Summary of The Upside of Irrationality

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The Upside of Irrationality book summary
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  • Innovative
  • Well Structured
  • Inspiring


In this sequel to his bestseller, Predictably Irrational, Dan Ariely, a professor of psychology and behavioral economics, returns to the how and why of human beings’ inexplicable thought processes. Through a series of telling, small-scale social experiments, he attempts to quantify such unquantifiables as how satisfaction in work becomes nourished or destroyed, how people value their attractiveness and the attractiveness of others, how humans adapt to adverse or positive circumstances, and how to make pleasure more enduring and annoyances less upsetting. Those who read Ariely’s first book might have the context to better appreciate this one, but he doesn’t seem to hold anything back as he explains his traumatic physical injuries and the lessons, both painful and joyous, those experiences wrought. The author’s warm, direct, compassionate tone, and his willingness to share his frustrations and discoveries, lead getAbstract to recommend this insightful, easy-going tour of the irrational side of the human psyche.

About the Author

Dan Ariely wrote Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions.



How the Mind Works

When author Dan Ariely was young, he suffered third-degree burns on much of his body. An infection during his hospitalization led him to develop hepatitis C. As part of an experimental program, he had to inject himself daily with interferon, a drug then under trial. Though the injections left him feverish, nauseated and disoriented, Ariely proved to be the only person in the experiment who kept up with his daily medications; everyone else procrastinated. Ariely found a “reward” that enabled him to deal with the reaction: After each shot, he would lie in a hammock and watch movies until he could function again. The injections brought an end to his hepatitis C.

From this, Ariely learned that a well-designed reward system could help people face unpleasant tasks and avoid procrastination. He realized the importance of enduring necessary hardships today “for the sake of a better future.” Other hepatitis C patients in the same trial did not take the difficult injections regularly, though the treatment could have cured them, too. The trauma of Ariely’s injuries, and how he adapted to them, led him to study behavioral economics and to run experiments seeking...

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    C. H. 10 years ago
    How ironic that an author who deals inirrationality should have publishers who don't let subscribers in Africa read this.
    Human beings are indeed odd, and publishers doubly so.