I’ve just finished reading Predictably Irrational. It’s written by Dan Ariely, a professor of Behavioural Economics, and the book is essentially constructed from his extensive research material. The insights into human behaviour, especially with regard to the choices we make as consumers, are absolutely fascinating. This book is an obvious must-read for anyone involved in marketing or sales, but its audience should actually be very much broader than that (rationally thinking, of course).
Ariely tells the story in a most engaging, easy-to-read manner, but his approach is 100% scientific (or as far one can be scientific when dealing with human behaviour!).
The basis of classical economics is the principle of making rational choices on the basis of the utility one is expecting to gain. Ariely recounts fascinating research into what price similar groups of people will pay for goods and how they were ‘manipulated’ to adjust their value perceptions. Particularly telling was the work he did in establishing the degree to which people could be expected to be dishonest. One of his honesty-motivating tricks was to get subjects to write out as many of the Ten Commandments as they could remember. This reminds me of an example in Paco Underhill’s Why We Buy, in which shop lifting in Walmart stores was found to be reduced when shoppers were greeted at the entrance by an elderly (granny-type) woman.
The bottom line of his experience is that people are very much less rational than economists would have us believe.
One of the chapters deals with the human tendency to procrastinate. So, perhaps you’re thinking that you might look out for Predictably Irrational, but the best way of dealing with your current interest in reading this fascinating book is to click here and order it right now:
Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions
If you’ve read any of Malcolm Gladwell’s books (The Tipping Point, Outliers, Blink), Freakonomics (Steven Levett and Stephen Dubner), or anything by Tim Hartford, you’re sure to enjoy this book.