By | January 14, 2014

For a person who believes that his career has been made on people behaving irrationally a title like ‘the Upside of Irrationality’ : The unexpected benefits of defying logic at work and at home- by DAN ARIELY was enough of a reason to pick the book,

WIN WIN – may not always be a WIN WIN as most likely the irrational is going to give it a pass and chose a decision that will definitely lock in a WIN LOSE possibility.  The book explains what is called the ULTIMATE GAME by the economists. It’s a simple experiment.  Lets say Player A (SPENDER) gets to spend $20 and for that he has to distribute the sum with him and another player B (let’s call that receiver) . In the best of situation we would expect them to share it $10 each.  If the spender is really selfish he may give the receiver just $1 keeping $19 for him or nothing.  If Player B accepts this deal-both are allowed to keep their monies. But if this sharing is rejected by Player B- then both get nothing. If we are rational player B should accept anything that is offered and keep it. Now here is where the irrationality comes to play- the experiment results have shown time and again that player B will reject any polarized deal- in a way he would be willing to give his share ( what he was getting) just to ensure that over greedy selfish Player A is punished for his act.

UPSIDE OF IRRATIONALITYThe book and the need for it is well defined in the following statement. ( Page 287) ‘We humans are fond of the notion that we are objective, rational and logical. We take great pride in the “fact” that we make decisions based on reason. When we decide to invest our money, buy a home, chose a school for our kids or pick a medical treatment, we usually assume that the choices made are the right ones. This is sometimes true, but it is also the case that our cognitive biases often lead us astray, particularly when we have to make big, difficult, painful choices.

So you want to get a peep ( basic nothing too deep look)  into the Irrationality involved in human decision making as understood by the behavioral scientist- this is the book. (Before reading this book- I had read another book ‘PREDICTABLY IRRATIONAL’ by Dan Ariely and was ready for a lot more theoretical hugely experiment based   book. (Don’t worry- you can read either of the books first) .

Something are so simple and straight forward- but still remains clouded from our own biases. THE HEDONIC TREADMILL. ‘By failing to anticipate the extent of our Hedonistic adaptation, as consumers we routinely escalate our purchases, hopping that new stuff will make us happier. Indeed a new car feels wonderful, but sadly, the feeling last for only a few months. We get used to driving that car, and the buzz ears off. So we look for something else to make us happy; maybe a new sunglasses, a computer or a new car. This cycle, which is what drives us to keep up with the joneses is Hedonic Treadmill. We look forwards to the things that make us happy, but we do not realize how short-lived this happiness be…

And it does have some natural sounding things explained in a more complex ways- like Why do we overvalue things that we have made ourselves- like the ready to build furniture. And there are many experiment (adding to lot of data) trying to make you feel the hardness of hypothesis.

Here is something I thought worth to share- as it took me two reading to say- YES to these statements. Page 104. Four principles of human endeavor

1.    The effort that we put into something does not just change the object. It changes us and the way we evaluate that object

2.    Greater labour leads to greater love

3.    Our overvaluation of the things we make run so deep that we assume that others share our biased perspective

4.    When we cannot complete something into which we have put great effort, we don’t feel so attached to it.

It does have some crazy sounding statements that can be well used in some presentations to make a point. Like his statement on –speed dating- branding that as a useless attempt he says ‘It is like trying to understand how a cookie will taste by reading its nutrition label’.  

Take this simple science world bias that reflects ‘TOOTHBRUSH THEORY’- which is so simple. The idea is that everyone wants a toothbrush, everyone needs one, everyone has one, but no one wants to use anyone else’s.

The book is an initiation to think why and under which circumstances can we expect irrational behavior or irrational behavior happens. It is an important part of a marketer understanding of his consumer’s life.  So, when you identify your own irrational behavior (which could be quite a lot many times) being at peace with yourself.

You could click here or use this link (  on your browser to hear DAN ARIELY talk about this propositions.

And just a simple video of his talk at POP Tech will make you read the book- to hear  him click here or use this link