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Predictably Irrational

Sem Paroda / Khmer Times Share:

You’re probably on your way to work or school right now; and you’re most likely thinking of grabbing a cup of coffee from the nearby coffee shop. You do this because you’ve done it a thousand times and you think that a cup of coffee gears you up for the day. When did this mentality or routine start? When did we ever decide that a $4.15 for a cup of hot drinks when, just a few years ago, we used make our own coffee or buy it for less than a dollar?

Decisions are what we make every day – buying breakfast, choosing coffee, reading books, etc. Everything boils down to decision-making. We think we are making smart, rational choices. But, are we?

“Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions”, written by MIT behavioural economist Dan Ariely, takes us on a whole new perspective of decision-making, letting us realise that what we considered as logical and smart choices were actually poor decisions. He investigates irrationality from different aspects such as market dynamics, human relationships and government policy. What sets Predictably Irrational from other books is that Dan Ariely conducted many experiments and research to give more concrete pieces of evidence to his studies and his book.

The book refutes what we call ‘common sense’ – good sense and sound judgment on fundamental things. From drinking coffee to losing weight, from buying cars to choosing romantic partners, we are all required to make decisions.

The author gives an in-depth explanation of his findings through graphics and statistics of everyday experience and leisure, which explains how expectations, emotions and social norms are invisible force the drives people to making illogical decisions. He also explains the very concept of why we make specific decisions that result to our own loss, and how we can calculate the value and gauge the impacts of the different options we face in life.

Reading Ariely’s piece would surely make you question (and overthink) every aspect of your life and every decision you have made so far. The author also tells us about the cost of ‘zero cost’, explaining that transactions have their ups and downs. For things that are ‘free of charge’, we tend to forget or disregard their downsides because they cost us nothing. “Free” gives us this emotional charge that we see things more valuable than they actually are.

The book gives clear and critical understanding towards a variety of aspects in our daily lives, in our daily activities – whoever we may be or whatever we do. But this one’s a great boost for those who are looking forward to develop more rational mindsets and are ready for effective self-building. Another advantage of this book is that it could be the bridge for those who are not really fond of reading business books to start reading since jargons and technical words are well-explained throughout the pages. This is definitely a good way to cultivate more practical, smarter, wiser decision-making, especially among the youths.

Author: Dan Ariely

Publication: February 2008

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