Beginning with its wonderfully paradoxical title, Dan Ariely’s sharp and sly book challenges our assumptions about our own decision-making. We all acknowledge that the irrational intrudes from time to time, but think of this joker card as random and capricious. Not so, says the author: “Our irrational behaviors are neither random nor senseless—they are systematic.”
Ariely, who has been a professor of behavioral economics at MIT and at Duke, stages a series of creative experiments to test his thesis. Despite the author’s credentials, this is no staid academic treatise.
Ariely’s conclusions have far-reaching implications for a free-market philosophy built around the assumption of a coherent and unitary self capable of largely rational decisions.
But Ariely doesn’t entirely dismiss rational choice. In chapters like the one on “relativity,” he focuses instead on how rationality is circumscribed and subject to a variety of influences. Predictably Irrational is a great look at what makes us tick when it comes to how we make decisions.