What’s behavioral economics? “Ask Ariely” and the Nobel reading group

Posted on May 15th, 2016 by

Students share the key biases they see in Ariely's columns that affect our decisions-- for better or worse!

Students share the key biases they see in Ariely’s columns that affect our decisions– for better or worse!

In preparation for Nobel 2016, In Search of Economic Balance, students and faculty have formed reading groups to get familiar with each speaker’s work in a fun and relaxed environment. The Dan Ariely group has been studying his latest book, Irrationally Yours, which is a compilation of columns from his wildly popular Wall Street Journal column “Ask Ariely.”

From Ariely’s website:

Behavioral economist Dan Ariely revolutionized the way we think about ourselves, our minds, and our actions in his books Predictably Irrational, The Upside of Irrationality, and The Honest Truth about Dishonesty. Ariely applies this scientific analysis of the human condition in his “Ask Ariely” Q & A column in the Wall Street Journal, in which he responds to readers who write in with personal conundrums ranging from the serious to the curious:

  • What can you do to stay calm when you’re playing the volatile stock market?
  • What’s the best way to get someone to stop smoking?
  • How can you maximize the return on your investment at an all-you-can-eat buffet?
  • Is it possible to put a price on the human soul?
  • Can you ever rationally justify spending thousands of dollars on a Rolex?

Ariely’s column and all of his books help non-economists—yeah, that’s you and me– understand decision dilemmas that we all encounter in daily life. Students in the reading group frequently comment on how much they can relate to what he is writing about, from dating to money management to health and fitness decisions. WHY do we do what we do? Ariely can tell us!

The group’s summer reading will be The Honest Truth about Dishonesty, where Ariely explains–kind of uncomfortably– why we persist in lying when we don’t have to and when we are sure to get busted.


Some of the reading group members-- Lydia, Melissa, Sam, Anders and Kimmie

Some of the reading group members– Lydia, Melissa, Sam, Anders and Kimmie


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