“Most people don’t know what they want unless they see it in context. We don’t know what kind of racing bike we want—until we see a champ in the Tour de France ratcheting the gears on a particular model. We don’t know what kind of speaker system we like—until we hear a set of speakers that sounds better than the previous one. We don’t even know what we want to do with our lives—until we find a relative or a friend who is doing just what we think we should be doing. Everything is relative, and that’s the point. Like an airplane pilot landing in the dark, we want runway lights on either side of us, guiding us to the place where we can touch down our wheels.”

I must admit. I am a sucker for behavioral theories that bring out the cognitive biases in human actions, particularly when they are backed by extensive empirical evidence. Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions by Dan Ariely was a reading recommendation that I had received on Goodreads. I devoured this book like candy and enjoyed every single bit of it.

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The writing is in an extremely non-academic style despite the author being an academic himself with multiple research papers to his name. This makes it easy for any layman to pick up a copy and appreciate the nuances of predictably irrational patterns in our seemingly “rational” behavior. The book is not a hardcore work on behavioral economics, but is intended to be a macro approach to making readers aware of the invisible yet powerful external influences on their decision making. Overall, the content is great and well-researched albeit unnecessarily stretched at points, but such instances are rare.

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