Irrationality


Recently I was able to take the time to officially finish Dan Ariely’s Predictably Irrational.  I actually started the books months ago on a recommendation from my PR adviser and Case Studies professor but had a hard time getting through it.  However, after finding myself citing the different studies presented in the book to my friends I finally picked it up again.

Ladies and gentlemen, this book is life changing.  I can only hope that the lessons I encountered in this book stick with me for a long time.  I simply adore it when a book can alter my perception so radically that I will quote it for days to come.  (Which I will, so watch out Facebook.)

Here’s a very short summary of concepts that I personally found the most interesting and applicable in the second half of the book:

  • You cannot mix social norms and market norms.  For example, people will be willing to do more as a (free) favor than they will for a discounted payment.  The important point to take away from this is not to mix your personal relationships with situations where money changes hands.
  • Having options will distract you from your goal.  We as people are reluctant to let “doors” close, whether these doors are relationships, job opportunities, or discount products.  However, having to spend time nurturing each option distracts from the amount of effort we could put into the important relationships (personal, work, or consumer.)
  • People have a tenancy to incorrectly predict their own actions under the influence of strong emotions.   The choices you feel you would make while calm can drastically change when you are angry, sexually aroused, etc.
  • What you expect from a situation or product greatly affects how you will perceive it.  Higher expectations often coincide with higher ratings.  Additionally, higher prices often contribute to higher product ratings.

Ariely presents other behavioral revelations as well including the extent to which we trust corporations as well as the extent to which we ourselves are honest, how much self control we truly have, and the power of the word “free.”  I guess none of these concepts are particularly earth shattering but the extent to which people indulge in these forms of irrational thinking is definitely surprising.  If you’re interested, read his book!

As for me, I’m going to ponder some of my recent life choices for a while.  This might even inspire another blog post soon.

-Rebecca

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