The Pequod Review:
Dan Ariely's Predictably Irrational is one of the earliest and best books to come out of the early 2000s wave of behavioral economics best-sellers. Ariely argues that our irrationality often leads us to make poor choices: We feel better after buying an expensive drug rather than an identical cheaper version, we tend to buy the second most expensive item on a restaurant menu (leading chefs to manipulate the menu to guide our choices), we have an enormous bias toward free items rather than nearly free items, we overvalue what we already own relative to what we could gain, and we all cheat and steal just a little bit (especially when it is a step removed from money).
The good news though is that our irrationality is predictable (“it happens the same way, again and again”) which means if we are aware these tendencies, we can try to be more vigilant and use techniques to overcome them. Ariely’s book is fun, witty and intelligent, however given the success of behavioral economics in recent years, his examples and arguments are probably already familiar to even moderately-informed readers today.