Thursday, September 1, 2011

Predictably Irrational

I just finished reading Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions by Dan Ariely. All around I'd say it was a pretty good book, and yes, I do believe that humans are predictably irrational. We say one thing and do another and everything is relative. This book is basically about behavioral economics, which is a pretty interesting field. The studies that the author explains throughout the book I thought were for the most part intriguing, but not all together surprising. Ariely argues that by understanding our own behaviors we can then anticipate what will happen in an irrational moment, and then avoid it. In some cases I think this might be true, but in others I think it's more important just to recognize the fact that people can be irrational, and when those times are. My take-away from this book is not that I should really change my life to make room for irrationality, but rather to recognize that nobody is perfect even if they say they are, and it gave me more insight into the human physchi. I wanted to share a few quotes that I thought were particularly poignant:

" . . . the more we have, the more we want. And the only cure is to break the cycle of relativity."

"In 1941 the philosopher Erich Fromm wrote a book called Escape from Freedom. In a modern democracy, he said, people are beset not by a lack of opportunity, but by a dizzying abundance of it. In our modern society this is emphatically so. We are continually reminded that we can do anything and be anything we want to be. The problem is in living up to this dream."

"As it turns out, positive expectations allow us to enjoy things more and improve our perception of the world around us. The danger of expecting nothing is that, in the end, it might be all we'll get."

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