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Misbehaving Audiobook

Misbehaving: The Making of Behavioral Economics

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Audible Editor Reviews

Editors Select, May 2015 - With the backing of two Nobel Prize winners in the field of Economics and a ringing endorsement from Malcolm Gladwell, who said, 'If I had to be trapped in an elevator with any contemporary intellectual, I'd pick Richard Thaler,' I knew Misbehaving would be an enlightening listen. But it was also entertaining in the way that a great college class can be, with the professor using real-life scenarios and his own biography to color his points. In Misbehaving, Thaler argues against the traditional economic thinking that humans are 'homo economicus' – rational decision makers programmed to act in their best interests – and asserts, instead, that our consistent deviation from these assumed standards reveals new ways to think about the world. —Doug, Audible Editor

Publisher's Summary

Get ready to change the way you think about economics.

Richard H. Thaler has spent his career studying the radical notion that the central agents in the economy are humans - predictable, error-prone individuals. Misbehaving is his arresting, frequently hilarious account of the struggle to bring an academic discipline back down to earth - and change the way we think about economics, ourselves, and our world.

Traditional economics assumes rational actors. Early in his research, Thaler realized these Spock-like automatons were nothing like real people. Whether buying a clock radio, selling basketball tickets, or applying for a mortgage, we all succumb to biases and make decisions that deviate from the standards of rationality assumed by economists. In other words we misbehave. More importantly, our misbehavior has serious consequences. Dismissed at first by economists as an amusing sideshow, the study of human miscalculations and their effects on markets now drives efforts to make better decisions in our lives, our businesses, and our governments.

Coupling recent discoveries in human psychology with a practical understanding of incentives and market behavior, Thaler enlightens listeners about how to make smarter decisions in an increasingly mystifying world. He reveals how behavioral economic analysis opens up new ways to look at everything from household finance to assigning faculty offices in a new building to TV game shows, the NFL draft, and businesses like Uber.

Laced with antic stories of Thaler's spirited battles with the bastions of traditional economic thinking, Misbehaving is a singular look into profound human foibles. When economics meets psychology, the implications for individuals, managers, and policy makers are both profound and entertaining.

Download the accompanying reference guide.

©2015 Richard H. Thaler (P)2015 Audible, Inc.

What Members Say

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  •  
    Jay Friedman Dallas, TX United States 09-30-15
    Jay Friedman Dallas, TX United States 09-30-15 Member Since 2012
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    "Great book if it's your first about Behav. Econ"

    This might be slightly unfair, but I couldn't get into this book because I've essentially heard/read all this before. If you're familiar with the Freakonomics series, Influence, or any of the many other B.E. books, you simply won't find anything new in here. On the other hand, if you're brand new to B.E., this would be a really great starter book. However, as comprehensive as it is, it's nowhere near as entertaining as the Freakonomics series or Influence. I even liked "secrets of the money lab" better.

    41 of 44 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Adi 12-06-15
    Adi 12-06-15 Member Since 2015
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    "Tough to follow way without the grpahs"
    Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

    Tough to follow without the bar charts and graphs that are repeatedly referenced in the audio.

    Not the best content for an audio book


    9 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Barrie Bramley South Africa 10-04-15
    Barrie Bramley South Africa 10-04-15 Member Since 2015

    NufSed

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "I'm a lot smarter than I was before"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    I loved this book. I'm no economist. Didn't study it, don't really understand the technical detail to it, but I loved the interaction and story of what happens when human beings are considered in Economics instead of 'Econs'. This book was a great story of how the behavioural filter was introduced to Economics.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Misbehaving?

    His story of speaking at a conference to 23 MD's about decision making. Such a powerful story of how people make decisions depending on where they're standing.


    What about L. J. Ganser’s performance did you like?

    He did a great job fitting into the book. He could have been the author. He felt / sounded like the author.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    No. I could never have. There was way too much for me to consider, ponder and process for one sitting.


    Any additional comments?

    Fab book. I found it after listening to 'Think like a Freak' Was a great choice to follow up on. I'm moving on to 'Influence' based on it's recommendation in this book.

    21 of 23 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dolores 05-31-15
    Dolores 05-31-15 Member Since 2015
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    "A Wiinner: A Case for Misbehaving"

    This was fabulous. I couldn't put it down. The thread of an academic career will stimulate many students and young professors to find a passion and build on it. The practical sense of the behavioral problems discussed was fantastic. I will look for the problems in my own field to brainstorm solutions from a behavioral point of view. This was fun to read as well as inspiring. Dolores Pretorius, MD, Professor of Radiology, Univ of Calif, San Diego

    11 of 13 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Pam United States 06-03-15
    Pam United States 06-03-15 Member Since 2016

    Science writer in America's heartland

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Entertaining story of the life of a scientist"

    I'd recommend this book to anyone who is curious about life as a scientist. The actual science of behavioral economics is interesting enough if you want to learn more about it, but the author really shines when he describes how he came up with some of his research projects, and how he was able to collaborate with good people and secure funding for his work (which isn't easy!). Thaler makes his life story both informative and funny. This book should be required reading for anyone who wants to be a scientist, regardless of discipline.

    6 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    BillLampert 10-22-15
    BillLampert 10-22-15 Member Since 2015
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    "Ground-Breaking Science"

    This book provides the reader with a firm foundation in understanding the science of Behavioral Economics through a variety of case studies and research examples.

    The stories are entertaining while still being grounded in economic theory and the narration is solid and well-produced. A great effort all-around.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    KD USA 03-30-16
    KD USA 03-30-16 Member Since 2015

    new to navigation

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    "Better read thinking fast and slow"

    Ok book, but authors ego is just just moving out and instead of focusing on exploring he subject there is a lot of self promotion. Thinking fast and slow gives better insight and to add to understanding would highly recommend the fooled by randomness by N: Taleb

    9 of 12 people found this review helpful
  •  
    S. Yates 10-01-16
    S. Yates 10-01-16 Member Since 2016
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    "Excellent, informative, and practical"
    Any additional comments?

    Insightful, humorous, and eye-opening book on behavioral economics. In line with a handful of other books in a similar vein -- basically, that humans are not particularly rational and that some of the mental shortcuts we take that behooved us as we evolved do not necessarily assist us in modern decision-making -- that turn the mirror on human behavior and help a reader understand their own irrational decisions. Thaler has a wonderful sense of humor and a keen eye for human fallacies. His curiosity (like that of Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky) about human behavior and his background in economics pair up nicely and allowed him to examine generally agreed upon economic and financial beliefs and question them. He points out a number of examples of irrationality, and various heuristics and biases, that might be familiar to readers who have read some other books in related fields (including Thinking, Fast and Slow; and Superforecasting), but Thaler's book is still an excellent read and much of his findings dovetail with those of Kahneman and Tversky (he worked with them both) and are all the more interesting as you understand that all of these findings were coming about contemporaneously and upending the economic world.

    Definitely recommended, if for no other reason than to understand yourself and your decision making processes better, but also for the insight into how much framing an option can do to impact how people feel about it and consequently whether or not they take one action versus another.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Gio 05-21-16
    Gio 05-21-16
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    "CV with a long list of anecdotes"

    I seriously struggled to finish the book (but didn't manage). Well read, but it's basically the story of the author research, with a lot of anecdotes (some even brilliant).

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Don Middleton 06-28-15 Member Since 2015
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    "Not just for 'econs'"

    If you have often looked askance at the views of economists, you should give this book a listen. Economics is the social science that seems most often populated by idealists. Normally this breaks into two camps – roughly along the competing views of Friedrich Hyek and John Maynard Keynes. You can think of them as founding fathers of modern economic thought. They, as did most of their followers, used optimized models and assumptions. Assumptions such as that all people make rational economic decisions. You know like anyone possessing a PhD in Economics would. This is called “rational market theory” and as with almost all economic theory it is chock-full of assumptions. This is something that even traditional economists are aware of. Nearly all of their jokes revolve around the premise that “economists make a lot of assumptions.” Kept that in mind the next time an economist tells you a joke. You might even “get it” enough to laugh.

    In the past several decades a growing group of econs (as Thaler likes to call them) have challenged many of those assumptions and begun to study and perform experiments in a field that melds their work with that of another social science – psychologists. It as come to be called “behavioral economics”, but one could just as easily think of it as “more-real-world” economics. Thaler, who modestly and effectively deflects credit, was an early adherent of this approach. The book contains solid economic thought explained in a way that is very helpful to the rest of us – those that find scholastic economics both boring and unrealistic.

    Thaler proclaims that “Econs use optimized models” and then tells us that “One can learn a lot about the world without imposing optimizing models.” Through a series of (often humorous) stories he leads us though his world and the history of behavioral economics, explaining concepts that have been the foundation of economic thought in the simplest possible way. As an example, when explaining the concept of the “efficient market hypothesis”, he helpfully includes the definition of “hypothesis” as “a theory that can't really be tested” and explains how tempting it is to use such things. A dictionary might not define the word that way, but it is certainly appropriate here.

    I would recommend this book to anyone interested in economics or economic policy – even die-hard traditional economists. It may not convert you but it will give you much to ponder. For myself, I will now order Thaler's earlier book “Nudge” which I somehow missed.

    Don M - Queen Creek, AZ

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
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  • Judy Corstjens
    1/27/16
    Overall
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    Story
    "Behavioural Economics in Perspective"

    I've read a lot of behavioural economics books, but this one has a genuinely different perspective. Although it does present many of the standard ideas of behavioural economics, (how we contradict ourselves by wanting inconsistent things, or make systematic errors in our perceptions and decisions etc. and it does this very well) the book's overall theme is behavioural economics itself. It explains how BE impacts on classical economics, and how difficult and challenging it is for classically trained economists to adjust to what is genuinely a paradigm shift. Thaler draws out the importance of these shifts - before I had seen BE as a set of quirky anomalies and wrinkles but Thaler argues that humans, not 'econs', have to be put at the heart of economics, and that this calls for a fundamental reassessment of the subject. Thaler's style is personal (the book is written largely as a memoir) and sometimes it gets a touch self indulgent (the reorganisation of the economics department's offices), but Thaler's humorous tone and wit often carry this off. I loved the concept of the 'invisible hand wave'.

    Narration: perfect, Ganser sounds like a sympathetic American economics professor.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • Tim W
    5/3/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Excellent"

    I thoroughly enjoyed Misbehaving.

    As other reviewers suggest it is quite autobiographical in tone so expect plenty of personal anecdotes from the author's life, rather than a straight-up discussion of the subject matter.

    For me, this works really well. It allows you to get a real insight into the difficulties of trying to push a new way of thinking (behavioral economics) into an established field (traditional economics).

    Misbehaving is, as the subtitle states, about the story of how this new field, behavioral economics came about, rather than just a direct explanation of what behavioral economics is. Although it does a fine job of explaining this too.

    As a sidenote: I found one of the later chapters about the author's work for the UK government especially interesting, as a Brit myself.

    Plus the naration was excellent.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • MWood
    9/16/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Interesting but long"
    Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

    Yes I would, if it was a friend with a dedicated interest in economics and psychology. However, at 13 hours, its quite long for an audio book. Making it hard to digest in places, especially as, at times it felt like an autobiography rather than a book about behavioural economics. Too much time telling us about his life. Maybe there's an abridged version. Having said that some of the points were fascinating, and I think I took quite a lot from it,


    What was the most interesting aspect of this story? The least interesting?

    Ideas and theories were good


    What did you like about the performance? What did you dislike?

    Performance was ok.


    If this book were a film would you go see it?

    n/a


    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Eoin
    6/26/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "makes sense to me"

    Interesting history of the discipline with great stories backed up by sound science. A great read.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • phil chadwick
    5/29/16
    Overall
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    Story
    "Brilliant explanation of behavioural economics"

    Richard Thaler makes a complex academic discipline easy to understand - the mark of true intelligence. Very informative

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Mr. R. D. Cox
    London
    4/9/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "the way things really are"

    what I like most about this book is the provocative title, which I will use
    since my introduction to behavioural economics working on pensions policy in 2007, my fascination with the subject continues to grow
    will read again

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Amazon Customer
    2/23/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Don't sit next to this author at a dinner party..."

    Glad I read this solid history of behavioral economics but the author's waffly anecdotes about academic life and cheesy cornball humour really start grate after four hundred pages

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Amazon Customer
    2/14/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "A bit disappointing."

    This book is interesting and insightful. However I'm not sure if it's the narration or the author but it starts to get very long winded at times. It is as though once the point has been made it has to be remade again and again just to make sure you get it. The topics are interesting and each chapter starts off well and makes you eager to listen. Unfortunately it doesn't keep the momentum. I stopped listening at the 78% mark as I was just becoming too frustrated. I might try reading this book as I suspect it may be the narration.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Georgi Vladkov Petkov
    10/23/15
    Overall
    "Overall good but very annoying language ."

    A lot of the book is "what we did with Dani and how we spend the crazy budjet we were given " . Focus is lost every second chapter.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Danny Trejo
    11/21/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Really scary!!"

    I have just been told that I am not rational in my decisions, in fact this is a great book if you want to be more successful in life. it will teach you not to go with your feelings; but instead be rational with your decisions. do the math, and think ahead.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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