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Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions | [Dan Ariely]

Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions

In a series of illuminating, often surprising experiments, MIT behavioral economist Dan Ariely refutes the common assumption that we behave in fundamentally rational ways. Blending everyday experience with groundbreaking research, Ariely explains how expectations, emotions, social norms, and other invisible, seemingly illogical forces skew our reasoning abilities.
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Publisher's Summary

Why do our headaches persist after taking a one-cent aspirin but disappear when we take a 50-cent aspirin? Why does recalling the 10 Commandments reduce our tendency to lie, even when we couldn't possibly be caught? Why do we splurge on a lavish meal but cut coupons to save 25 cents on a can of soup? Why do we go back for second helpings at the unlimited buffet, even when our stomachs are already full? And how did we ever start spending $4.15 on a cup of coffee when, just a few years ago, we used to pay less than a dollar?

When it comes to making decisions in our lives, we think we're in control. We think we're making smart, rational choices. But are we? In a series of illuminating, often surprising experiments, MIT behavioral economist Dan Ariely refutes the common assumption that we behave in fundamentally rational ways. Blending everyday experience with groundbreaking research, Ariely explains how expectations, emotions, social norms, and other invisible, seemingly illogical forces skew our reasoning abilities.

Not only do we make astonishingly simple mistakes every day, but we make the same types of mistakes, Ariely discovers. We consistently overpay, underestimate, and procrastinate. We fail to understand the profound effects of our emotions on what we want, and we overvalue what we already own. Yet these misguided behaviors are neither random nor senseless. They're systematic and predictable - making us predictably irrational.

From drinking coffee to losing weight, from buying a car to choosing a romantic partner, Ariely explains how to break through these systematic patterns of thought to make better decisions. Predictably Irrational will change the way we interact with the world - one small decision at a time.

Download the accompanying reference guide.

©2008 Dan Ariely; (P)2008 HarperCollins Publishers

What Members Say

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  •  
    Neale BELDONAustralia 05-04-08
    Neale BELDONAustralia 05-04-08 Member Since 2006
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Great listen"

    This is a great audio book. It explains a lot of human's irrational behaviour. The reading is great. It is humorous and enlightening and offers some great conversation starters eg the power of "Free". Buying this audio book was a great rational and irrational decision. Definitely worth a credit.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Forrest Venice, CA, USA 02-24-08
    Forrest Venice, CA, USA 02-24-08
    HELPFUL VOTES
    37
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    "Wow"

    I could only hope everyone would read this book. Perfectly narated and so full of information. I was really spellbound and will most likley have to listen to it again. Thank you Proffessor!

    34 of 44 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Peter Milford, CT, United States 05-01-10
    Peter Milford, CT, United States 05-01-10
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    "On "Predictably Irrational""

    Informative, challenging, and entertaining. Ariely brings to the fore ideas that we might have been vaguely aware of on some subliminal level, but never articulated with such clarity, if at all.
    Other ideas are challenging, maybe even counterintuitive, but they will always get you to think.

    The book is delightfully read by Simon Jones, whose British accent brings a droll humor to Ariely's words.

    Recommended.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Timothy Ardmore, PA, US Minor Outlying Islands 01-23-10
    Timothy Ardmore, PA, US Minor Outlying Islands 01-23-10
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    "Predictable Arguments"

    I was surprised to discover that most of the arguments made by the author were obvious (or at least had occurred to me) prior to reading the book. Still I learned a thing or to but thought the arguments were much too drawn out and I found myself advancing through the book

    5 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Catarina Stockholm, Sweden 10-25-09
    Catarina Stockholm, Sweden 10-25-09 Member Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Entertaining"

    This is an entertaining read! Made me think to how apply this knowledge to business and other things. Maybe that would be my only comment really, cut out a couple of experiments and focus more of how we can apply this knowledge. Dan Ariely is even more brilliant as a public speaker, check him out online!

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer Glendale, CA USA 09-24-09
    Amazon Customer Glendale, CA USA 09-24-09 Member Since 2009

    Walt

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    "unfortunately mediocre"

    On the whole, his research methods are seriously flawed and his results to conclusions leaps are often gigantic. Still, he manages to come to some very good observations that do need more consideration than we often give them. The hubris behind his recommendations is really uncalled for, though.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Bryan Smyrna, TN, USA 03-08-08
    Bryan Smyrna, TN, USA 03-08-08
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    "Insightful and Counter-Intuitive"

    What a wonderful book! I was amazed by the depth of research and the, sometimes amazing, discoveries. For years I've wondered why we often behave in ways that make no logical sense. Predictably Irrational addresses those behaviors, their triggers, how they become habits, and how they change. I heartily recommend this book.

    -- Bryan Entzminger

    5 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Linda Palo Alto, CA, United States 02-19-10
    Linda Palo Alto, CA, United States 02-19-10 Member Since 2006
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    "not an "outlier""

    This book runs a somewhat in the theme of theories in which Black Swans and 'outliers'may actually be explicable or rationalizable. Ariely does a great job of explaining why he personally became interested in studying and questioning events and the results of his work. It's a very interesting book.

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    John J. Niebler 07-15-09 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Utterly fascinating book"

    Great book. Written in very clear language.

    Example(paraphrased by me):
    In the 80s, the Coke vs Pepsi battle.
    Pepsi said it was preferred in BLIND taste tests.
    Coke said it was preferred in taste tests.
    Niether were fudging the results.

    The amazing result is that in BLIND taste tests people preferred Pepsi.
    When people SAW THE CANS as the sodas were being poured, they preferred Coke.
    Again, well design taste tests in both cases. Since people were not influenced by the testers or the test, it was the Coke Brand that made people prefer the Coke.

    The book is full of these crazy, "Wow, I can't believe that's how our brain works" scenarios.

    6 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Charlotte A. Hu San Antonio, TX, United States 06-09-13
    Charlotte A. Hu San Antonio, TX, United States 06-09-13 Member Since 2008

    USMC journalist, turned Embassy FSO, now USAF Web Chief

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    "Compare with Blink"

    I made the mistake of reading Predictably Irrational at the same time as I was reading Blink. This is a problem because although both books are great, they advance virtual opposite concepts and both have solid research and sociological/statistical evidence to support their conclusions.
    I often make Blink decisions – like the man I married, but then sometimes I spend extensive time researching. According to Blink, that extensive research may result in the wrong decision, but according to predictably irrational, people often compare apples with apples, or so we think and come out with a conclusion that isn’t logical.
    For example, we purchased 3 properties – 2 rentals and one residence. They are each in a distinct economic sector of the US. One of the rentals was the price of a car, the other, a small down home, and the third in a major metropolitan region. In each case, we pretty much matched the median price for that economic region, based on research about the local housing market, crime trends, flood zones, etc. However predictably irrational says that people tend to pay the same amount for each home regardless of what geographic region it is in and what the local market forces are. So, apparently, we dodged the bullet there, by doing extensive research.
    However, Malcolm contends that people need to listen to their gut and feel a decision. I don’t know that he would argue that this is the only way to make a decision, so much as that we shouldn’t let extensive research and scientific study overwhelm or silence our own intuitive sense of what we know.
    So, the challenge becomes how to blend the two remarkable and contradictory books into a guideline for effective decision making. Regardless of where you come out, I do recommend reading them both in a relatively short time frame, so you can compare the concepts side by side. Fascinating and intriguing ideas in both, doubly so when read together.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
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  • Samuel
    United Kingdom
    6/22/13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Wonderfully engaging insights into your own mind"
    Would you listen to Predictably Irrational again? Why?

    There were so many bit where I felt i needed to stop and think about how this impacts my daily life that I'm sure reading it again would reveal much that I've forgotten.


    What other book might you compare Predictably Irrational to, and why?

    It has similarities to "Intuition Pumps" by Dan Dennett, but is more fun to listen to.


    Which scene did you most enjoy?

    The many examples of "the decoy effect"


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

    Yes


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Luis
    Kingston, United Kingdom
    9/1/12
    Overall
    "An eye opening account of human irrationality"

    I really enjoyed this book as Arliely not only discusses how people are irrational, but demonstrates that these behaviours can accurately be predicted and exploited by keener minds.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • A User
    2/17/12
    Overall
    "predicatably irrational"

    eceptional!
    this book is well written and read and you often find yourself immersed in self reflection and soon gain a desire to undo those irrational traits that we all have. i often find myself listening to this book every 4 or so months

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Jim
    Twickenham, United Kingdom
    9/3/11
    Overall
    "A bit thin"

    Gave up on this after about an hour. Doesn't really cover as much useful material as Cialdini

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Maja
    Chesterfield, United Kingdom
    8/15/11
    Overall
    "Predictably Irrational"

    Excellent book with a fresh approach to business psychology. If you are looking for something different to the usual business books, this one is entertaining and insightful. Worth a read.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Jeanette
    Barnsley, United Kingdom
    2/16/11
    Overall
    "Excellent Science Factual"

    This book is excellently constructed, and what an inspired choice of reader in Simon Jones, Arthur Dent from the BBC original Hitch-Hicker's Guide to the Galaxy on Radio 4. Although this is a serious text in its message, it is charming to have a humorous edge given by a a good actor. Ariely's message is enhanced by this presentation, a great pleasure to listen to.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • John
    londonUnited Kingdom
    11/25/10
    Overall
    "Fantastic"

    This book is truly a 5 star, I couldn't put it down. Every idea put forward is backed up with clear concise experiments. This is not a load of waffle like so many other books I have read.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • James
    Beaconsfield, United Kingdom
    11/2/10
    Overall
    "Eye-opening"

    Wow. Very interesting and of practical application too.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Nicholas
    LONDONUnited Kingdom
    6/5/10
    Overall
    "Fascinating"

    This provides real insights into how we behave and why. I found it amusing and will be listening to it again.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Vilnis
    NewentUnited Kingdom
    3/29/10
    Overall
    "Started strong, but far too long"

    Some of the early parts of this book were illuminating (such as how we can use decoys to influence people's choices among alternatives) and interesting (how we are drawn to things that are free). But about a third of the way through, I began to feel that it was becoming over-written and needed drastic pruning. It lacked the pace of, for example, 'Yes: 50 Secrets from the Science of Persuasion' which I had listened to a couple of months before. I found Ariely's last few chapters a real effort to wade through and ultimately unrewarding.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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