Dan Ariely’s Irrationally Yours: Predictably Amusing
Dan Ariely, an author and scientist we’ve featured often here, is back with a new book: Irrationally Yours: On Missing Socks, Pickup Lines, and Other Existential Puzzles.
If you’ve read any of Ariely’s previous books, you know he brings a sense of humor to what he writes, at least if it’s not headed for a stuffy peer-reviewed journal. In Irrationally Yours, Ariely doubles down on that front by enlisting cartoonist William Haefeli to illustrate his text.
This book is an expanded compilation of questions Ariely has fielded in his Wall Street Journal column, Ask Ariely. In that column, he solves reader problems by applying behavior science to everyday life.
Of course, Ariely is more than just an advice columnist. Rather than just delivering the answer, he gives readers the tools to apply the science in other areas of their life.
For example, many of us may be forced to choose between a place to live close to work and one that’s farther away but offers better amenities. Ariely weighs in on the side of short commutes.
It isn’t the length of commuting that makes it difficult for us to deal with, he says, but rather the unpredictability. The fact that we don’t know when we’ll breeze in to the office and when we’ll be stuck in a traffic jam increases our stress. On the other hand, Ariely says, we’ll quickly adapt to a smaller living space since it is unchanging from day to day.
And what if you chose the suburban home with the commute and occasional traffic jam? In another chapter, Ariely notes that you’ll feel better about yourself if you behave in an an altruistic way toward other drivers.
One of the most amusing chapters is titled, “On Socks and the Psychology of the Supernatural.” In it, Ariely explains why your clothes dryer seems to harbor a sock-eating monster. No, I’m not going to spoil the suspense by explaining it here!
As part of the launch, Ariely released this amusing video:
Is it just me, or was anyone else reminded of the famous Joshua Bell subway experiment? One of the world’s top violinists set up shop with a tip jar in a busy subway station and was completely ignored by commuters as he played.
Irrationally Yours is full of fun, laced with quick lessons in psychology and the science of human behavior. As we enter beach season, take Ariely’s book with you instead of the latest thriller or romance. Or, listen to the audio version on your long and unpredictable commute to your office. (My preferred method for coping with traffic jams is to listen to recorded books or podcasts. If I’m listening to something particularly good, I find I almost look forward to the occasional delay.)
Regardless of how you consume Irrationally Yours, you’ll enjoy Ariely’s bite-sized nuggets of wisdom. And, you’ll actually learn a few ways to cope with life’s annoyances even as you chuckle at the humor.