Book of the Month Review: Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely

March Book of the Month: Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely

April Book of the Month: Coolidge by Amity Shlaes

In my disgustingly forced noble efforts at self-efficacy I added a new blog feature (complete with Amazon ads on the right sidebar) to read and (often) review a book each month. For March, I read a well-known and highly regarded book on human behavior by Dr. Dan Ariely, Predictably Irrational

Predictably Irrational is the first of two books (the sequel, The Upside of Irrationality is just as good) that explore irrational patterns of human behavior. What makes this book appealing to marketing research professionals, is that his assertions are not based on academic theory, but controlled experiments.

Without spoiling anything, I’ll share my favorite experiment.

Chapter 7: The High Price of Ownership

Author, Dan Ariely, is currently a professor at Duke University so it’s only fitting that one chapter uses Blue Devil basketball for an experiment. In Chapter 7, Ariely explores our irrational tendency to fall in love with what we already own.

Duke basketball tickets, in tiny Cameron Indoor Stadium are no doubt a tough find. As such, students camp out for weeks just to be entered into a lottery for tickets to the big game. After one such lottery was held, following weeks of camping in line, Ariely got the list of students who entered the lottery and called those who didn’t win. He asked how much they would be willing to spend on a ticket and worked his best to drive up the price.

Because all the lottery entrants had camped out, there is no rhyme or reason to believe that either the winners or losers had more desire to go to the event. After all, they had all camped out, and a lottery randomly determined who would get tickets among them.

Predictably Irrational - Book of the Month

He then called those who won a ticket in the lottery, and asked what it would take to buy it from them, trying to find a buyer and a seller with compatible prices. Remarkably, there was not a single pair with compatible prices. Those who didn’t win a ticket were only willing to pay on average $170 for a ticket, while those who did win asked for a whopping average price of $2,400.

What changed for these people in the few hours since the lottery that would justify a $2,230 chasm in valuation? Ownership.

This is why everyone in your fantasy baseball league thinks their players are due for breakout seasons and it’s so hard to complete a worthwhile trade.

The book is packed with interesting experiments like these and was worth my time. I’d recommend it. You can buy it below or just leave a comment in the comments section and I”ll give it to you for free if you cover the $6.00 of shipping.

April’s book of the month will be Coolidge by Amity Shlaes. Hopefully that one is good too.

Coolidge: Amity Shlaes

If you enjoyed this post, please click the Facebook “Like” button on the right sidebar. You can share your opinions in the comment section below or by tweeting to @Ryan_Kantor. Thanks for reading!


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