I am Predictably Irrational

June 16, 2009 / Opinion, Reviews / 5 Comments

I have a perpetual struggle against the word FREE. I always caution against FREE because I know it always entails some sort of cost or condition. But I still fall for it, time after time, especially when buying sanitary pads. The amount of times I have been duped into buying the wrong variety pads because of that “EXTRA pads” or “FREE pack” is utterly embarassing. The FREE or EXTRA is always so distracting that I forget to check whether it was Ultra or Regular. What is sneaky way of clearing inventory, Whisper / Always!

This is just one example of a long list of things I noticed, stuggled with, but could never really verbalize or understand that momentary lapse in what I assumed was my foolproof rationality…until I read Dan Ariely’s Predictably Irrational. (which I finally found the time to finish, thanks to the fever that has finally grant me a day’s rest from work.)

It’s an amazing, amazing read. It really explains what I noticed long ago in my own decisions ever since I came across Robert Cialdini‘s Influence. With Influence, I thought that if seemingly superficial things like words, order and looks could influence someone else’s decisions, then there must be loopholes in their decision-making processes that allowed for these things to influence them in the first place. So I began to carefully inspected my own decision-making processes.

I started to notice that I made strange decisions like paying 5$ for unneeded, overpriced coffee, and then trying desperately to save $5 from my prescription medication by traveling an hour in search of a cheaper drugstore.

And let’s also not mention all the times I could’ve helped that old lady cross the street or spared that homeless man a quarter but was rushing from class to class, so “I just didn’t have time”, while obnoxiously thinking what a good Samaritan I was when I help lost strangers find their way only at a time which is convenient for me.

But with Dan Ariely’s book, I feel a little better of myself now knowing that I’m not the only one in the world who is not perfectly rational. More importantly, however, is that I now not only recognize, but also fully understand the err in my decision-making processes.

With that knowledge, I shall no longer be duped into buying the wrong pads again… I hope. ๐Ÿ™‚

[Edit] Sorry, if you are expecting to discuss this book at length. This is more of quick reaction than a review. I’m currently too sick to digest and analyze everything. But I share a lot of information social psychology, in particular self-control and decision making processes on my Tumblr at propagenda.org and my Shared Items on Google Reader. If you have time to comb through my entries, perhaps you may catch a glimpse of what I think of this. Cheers, Ivy.[/Edit]

  • I’m pretty sure now-a-days if you help an old lady cross the street, she’d be more scared than anything. ‘Least in NYC anyway.

    I only buy things on sale that I would normally buy anyway. That’s the trick. Stocking up is OK too as long as you’ll use the stuff.

    Pads are like the number one thing you wanna make sure you’re buying the right kind of. Don’t look at the price, just buy what you normally would ๐Ÿ˜›

  • I’m a lot like you, I get so easily distracted by the word “free” I fail to notice other more important things that I should be noticing ๐Ÿ™

  • That’s funny. I drove 5 miles once because I wanted to save $3 on a book. Defeats the purpose.

  • I must agree with you about free/discounted things. I always teach my mom to look at the general picture instead of jumping to the stuff-is-free-must-get conclusion. ๐Ÿ˜› Of course some free stuff are worth it but most of the time, either you and the company with the free stuff both gain/lose equally, or you gain a slight bit and vice versa. Even so, can’t deny the fact that *free* things are attractive though!

  • the power of free can influence our mind!
    I read that book by dan ariely a year ago. It’s really good stuff. you should watch his videos on youtube too.

    yeah, everyone is predictably irrational. Behavior economics roxx!