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Sway: The Irresistible Pull of Irrational Behavior | [Rom Brafman, Ori Brafman]

Sway: The Irresistible Pull of Irrational Behavior

A Harvard Business School student pays over $200 for a $20 bill. Washington, D.C., commuters ignore a free subway concert by a violin prodigy. A veteran airline pilot attempts to take off without control-tower clearance and collides with another plane on the runway. Why do we do the wildly irrational things we sometimes do?
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Publisher's Summary

Like the best-selling Blink and Freakonomics, this lively narrative is a fresh view of the world, explaining the previously inexplicable and revealing hidden influences on human decision-making.

A Harvard Business School student pays over $200 for a $20 bill. Washington, D.C., commuters ignore a free subway concert by a violin prodigy. A veteran airline pilot attempts to take off without control-tower clearance and collides with another plane on the runway. Why do we do the wildly irrational things we sometimes do?

Drawing on cutting-edge research from the fields of social psychology, behavioral economics, and organizational behavior, brothers Ori and Rom Brafman reveal the dynamic forces that act on us repeatedly over time, affecting nearly every aspect of our personal and business lives. They show how we are sabotaged by loss aversion (going to great lengths to avoid perceived losses), the diagnosis bias (ignoring evidence that contradicts our initial take on a person or situation), and commitment (even when a plan isn't working, we are reluctant to change course).

Weaving together colorful stories about dot-com millionaires, game-show audiences, NBA coaches, and the U.S. Supreme Court, this audiobook tours the flip side of reason and points us toward a more rational life.

©2008 Copyright © Ori and Rom Brafman. Recorded by arrangement with Currency/Doubleday Broadway Publishing Group, a division of Random House, Inc.; (P)2008 HighBridge Company

What the Critics Say

"Brilliant." (Klaus Schwab, chairman of the World Economic Forum)
"Sway helped me recognize an aspect of irrational behavior in my experimental work in physics. Sometimes I have jumped into some research that didn't feel quite right...but some irrational lure, such as the hope of quick success, pulled me in." (Martin L. Perl, 1995 Nobel Laureate in physics)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.9 (333 )
5 star
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4.0 (134 )
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3.9 (135 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Martin Ile-Bizard, Quebec, Canada 12-10-08
    Martin Ile-Bizard, Quebec, Canada 12-10-08
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    "Disappointing book"

    If you want to understand the reasons behind irrational behaviour, "Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions by Dan Ariely" is a much better choice.

    The authors of "Sway" preferred storytelling to detailed explanation to explain irrational behaviours. Although their stories are mildly entertaining, they lack the depth and details of Ariely's book. Unless you are looking for superficial answers to irrational behaviours, I would recommend you invest a few more hours in reading Ariely's book and get a much better understanding.

    26 of 28 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Andy Westport, CT, United States 08-23-08
    Andy Westport, CT, United States 08-23-08 Member Since 2002
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    "terrific"

    I really enjoyed listening to Sway. The authors gave great examples of poor decision making They backed up the examples by laying out a "research supported" framework that helped explain what caused these bad decisions to occur. Further, they also laid out frameworks of decision making designed to avoid making poor decision. Narration was solid.

    8 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Joshua Kim Etna, NH, United States 06-10-12
    Joshua Kim Etna, NH, United States 06-10-12 Member Since 2005

    mostly nonfiction listener

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    "Swayed"

    The Irresistible Pull of Irrational Behavior by Ori Brafman, Rom Brafman is a sweet, short popularizer of the current social psych and behavioral econ research.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Cynthia Monrovia, California, United States 05-01-13
    Cynthia Monrovia, California, United States 05-01-13 Member Since 2012

    Audible listener who's grateful for a long commute!

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Rationally liked this book"

    Fans of Malcolm Gladwell (especially “The Tipping Point: How Little Things Make a Big Difference,” 2000 and “Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking,” 2005) will appreciate Ori Brafman and Rom Brafman’s “Sway: The Irresistible Power of Irrational Behavior” I have all of Gladwell’s books. In hardback. And I really liked “Sway”. Actually, “Sway” was an easier read/listen. “Sway” has a lot more anecdotal stories to illustrate the points the Brothers Brafman are making.

    My favorite chapter was Eight, “Dissenting Justice.” The Brafmans have the most thorough and easy to understand discussion of how the US Supreme Court reviews cases it decides to hear. The purpose of Supreme Courts conferences is to determine how the Court will rule, and the process – honed over hundreds of years – is to make rational decisions, and to respect the voices of dissent. Very few organizations, business or government, would have the time or discipline to engage in the same process – but a modified procedure, encouraging similar careful consideration of the facts, would be well applied used in corporate decision making processes.

    Chapter Seven, “Cocaine and Compassion” was a close second to Chapter Eight. In “Cocaine and Compassion”, the Brafmans discuss the difference between pleasure center motivation (money, cocaine) and altruistic motivation. The bottom line is that people are more likely to cooperate and perform well for altruistic reasons – and, for biological reasons, the motivation is going to be either pleasure or altruism, but not both at the same time.

    Altruism is discussed extensively in Adam Grant’s 2013 “Give and Take: A Revolutionary Approach to Success.” “Sway” was easier to understand, and I think I would have had an easier time with “Give and Take” if I’d read/listened to “Sway” first.

    I liked parts of “Sway” so much, I listened to parts of it more than once.

    The narration was good, but I could have done without the random music – I wasn’t sure what sections it was setting apart.

    13 of 15 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Bennett Toronto, Ontario, Canada 06-28-09
    Bennett Toronto, Ontario, Canada 06-28-09
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    "I was swayed by other reviews"

    I passed this book over several times because of a couple of bad reviews. The truth is, if you enjoy your information delivered through narrative, you'll like this book very much.

    10 of 12 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Omar 07-14-14
    Omar 07-14-14 Member Since 2011

    “Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere.” - Albert Einstein

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    "Anecdotes!"

    If you have before read/listened to books for Daniel Kahneman, Dan Ariely, Daniel Gilbert or any of the other great psychologists who illustrate the human biases, heuristics and mental fallacies ... then avoid this book.
    The books only provides anecdotal evidence for already well studied topics while putting the whole thing in a very clumsy, shallow model.
    Most of the anecdotes are entertaining though :)

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Loyola WASHINGTON, DC, United States 01-02-12
    Loyola WASHINGTON, DC, United States 01-02-12 Member Since 2011
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    "An effective book"
    If you could sum up Sway in three words, what would they be?

    SWAY opens your Eyes to understanding irrational behavior.


    What was the most compelling aspect of this narrative?

    I could begin to understand my own actions over the past years.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    Not really, but it made me think more deeply.


    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jonathan Sherborn, MA, USA 08-09-08
    Jonathan Sherborn, MA, USA 08-09-08
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    "Derivative of Better Previous Books"

    This book copies/steals the general format and concepts of past books on the same subject (e.g., Black Swan). The problem is the authors just aren't at the same intellectual caliber as the others. Many of the long stories, aren't that interesting and come from the "Academy for Proving the Incredibly Obvious." Other interpretations of contrived class-room games are just plain bizarre (e.g., bids on $20 bill above $20 come from poorly designed game where people don't just cut their losses--author ties this in a tendentious way to U.S. in Iraq).

    7 of 11 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jason Panama City, FL, USA 02-12-10
    Jason Panama City, FL, USA 02-12-10
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    "Freakonomics > Sway"

    Seemed like a less interesting version of Freakonomics.

    5 of 8 people found this review helpful
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    William SALEM, OREGON, United States 05-10-13
    William SALEM, OREGON, United States 05-10-13
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    "Excellent use of examples to illustrate"
    What made the experience of listening to Sway the most enjoyable?

    The author does an excellent job of using specific examples to help illustrate the lessons. The listener is given both the theoretical (for more abstract thinkers), and specific examples to help others relate and understand. Very informative, and exceptionally well organized.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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