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. 🙂

[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]