Monday, April 29, 2013

Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions by Dan Ariely

In Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely, the author goes over several theories that demonstrate our illogical decision making process. In it, he utilizes ethos and subjective evidence to support his extravagant theories. Dan Ariely studied at Tel Aviv University, University of North Carolina and Duke University. During that time he received his B.A. in psychology and M.A. and Ph.D. in cognitive psychology. He is also a behavioral economist, despite not having any formal training in economics. 

Knowing all this about him we would think he’d know everything there is to know about how we behave and why we behave a certain way. The truth is, (at least I think) his reasoning behind his ideas is extremely biased, but no one seems to notice this because they trust what he says. Don’t get me wrong, the majority of his theories are well-supported. However, there are a few theories in which he appears to be stretching the truth. 

According to him, human beings are naturally attracted to the word “free” because it reduces all risk of failure and one of people’s worst fear is failure/rejection. By offering free things, consumers will instantly crowd around this free product like flies on rotting flesh. Unfortunately for him, these ideas are just theories because as long as theres one exception, the theory will become invalid. I, for example, am not fond of free things because they are generally cheap in quality and only take up space. Furthermore, all of Dan’s ideas could not be verified using concrete facts and figures, only assumptions. That by definition means his statements on human behavior are subjective. His ideas overall are very well thought out and reasonable, but they are pretty much common sense. 

If you are having trouble saving money or are wondering what compels you to buy stuff or simply want to be more aware of your everyday choices, then I’d definitely recommend this book. As you read it, remember not to confuse theories with facts.
Fabricio M.

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