Dan Ariely, whose team was awarded the 2008 Ig Nobel Prize in medicine,* is offering an online course — free for everyone — about irrational behavior. Dan is the James B. Duke Professor of Psychology and Behavioral Economics at Duke University and a founding member of the Center for Advanced Hindsight.
You make decisions all the time…. Some of these decisions might be great, while others … not so much. For example, take the mind-boggling case of someone winning a chess championship one minute and texting while driving the next. Playing chess (competently, at least) requires thinking many steps ahead, considering multiple scenarios and outcomes — whereas texting while driving is a complete and utter failure of the same kind of forward-thinking. The gap between how amazing we are in some respects and completely inept in others just highlights the invaluable nature of studying how humans think and interact with the world.
So, when do we make good decisions, and when and why do we fail? Fortunately, behavioral economics does have some answers. In “A Beginner’s Guide to Irrational Behavior,” you will learn about some of the many ways in which we behave in less than rational ways, and how we might overcome some of our shortcomings.
* That Ig Nobel Prize was given to Dan Ariely, Rebecca L. Waber, Baba Shiv, and Ziv Carmon for demonstrating that high-priced fake medicine is more effective than low-priced fake medicine. [REFERENCE: "Commercial Features of Placebo and Therapeutic Efficacy," Journal of the American Medical Association, March 5, 2008; 299: 1016-1017.]