results made me look differently at my own decision-making.

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