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Predictably irrational

The Lime Group | Articles

Dan Ariely


This book is worth a read if you’re interested in finding out what really makes us humans behave the way we do. If you pride yourself on being a rational decision-maker, get ready for disappointment. Dan Ariely (a behavioural economist) and his team of researchers devised a series of ingenious social experiments (don’t miss the one on the effect of arousal on decision making!). Here’s what they found: decision-making is largely “irrational”, even where first glance might suggest otherwise. Further, irrationality is, in fact, systematic and predictable. Hmmm, so we humans aren’t logical but we DO make predictable decisions.

For starters: if you are struggling to choose between two alternatives, introducing a third which is similar to one of the current options will cause most people to choose the best of the two similar alternatives; regardless of whether it’s actually the best overall. Here’s another: irrespective of your religious persuasion (or lack thereof) reading the 10 commandments just before a test for which you will be paid per correct answer, will significantly reduce your propensity to cheat. Think about the business implications around values and keeping them front-of-mind.

‘Predictably Irrational’ is loaded with stories that will get you thinking. You can also head to to check out Dan in detail. It’s well worth investing some time to understand his views and the potential implications.