The Upside of Irrationality
Economic theory leads us to believe that humans act as “rational beings” when making decisions, however; in his book The Upside of Irrationality, Dan Ariely demonstrates that defying logic is part of what makes us human. In Upside, Ariely examines several aspects of the human condition through a series of experiments.
The outcome of these experiments generally provides intriguing insights and truths into the sometimes-aberrant nature of human behavior. Each chapter presents a separate topic, which is qualitatively and quantitatively examined to elucidate the dichotomy between logic and action experienced by people. The book is separated ...view middle of the document...
The reader is ultimately left with their own interpretation of how that affects them and what they learn from it. A perfect example is the “Not-invented-here” bias, which explains how a strong sense of ownership of ones own ideas or processes leads to the dismissal of possible better ideas from someone else. The obvious lesson learned is there can be significant opportunity costs associated with not considering other peoples ideas due to pride. However, it can also be interpreted as someone who understands how to manipulate another persons desire for ownership can lead them to do things they hadn’t intended to do. In allowing the reader to explore, or exploit, the behavioral phenomena presented, Ariely’s audience gains infinitely more utility from the content presented in the book.
While overall, the book is a very satisfying read; it is not without its minor shortcomings. Although Ariely presents many different entertaining situations in which irrationality plays a part in our everyday lives, some of the over-arcing themes in each chapter become redundant. In chapter two, Ariely speaks to the meaning of labor, “You are what you do”, and how if this is taken advantage of, can produce adverse results in the workplace. Chapter three presents us with an evaluation of what Ariely calls the “IKEA effect” and goes on to explain the irrationality of why we overvalue what we make. In chapter four, Ariely describes what he calls the, “Not-invented-here” bias, which explains why people think there own ideas are the most valuable. While Ariely administers simple enlightening experiments in each chapter that reinforces his hypothesis, the underlying impetus for each behavioral phenomenon relates to a strong sense of ownership and pride.
Though the book is not chronologically written, chapters two through four essentially address the same thing in different scenarios, which becomes somewhat repetitive by the end of chapter three. This is also evident in the second half of the book as Ariely introduces the concept of “Adaptation” in chapter six and carries this through to chapter eight. Because the book is organized into individual chapters presenting information exclusive of one another, the redundancy in some of the chapters seems as if Ariely simply stretched the main topic through multiple chapters.
Organizational Behavior Insights
One of the key...