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The Upside of Irrationality The Unexpected Benefits of

The provocative follow up to the New York Times bestseller Predictably Irrational Why can large bonuses make CEOs less productive?How can confusing directions actually help us?Why is revenge so important to us?Why is there such a big difference between what we think will make us happy and what really makes us happy? In his groundbreaking book Predictably Irrational social scientist Dan Ariely revealed the multiple biases that lead us into making unwise decisions Now in The Upside of Irrationality he exposes the surprising negative and positive effects irrationality can have on our lives Focusing on our behaviors at work and in relationships he offers new insights and eye opening truths about what really motivates us on the job how one unwise action can become a long term habit how we learn to love the ones we're with and Drawing on the same experimental methods that made Predictably Irrational one of the most talked about bestsellers of the past few years Ariely uses data from his own original and entertaining experiments to draw arresting conclusions about how—and why—we behave the way we do From our office attitudes to our romantic relationships to our search for purpose in life Ariely explains how to break through our negative patterns of thought and behavior to make better decisions The Upside of Irrationality will change the way we see ourselves at work and at home—and cast our irrational behaviors in a nuanced light


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    I had a sufficiently positive impression of Dan Ariely from his first book Predictably Irrational to be willing to give this one a try My residual impression from the earlier book was of a smart likable guy with a knack for designing clever experiments to capture the irrational side of human behavior particularly when making decisions with economic consequences This area of investigation has risen to prominence over the past 5 to 10 years there is now a flood of titles on the market which shows no sign of abating in the foreseeable future Predictably Irrational holds up well against the competition it covers a lot of ground in reasonably concise fashion and is quite readable Each chapter's primary message is grounded in and illustrated by specific experiments conducted by Ariely and colleagues and this is the book's particular strength Given the strength of Ariely's first book and the relatively short interval since its publication it would be truly surprising if this second book reached the same high standard Sopho slump is a real phenomenon just a manifestation of what statisticians would call regression to the mean and Professor Ariely is not immune to its effects A reviewer predisposed to be critical of the author might argue that this is a sequel that is short on substance presenting results that are either i blindingly obvious eg that people need to believe their work is meaningful to feel motivated ii needless and not particularly illuminating amplification of ideas already presented in the first book overvaluing of ownership and the power of anchoringoriiimaterial presented previously and better by other authorsThat assessment seems unduly harsh to me the sequel shares some of the positive qualities of the original primarily Ariely's clear and engaging style which guarantees readability at the very least Unfortunately an engaging style doesn't quite make up for some of the book's obvious weaknesses The material in the earlier book was fascinating because most of the results were surprising counterintuitive or non obvious but the experimental work was strong enough to be persuasive The experimental foundation of the work discussed in the second book is noticeably weaker across the board at times barely rising about the level of anecdotal data with the author displaying a regrettable propensity to issue pronouncements of a general nature solely on the basis of his own personal experience Even if one disregards the relative weakness of the empirical evidence to support them claims made in the second book are simply not as interesting as the earlier work either they are immediately obvious or restatements of material likely to be familiar to anyone who has done any prior reading in this general area Finally there is the unavoidable impression that a significant portion of the material is nothing than padding the book is studded with space filling sidebars that are notably lacking in content examples include a one page explanation of the myth of Sisyphus complete with stick figure diagram a verbatim transcript of an online rant about the 2008 banking bailout graphs that were superfluous cartoonish or both The most egregious padding is Ariely's inclusion of what seems like an endless stream of personal anecdotes from his own life a feature that severely tests the reader's patience and is an implicit acknowledgement that this is a book based primarily on anecdotal evidence rather than hard scienceWith these caveats in mind I quite enjoyed the book But I can't give it a resounding endorsement Instead I would steer readers to Predictably Irrational Stumbling on Happiness and Nudge Cumulatively they afford an accessible account of the same material that is thorough and rigorous than that in Professor Ariely's somewhat disappointing sopho effort