My immersive introduction to irrationality took place many years ago while I was overcoming injuries sustained in an explosion (here is a description of my experiences in the hospital). The range of treatments in the burn department, and particularly the daily "bath" made me face a variety of irrational behaviors that were immensely painful and persistent.
Upon leaving the hospital, I wanted to understand how to better deliver painful and unavoidable treatments to patients so I began conducting research in this area. After completing this initial research project, I became engrossed with the idea that we repeatedly and predictably make the wrong decisions in many aspects of our lives and that research could help change some of these patterns.
A few years later, decision making and behavioral economics dramatically influenced my personal life when I found myself using all of the knowledge I'd accumulated in order to convince Sumi to marry me (a decision that was in my best interest but not necessarily in hers). After managing to convince her, I realized that if understanding decision-making could help me achieve this goal, it could help anyone in their daily life.
Predictably Irrational and The Upside of Irrationality are my attempt to take my research findings and describe them in non academic terms so that more people will learn about this type of research, discover the excitement of behavioral economics, and possibly use some of the insights to enrich their own lives. In terms of official positions, I am the James B. Duke Professor of Psychology and Behavioral Economics at Duke University and a founding member of the Center for Advanced Hindsight. My free time is spent working on a guide to the kitchen and life--Dining Without Crumbs: The Art of Eating Over the Kitchen Sink--and of course, studying the irrational ways we all behave.
Most of us think of ourselves as honest, but, in fact, we all cheat. From Washington to Wall Street, the classroom to the workplace, unethical behavior is everywhere. None of us is immune, whether it’s the white lie to head off trouble or padding our expense reports. In a presentation based on his most recent book The (Honest) Truth About Dishonesty, award-winning, best-selling author Dan Ariely turns his unique insight and innovative research to the question of dishonesty.
Generally, we assume that cheating, like most other decisions, is based on a rational cost-benefit analysis. But Ariely argues, and then demonstrates, that it’s actually the irrational forces that we don’t take into account that often determine whether we behave ethically or not. For every Enron or political bribe, there are countless puffed résumés, hidden commissions and knockoff purses. Ariely shows why some things are easier to lie about; how getting caught matters less than we think; and how business practices pave the way for unethical behavior, both intentionally and unintentionally. Ariely explores how unethical behavior works in the personal, professional and political worlds, and how it affects all of us, even as we think of ourselves as having high moral standards.
But all is not lost. Ariely also identifies what keeps us honest, pointing the way for achieving higher ethics in our everyday lives. With compelling personal and academic findings, Ariely will change the way we see ourselves, our actions and others.
We Are Predictably Irrational.
Do you know why we so often promise ourselves to diet and exercise, only to have the thought vanish when the dessert cart rolls by?
Do you know why we sometimes find ourselves excitedly buying things we don’t really need? Or at prices that we would otherwise concede are beyond our budget?
Do you know why we still have a headache after taking a five-cent aspirin, but why that same headache vanishes when the aspirin costs 50 cents?
Do you know why people who have been asked to recall the Ten Commandments tend to be more honest (at least immediately afterward) than those who haven’t? Or why honor codes actually do reduce dishonesty in the workplace?
Dan Ariely provides answers to these and many other questions that have implications for your personal life, for your business life and for the way you look at the world.
For businesses, these irrationalities help unlock our understanding of common behaviors and choices in shopping, pricing, investing and saving, employee recruitment and selection, office politics and a myriad of other choices and interactions.
As a bonus, you will also learn how much fun social science can be, and how to see more clearly the causes for our everyday behaviors, including the many cases in which we are predictably irrational.
One of the challenges we face when we try to improve our health is that what is good for us right now is often not what is good for us in the long term. Dieting, for example, is not so much fun now, but good for the future; the same can be said for medical tests, procrastination and even saving money. When we face such tradeoffs, we often focus on the short term rather than our long-term goals, and in the process get ourselves into trouble. But there is hope. In this talk, Dan Ariely describes multiple experiments that help us understand where and why we fall short, and more importantly, how health care leaders can use this knowledge to develop methods that will ultimately help us overcome our natural (and less than desirable) inclinations when it comes to our decisions.