Summary of The Why Axis

Hidden Motives and the Undiscovered Economics of Everyday Life

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The Why Axis book summary
Here’s how experiments and incentives make the world go ‘round…better.


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Professors Uri Gneezy and John A. List – pioneers in behavioral economics – share a belief in alternative experimentation. Their real-world field tests produce surprising outcomes in varied and unlikely arenas such as business, charitable giving, health, crime, student test results, mechanics’ estimates and other societal concerns. Gneezy and List hold that organizations and individuals should continually, purposefully experiment to find the most effective methods to achieve their goals. You may have often heard their experiments cited without knowing the source. getAbstract recommends their approach to anyone seeking original, functional methods to increase performance in all social and business endeavors.

In this summary, you will learn

  • Why people are motivated to do what they do,
  • Why assumptions about people’s behavior are often wrong, and
  • How field experiments can accelerate progress and lead to better decision making in general.


Field Experimentation
Organizations and individuals should approach the world as though it were a giant laboratory. To learn why people do things, you have to watch them – ideally when they don't know you are. Before you can change people’s behavior, you need to understand their motivations...
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About the Authors

Uri Gneezy is a behavioral economist and professor at the University of California. John A. List is an economist and professor at the University of Chicago.

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