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Sometimes irrationality is good

As members of the human race, we pride our selves in being sensible decision makers.

The Upside of Irrationality
Author: Dan Ariely
Publisher: Harper Collins
Price: $29.99

As members of the human race, we pride our selves in being sensible decision makers. According to social scientist Dan Ariely, author of the wildly successful book Predictably Irrational, we are in fact very irrational decision makers. Having seen Dan Ariely speak in the past, I was thrilled to hear he would be in town promoting his latest book, The Upside of Irrationality.

In his latest book he covers a number of his research findings including why large bonuses make CEO’s less productive — the assumption being that “they will be motivated to work and perform at very high levels.” Turns out this is not accurate, and the increased performance requirements and stress that are tied to these bonuses actually produces poor results.

I had to ask Ariely if Irrationality is different across nations … more specifically whether Canadians are more rational than our American counterparts. Turns out, its not the case. “Culture adds a layer that takes perspectives out of moral domains” says Ariely. Stating an example of how people will cheat “just a little bit” when they know they won’t get caught. “We did the same tests in China, Israel and the United states and the results are consistent, despite cultural differences.

Ariely’s approach to including his own life experiences and inquisitiveness make for a highly fascinating and entertaining read.

– Craig Lund, a director with the staffing firm Marketers on Demand, can be reached at craig.lund@marketersondemand.com

 
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