The Upside of Irrationality by Dan Ariely

Nobody is doing more to add to our knowledge of the irrational side of human behavior than Dan Ariely. Not only does he conduct experiments that are elegant in their simplicity, but he writes about his work and that of other researchers in a highly acccessible way. Upside is the successor to the bestselling Predictably Irrational, and it takes to new topics, ranging from CEO pay to speed dating.

By |July 12th, 2011|

Mistakes Were Made (but not by me)

The imperfection of our human brains has been a frequent topic of books lately, most notably Dan Ariely’s Predictably Irrational. Mistakes were made goes into considerable depth on one key failing, cognitive dissonance. The authors call cognitive dissonance the “engine of self-justification” and attribute many examples of irrational behavior to our attempts to resolve it.

By |August 19th, 2010|

The Power of FREE!

A few days ago, I wrote about the power of the word “New” to get our attention – if there’s a more potent attractor out there, it’s almost certainly “FREE!” For years, advertising gurus have listed “free” on every compilation of powerful headline words. Now, research conducted by Dan Ariely (a Duke behavioral economist, previously at MIT) shows us that “free” is far more effective than “almost free.” Indeed, a preference for “free” seems to be another feature hardwired into our brains. […]

By |July 10th, 2008|

Book Review: Predictably Irrational

Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely does a great job of demolishing the idea that people make decisions in a rational manner. Ariely, a behavioral economist at Duke, describes dozens of experiments that show how we procrastinate, when we cheat, how we interpret prices (definitely a neuromarketing hot button), and much more. Ariely’s work is fascinating at least in part because of the simplicity of most of his experiments. Instead of using multi-million dollar fMRI machines, Ariely’s work tends to involve a simple concept, a few props, and willing subjects (always plentiful on college campuses). The simplicity is deceptive, though, because the results demonstrate the complexity of the brain’s decision-making process. […]

By |July 7th, 2008|

Placebos, Price, and Marketing

Hot on the heels of learning that more expensive wine tastes better, we find that more expensive placebos are more effective at controlling pain: […]

By |March 6th, 2008|