Yup, we’ve got that one

And more than one million more. Become a member today and read free for two weeks.

Read free for two weeks

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 more.

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 more nuanced light.

Topics: Success, Happiness, Cognitive Science, Dating, Social Science, Professional Development, Wry, Inspirational, Provocative, and Informative

Published: HarperCollins on Jun 1, 2010
ISBN: 9780062008565
List price: $10.99
Read on Scribd mobile: iPhone, iPad and Android.
Availability for The Upside of Irrationality by Dan Ariely
With a 30 day free trial you can read online for free
  1. This book can be read on up to 6 mobile devices.
Clear rating

Painless behavioral economics book exploring how we don’t behave like rational actors in the classic economic model—we seek revenge against those who have harmed us even when that is costly. Ariely talks about his history of recovering from extensive burns and experiencing continuing pain, and unfortunately chooses sexist jokes over real science when he talks about pain: in grad school, he did an experiment showing that men would keep their hands in extremely hot water for longer than women would while he was timing them. When he brought these results to his professor, a women, she told him that he hadn’t proven that men had a higher pain threshold, but that men were more foolish, and that if the stakes had been more serious he would have seen different results. He reiterates his conclusion and says, “I learned a lot about women that day.” No, he (should have) learned about the scientific method: the alternative hypothesis that men and women value “being able to keep hand in hot water” differently, perhaps because they differ in their response to being under observation, was another perfectly plausible explanation. More data were required, and he probably knows that, but still couldn’t resist the cheap joke.In another oddity, Ariely has the bizarre idea that it’s unfair to punish a principal for acts of an agent: getting mad at the Gap, for example, because a Gap salesperson treats you badly. Now, it’s not right to take a sweater from the Gap because you’re mad at the salesperson, but the rule that principals are responsible for the acts of agents within the scope of their employment is foundational to the modern economy, and rightly so: if a Ford employee leaves out a key part when putting together my car and my car crashes, my remedy is against Ford, not against the likely impecunious employee. This rule encourages Ford to monitor its employees and to spread the costs of any mistakes. A contrary rule would require a lot more explanation, but Ariely is puzzled by why we’d attribute an agent’s misfeasance to his/her employer, which leads to a weird emphasis in the chapter about how our emotions contaminate logically unrelated transactions—an interesting topic in itself, since when we yell at our kids because our boss was mean we really are aiming in the wrong direction.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Since long I have wanted to add a gist of review of this book, chapter-wise so that I could look up later.

Part 1 - Work-related Irrationalities

1. Big Bonuses don't work. (Which means CEO high salaries aren't quite logical.) Oh, but this is no way a bad news for your rewards and recognition program. Bonuses and reward should be just right, not too less that people do not care and not too much that enormity of reward at stake scares your people into failure.

2. Even though all of us work for a salary to make living. But we all like to find some meaning in the work. For example, if you are a writer who was paid well to research and complete the book, but if for some reason your book does not see light of the day, it is demotivating even if you were paid well for the job. Dan Ariely's team conducts experiments where they pay people to create Lego blocks. For the people, who saw their 'creation' being demolished right in front of them, they found it difficult to go on with work even though they were being paid. So, we all like to find meaning in our work.

3. Ikea furniture works because we overvalue what we ourselves make. We kind of take pride in our creations even if it be a simple origami. Ikea works its not too complicated and yet it gives your bask in that pride that comes when you create your own thing.

4. How sometimes we pass up great ideas because they weren't ours. We didn't think them. So many times, wise aegis is that make your bosses feel that the idea came from them.

5. Why revenge gives us pleasure? Why we punish when we feel things have been unjust. Creative ways customer seek revenge, for example, a viral video about a hotel's bad service. How sometimes apologies can be powerful.

Part 2 - Home-related irrationalities

1. Human power of adaptation. Adaptation of pain. Or, adaption when your prized possessions no longer bring you happiness. How adaption can work for you.

2. On Dating. Hot or Not site, interesting dating patterns. Perception of beauty.

3. More on online dating sites. How market fails.

4. Empathy and emotion - strange phenomenon where we all set out in hordes to help pay for a single person but when it is a genocide or a tragedy involving hundreds and thousands, our capacity to charity sort of diminishes. The 'Drop-in-the-bucket-effect'.

5. Long-term effect of short-term emotions such as anger, jealousy etc - how our decisions are impacted.

6. Lessons from irrationalities - how we should test everything. In short, everything we do is not as logical as it may seem to us.

read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Substance: research on what people really do, and sometimes why they do it, and how this differs from the fictitious "reasonable man" of social science and economics.Style: personal and engaging.Contains much more autobiographical material than his first book, "Predictably Irrational".read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
If you liked his last book Predictably Irrational you will like this one. It is engaging and explores a number of irrational behaviors, which you may be aware happen; however after his probing they become much clearer. Clearer to the point you may behave differently when you recognize them. Many examples are taken from his experience dealing with his major burns which makes the book more real. He goes deep into his emotions and thoughts and was interesting by itself.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Additional interesting experiments by Ariely, his students, and peers that suggest that we behave irrationally in matters of economics and "social economics" (like dating). Sometimes this irrationality has an upside - like when those of us that are not necessarily gorgeous or attractive are still picked by mates that have "re-valued" our attractiveness based on other factors. I expected a bit more discussion regarding the "upside" of irrationality, given the title of the book. Instead it appeared to be more of a continuation of Ariely's previous (and interesting book). Nevertheless, he DOES point out some upsides, and the book is fun to read.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
"People will suffer less when they do not disrupt annoying experiences and enjoy pleasurable experiences more when they break them up." A break actually decreases your ability to adapt! This is so helpful.Everyone probably already knows why online romantic matchings are unsatisfying--nobody can be reduced to a checklist of very limited likes/demographics/physical characteristics--but here Ariely suggests how such systems can be improved: the couple have to experience something together, even if it's sharing and talking about a website or game.The IKEA effect--we put so much more investment (affection, attachment) to an object that we have put a bit of effort into constructing. I think that's pretty well known, though, from the creation of cake mixes decades ago. It can be extended to others' ideas in, say the workplace. We place more value in an idea that we have come up with ourselves, so if you really want that thing, let your boss think he came up with the notion.Hedonic adaptation, another useful concept or explanation. I have lived in some very ugly Asian cities or the ugly parts of them. The ugliness may assault you on first sight--how about entering Tokyo from the airport? But we do adjust to it *somewhat*. The harsh edges get rubbed down. Sad thing is, the shock of beauty or comfort or the breezy view from your new apartment get filed down as well. I guess this also applies to how Ariely adapted to the pain and discomfort of his injured hand but there's also the Ikea effect involved: he has invested so much effort and suffering getting the hand to function to the extent it does--reducing the pain through amputation becomes less appealing.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
I enjoyed Predictably Irrational by this author last year, and kept meaning to get around to this book. Ariely is a behavioural economist who studies how people act in unexpected, irrational ways, contrary to the general economic assumption of rationality. His first book focused on explaining how people were irrational, while this one, based on the title, was apparently supposed to highlight some of the benefits of irrational thought. I actually found the title a bit misleading because there didn't seem to be too much focus on the benefits as compared to the general examples of irrationality, but that wasn't really a problem since the book was still enjoyable. It actually made me wonder whether I might be in the wrong field, which is saying a lot; Ariely's work is just so interesting and relevant.One more significant difference from the first book is that The Upside of Irrationality is more personal; I felt like I got a better sense of who Ariely was, which I appreciated on the whole. There were times when I felt like his judgements went a bit beyond the evidence, but ultimately I decided that that wasn't a fatal flaw. I still enjoyed the book, and found a lot of food for thought there. Particularly noteworthy were the studies about how much people are inclined to favour their own ideas over others (does this explain my RSI problems?) and how emotion influences charitable donations: not only will people give more money to a poor suffering individual than to help an abstract group of people suffering more on the whole, but when they're led to think more rationally (by doing math problems beforehand) they actually just give less overall.Incidentally, I was finally led to pick up this book when I came across another book, More Than Good Intentions, in the store; that one applies ideas in behavioural economics specifically to the problem of reducing world poverty, and is high on my wishlist, but I felt like I should get to this longstanding TBR book on behavioural economics first.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Read all reviews

Reviews

Painless behavioral economics book exploring how we don’t behave like rational actors in the classic economic model—we seek revenge against those who have harmed us even when that is costly. Ariely talks about his history of recovering from extensive burns and experiencing continuing pain, and unfortunately chooses sexist jokes over real science when he talks about pain: in grad school, he did an experiment showing that men would keep their hands in extremely hot water for longer than women would while he was timing them. When he brought these results to his professor, a women, she told him that he hadn’t proven that men had a higher pain threshold, but that men were more foolish, and that if the stakes had been more serious he would have seen different results. He reiterates his conclusion and says, “I learned a lot about women that day.” No, he (should have) learned about the scientific method: the alternative hypothesis that men and women value “being able to keep hand in hot water” differently, perhaps because they differ in their response to being under observation, was another perfectly plausible explanation. More data were required, and he probably knows that, but still couldn’t resist the cheap joke.In another oddity, Ariely has the bizarre idea that it’s unfair to punish a principal for acts of an agent: getting mad at the Gap, for example, because a Gap salesperson treats you badly. Now, it’s not right to take a sweater from the Gap because you’re mad at the salesperson, but the rule that principals are responsible for the acts of agents within the scope of their employment is foundational to the modern economy, and rightly so: if a Ford employee leaves out a key part when putting together my car and my car crashes, my remedy is against Ford, not against the likely impecunious employee. This rule encourages Ford to monitor its employees and to spread the costs of any mistakes. A contrary rule would require a lot more explanation, but Ariely is puzzled by why we’d attribute an agent’s misfeasance to his/her employer, which leads to a weird emphasis in the chapter about how our emotions contaminate logically unrelated transactions—an interesting topic in itself, since when we yell at our kids because our boss was mean we really are aiming in the wrong direction.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Since long I have wanted to add a gist of review of this book, chapter-wise so that I could look up later.

Part 1 - Work-related Irrationalities

1. Big Bonuses don't work. (Which means CEO high salaries aren't quite logical.) Oh, but this is no way a bad news for your rewards and recognition program. Bonuses and reward should be just right, not too less that people do not care and not too much that enormity of reward at stake scares your people into failure.

2. Even though all of us work for a salary to make living. But we all like to find some meaning in the work. For example, if you are a writer who was paid well to research and complete the book, but if for some reason your book does not see light of the day, it is demotivating even if you were paid well for the job. Dan Ariely's team conducts experiments where they pay people to create Lego blocks. For the people, who saw their 'creation' being demolished right in front of them, they found it difficult to go on with work even though they were being paid. So, we all like to find meaning in our work.

3. Ikea furniture works because we overvalue what we ourselves make. We kind of take pride in our creations even if it be a simple origami. Ikea works its not too complicated and yet it gives your bask in that pride that comes when you create your own thing.

4. How sometimes we pass up great ideas because they weren't ours. We didn't think them. So many times, wise aegis is that make your bosses feel that the idea came from them.

5. Why revenge gives us pleasure? Why we punish when we feel things have been unjust. Creative ways customer seek revenge, for example, a viral video about a hotel's bad service. How sometimes apologies can be powerful.

Part 2 - Home-related irrationalities

1. Human power of adaptation. Adaptation of pain. Or, adaption when your prized possessions no longer bring you happiness. How adaption can work for you.

2. On Dating. Hot or Not site, interesting dating patterns. Perception of beauty.

3. More on online dating sites. How market fails.

4. Empathy and emotion - strange phenomenon where we all set out in hordes to help pay for a single person but when it is a genocide or a tragedy involving hundreds and thousands, our capacity to charity sort of diminishes. The 'Drop-in-the-bucket-effect'.

5. Long-term effect of short-term emotions such as anger, jealousy etc - how our decisions are impacted.

6. Lessons from irrationalities - how we should test everything. In short, everything we do is not as logical as it may seem to us.

Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Substance: research on what people really do, and sometimes why they do it, and how this differs from the fictitious "reasonable man" of social science and economics.Style: personal and engaging.Contains much more autobiographical material than his first book, "Predictably Irrational".
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
If you liked his last book Predictably Irrational you will like this one. It is engaging and explores a number of irrational behaviors, which you may be aware happen; however after his probing they become much clearer. Clearer to the point you may behave differently when you recognize them. Many examples are taken from his experience dealing with his major burns which makes the book more real. He goes deep into his emotions and thoughts and was interesting by itself.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Additional interesting experiments by Ariely, his students, and peers that suggest that we behave irrationally in matters of economics and "social economics" (like dating). Sometimes this irrationality has an upside - like when those of us that are not necessarily gorgeous or attractive are still picked by mates that have "re-valued" our attractiveness based on other factors. I expected a bit more discussion regarding the "upside" of irrationality, given the title of the book. Instead it appeared to be more of a continuation of Ariely's previous (and interesting book). Nevertheless, he DOES point out some upsides, and the book is fun to read.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
"People will suffer less when they do not disrupt annoying experiences and enjoy pleasurable experiences more when they break them up." A break actually decreases your ability to adapt! This is so helpful.Everyone probably already knows why online romantic matchings are unsatisfying--nobody can be reduced to a checklist of very limited likes/demographics/physical characteristics--but here Ariely suggests how such systems can be improved: the couple have to experience something together, even if it's sharing and talking about a website or game.The IKEA effect--we put so much more investment (affection, attachment) to an object that we have put a bit of effort into constructing. I think that's pretty well known, though, from the creation of cake mixes decades ago. It can be extended to others' ideas in, say the workplace. We place more value in an idea that we have come up with ourselves, so if you really want that thing, let your boss think he came up with the notion.Hedonic adaptation, another useful concept or explanation. I have lived in some very ugly Asian cities or the ugly parts of them. The ugliness may assault you on first sight--how about entering Tokyo from the airport? But we do adjust to it *somewhat*. The harsh edges get rubbed down. Sad thing is, the shock of beauty or comfort or the breezy view from your new apartment get filed down as well. I guess this also applies to how Ariely adapted to the pain and discomfort of his injured hand but there's also the Ikea effect involved: he has invested so much effort and suffering getting the hand to function to the extent it does--reducing the pain through amputation becomes less appealing.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
I enjoyed Predictably Irrational by this author last year, and kept meaning to get around to this book. Ariely is a behavioural economist who studies how people act in unexpected, irrational ways, contrary to the general economic assumption of rationality. His first book focused on explaining how people were irrational, while this one, based on the title, was apparently supposed to highlight some of the benefits of irrational thought. I actually found the title a bit misleading because there didn't seem to be too much focus on the benefits as compared to the general examples of irrationality, but that wasn't really a problem since the book was still enjoyable. It actually made me wonder whether I might be in the wrong field, which is saying a lot; Ariely's work is just so interesting and relevant.One more significant difference from the first book is that The Upside of Irrationality is more personal; I felt like I got a better sense of who Ariely was, which I appreciated on the whole. There were times when I felt like his judgements went a bit beyond the evidence, but ultimately I decided that that wasn't a fatal flaw. I still enjoyed the book, and found a lot of food for thought there. Particularly noteworthy were the studies about how much people are inclined to favour their own ideas over others (does this explain my RSI problems?) and how emotion influences charitable donations: not only will people give more money to a poor suffering individual than to help an abstract group of people suffering more on the whole, but when they're led to think more rationally (by doing math problems beforehand) they actually just give less overall.Incidentally, I was finally led to pick up this book when I came across another book, More Than Good Intentions, in the store; that one applies ideas in behavioural economics specifically to the problem of reducing world poverty, and is high on my wishlist, but I felt like I should get to this longstanding TBR book on behavioural economics first.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Load more
scribd