You are irrational, but predictably so.

I am too, if that is any consolation. We all are. This acknowledgement is the stem of behavioral economics and of Dan Ariely’s bestseller “Predictably irrational”. What is this all about, you may ask – and I put forward this answer.
Traditional economics fathoms you and me as rational human beings, who think before we act and therefore act rationally. Supply and demand and all that, but Dan Ariely shows us that, not only are we irrational in some situations, our irrationality is a general trait among us all.
And Dan knows what he’s talking about. He’s the James B. Duke Professor of Psychology and Behavioral Economics at Duke University and has done extensive, and quite fun, academic research in these fields.
Back to how irrational we are.
Dan takes us through a number of situations where our irrationality rises to the surface, for example all about “free gifts” or zero cost, about our expectation of quality and price, social norms v. market norms, and – oh I could go on and on, because I am excited about this and Dan brings behavioral economics to the masses in an intelligent and humorous way.
However, the reason why “Predictably irrational” is so profound, boils down to the Homer Simpson “doh”-moments in every chapter. dohI can see myself being predictably irrational and cherish the opportunity to see those situations in a new, more rational, light.
You see, Dan doesn’t just expose our irrationality for a good laugh, but in order to help us in our future decision-making.
If you want to hear it from the horse’s mouth, you are in luck. Dan has an excellent website with heaps of goodies and has done TED talks among others. I recommend “Predictably irrational” with my teaspoon of experience: people look at you, when you chuckle while reading on the train.

Predictably irrational
Dan Ariely
Harper, 2009

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