Posts Tagged ‘Decision-making’

More on “Predictably Irrational” …

Friday, March 21st, 2008

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Ariely, Dan. Predictably irrational : the hidden forces that shape our decisions.
HarperCollins, 2008.

Dan Ariely’s Predictably Irrational has been on the New York Times Best Seller list for three weeks, currently at #5 for hardcover nonfiction. David Berreby has published an excellent book review of the book in the March 16th Sunday NY Times.

You can also stop by the Ford Library and see our new display on behavioral economics. Check out Dan’s book or the others that are highlighted there.

Comments or questions?:

Return to the Ford Library Home Page

Understanding Human Behavior (and how to use that knowledge in business)

Wednesday, March 12th, 2008

Predictably Irrational book cover

Have you ever wondered why people act the way that they do?

Fuqua’s own Professor Dan Ariely has and he wrote a book about this subject. The Ford Library has a number of copies of this book as well as more great titles on the subject of human behavior (and business). (If you would like more information on Predictably Irrational, please see Dan Ariely’s blog.) As always, you can click on any title below to check availability or to place a hold.

Book Review: The Black Swan

Tuesday, February 26th, 2008

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Taleb, Nassim. The black swan : the impact of the highly improbable.
Random House, 2007.

The Black Swan is a follow-up to the author’s 2001 best-seller, Fooled by Randomness, about the role chance plays in life. Fooled was controversial when released and continues to be a classic text in the hedge fund industry. Writing a general-interest book about probability is in itself quite an accomplishment. With Black Swan, it looks like the author (Lebanon-born, Wharton MBA, doctorate in mathematical finance, Wall Street hedge trader) has done it again.

This time, Taleb uses the image of a black swan to describe an event that is highly improbable yet causes a huge impact. Plus, after the event occurs, people concoct explanations for its occurrence in an attempt to make it seem predictable. The terrorist attack of 9/11 is a black swan. So is Black Friday in 1987. So is the development of the internet. Black swans can be either positive or negative, but either way, they have a huge influence on history.

The Black Swan considers fundamental questions about the nature of randomness. The central thesis is that the outliers, not part of the bell curve, are too often ignored by social scientists and these outliers have enormous importance for individuals, government, science and society.

Book Review: Mistakes were made …

Thursday, February 7th, 2008

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Tavris, Carol & Elliot Aronson. Mistakes were made (but not by me) : why we justify foolish beliefs, bad decisions, and hurtful acts. Harcourt, 2007.

Tavris and Aronson’s book offers the following story told by organizational consultants Warren Bennis and Burt Nanus: “A promising junior executive of IBM was involved in a risky venture for the company and managed to lose over $10 million in the gamble. It was a disaster. When Watson [Tom Watson, Sr.–IBM’s founder] called the nervous executive into his office, the young man blurted out, ‘I guess you want my resignation?’ Watson said, ‘You can’t be serious. We’ve just spent $10 million educating you!'” A $10 million dollar mistake is hard to hide, but why are most people reluctant to own up to any mistakes, even of the non-$10 million dollar variety?

Not only does no one like to admit mistakes, when confronted with those mistakes, most of us will go to great lengths to justify them rather than admit error. This book illuminates the ways self justification hinders our organizations, legal system, scientific research, and personal relationships. Full of pertinent examples from the interrogation of innocent suspects to the unreliable nature of memories, the book explains how the stress of cognitive dissonance and personal bias impairs our judgment in insidious ways. Tavris and Aronson make their case using an engaging combination of anecdotes and research studies. This book is well-written and thought-provoking.

© Reviewer: Meg Trauner & Ford Library – Fuqua School of Business. All rights reserved.