It took me quite a bit of time to finish reading this book not because it is hopelessly dense with stuff that slides off the cranium, a symptom of excessive jargon, or because it was of garangutan length.
It took me time to look at human stupidity in the eye.
A book by a human on human irrationality fulfills my dose of irony for the day. Nevertheless, the author starts the book with his magnesium flare explosion which allowed him to observe human behaviour in the most routine yet unusual situations. Take, for instance, the removal of bandages in hospital when he was young. Nurses would yank the bandages off his burnt skin, leaving him to deal with sharp pain and sharper questions that never left the confines of the playpen of his head all along. How did the nurses know that stripping the bandage off quickly ensures lesser pain is inflicted?
The fact was, they didn’t. It was easier for them to deal with the task, as opposed to slowly peeling off bandages.
I harbour deep respect for the man because he has not stopped learning or asking questions.
When we read reviews before choosing to watch a movie, or ask friends admit a place before deciding to move, how can we not want to know about ourselves so that we don’t make the mistake we repeatedly do?
So here are nine things I learnt!
<1> We tend to think relatively more often than we think. While evaluating, it is easier with ‘comparables’ around, as opposed to none. He writes about what he calls the ‘decoy effect’.
What if you are single, and hope to appeal to as many attractive dating partners as possible at an upcoming singles event?
Ariely’s advice would be to bring a friend who has your basic physical characteristics “(similar coloring, body type, facial features)”, but slightly less attractive. Why?
Because the folks you want to attract will have a hard time evaluating you with no comparables around. However, if you are compared with a “-you,” the decoy friend will do a lot to make you look better, not just in comparison with the decoy but also in general, and in comparison with all the other people around. It may sound irrational (and I can’t guarantee this), but the chances are good that you will
get some extra attention. Of course, don’t just stop at looks.
If great conversation will win the day, be sure to pick a friend for the singles event who can’t match your smooth delivery and rapier wit. By comparison, you’ll sound great. Now that you know this secret, be careful: when a similar but better-looking friend of the same sex asks you to accompany him or her for a night out, you might wonder whether you have been invited along for your company or merely as a decoy.
<2> To make a man covet a thing, it is only necessary to make that thing difficult to attain.