• Ananya Ak

Predictably Irrational - A Book Review


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They say, “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” But what about its title?


I’ve only recently started reading non-fiction books, as readers of this blog know. And I’ve tried to start my journey with interesting books. I started, of course, with Quiet, because I resonate with the book on a deep level.


But this book’s title drew me in.


I know human beings are not really rational. I’m a student of psychology, after all. But “Predictably Irrational”? The fact that someone found a way to predict our weird quirks and questionable decision-making skills fascinated me from the get-go.


And then the “Note to Readers” cemented my interest. Right at the beginning, the author, Dan Ariely promises answers to questions like:


“Why do we get overexcited when something is FREE?”

and

“How does procrastination play games with us?”

Who doesn’t want to know the answers to these questions? Well, I certainly did.


And I wasn’t disappointed.


With amusing imaginary scenarios and real-life anecdotes, the author describes the many ways in which our mind fails us. And then, using evidence from simple and fun experiments that the author himself conducted through the years, he explores the reasons behind those failures.


He related everything from what influences our buying habits to why we’re dishonest in a way that’s easy to understand and fun to read.


He effortlessly navigates the depths of our emotions and behaviours without making us feel like we’ve been educated. In other words, he’s a fun teacher (I never thought they existed in real life!).


It’s not a pleasant thought; the fact that we’re inherently irrational and so easily convinced, for example, that an item on sale is something we desperately need (we don’t; we really, really don’t), or that a higher price automatically means better quality (does it, really?).


But it’s true. And these quirks of ours are good to know. After all, how can we protect ourselves from mistakes if we never knew we were making them?

And of course, if you’re a marketer, you’re on the other side of things. The book shows you exactly what quirks to tap into when you’re selling something; and what to say (or write) to persuade people to buy.


On a side note, the fact that this book’s title made me curious enough to buy it is, in itself, an example of my “predictable irrationality”. And isn’t that something to think about?


What I loved about the book:


  • The conversational tone. A lot of educational non-fiction authors have this tendency to use big words and complex jargon, but not Dan. The book is easy to read and engaging, and you learn so much without even realising it!

  • The personal touch. From the first “Note to Readers”, the author intersperses the entire book with anecdotes of his personal life. It was an interesting experience, getting to know the author while reading a book that was not an autobiography (not that I’ve ever read an autobiography).

  • The relevance to everyday life. From buying stuff to procrastination; from relationships to dishonesty, the author covers every aspect of our irrational lives, and it’s so relatable you can imagine yourself in nearly every scenario he describes.

  • Social psychology is fascinating. I absolutely love learning what makes people tick and how they’re influenced by seemingly mundane things. Don’t you?

  • The salutation at the end. “Irrationally yours, Dan Ariely”. Isn’t that just adorable?


You should read it if:


  • You’re curious about what makes people tick

  • You’re interested in marketing (this book is an amazing, if indirect, guide to persuasion)

  • The concept of behavioural economics fascinates you (this book is sort of a prologue to understanding that field)

  • The name of this book makes you curious (Seriously. That’s enough)


You may not like it if:


  • You strongly believe that humans are rational creatures

  • You prefer more serious reads

  • You don’t like humour


Verdict:


I absolutely loved it! I’d recommend Predictably Irrational to anyone who wants some easy answers to the question, “What makes people tick?” And if you’re a marketer or in the business of persuasion, this is a must-read.

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