About a year ago I read Predictably Irrational and loved it. So when I heard about Dan Ariely’s latest book The Upside of Irrationality, I bought and read it immediately. And just like the first one, it was excellent.
While the topic of both books is irrationality, the second one takes a slightly different approach. Where Predictably Irrational pointed out the various irrationalities in human behavior, The Upside of Irrationality shows how irrationality influences our decisions and thus have a significant and long-term impact on our personal and professional lives.
For example, it explains how bankers have ended up earning million-dollar bonus, and why such compensation still does very little to increase their motivation and performance. It is also explained why it is that we care more about a child that has fallen and gotten stuck in a well somewhere in our country than the much more severe suffering of millions of children every day in Africa and elsewhere. This book is also more personal than the first one, as Ariely uses several stories from his own life to illustrates these points and show how even he has been influenced by irrationality in several important life choices.
In addition to pointing out these various biases in our decision making, Ariely gives some practical advice on how to deal with them. My favorite is his suggestion to go canoeing on a date to find out how compatible you are with a potential romantic partner. Good stuff.