Any book that seems to predict your behaviour is both intriguing and, let's face it, a bit scary. I started this book with a measure of cynicism - everyone seems to be cashing in on the self-help style book these days. Well, I don't mind eating some humble pie - I was wrong.
To start, this isn't a self-help book. It's a study of human nature. But that's not to say it doesn't offer some advice on how we can combat these 'hidden forces'. Each chapter covers an area of our 'predictable irrationality' and Ariely uses straightforward experiments to support his theories. For example, let me tell you one part of the book that applied to me.
I used to pick up a coffee on the way to work two or three times a week for about £1.20. It was decent enough coffee and a nice treat. One day I passed by my local Cafe Nero. I bought a cup for £2.15. It's a bigger cup, much nicer coffee. Next time I pass I'm buy it again. Soon I'm buying it five days a week because that's become normal. I don't even think about it - it's as habitual as my three meals a day.
Then I read this book and to tell the truth I felt slightly sick when I read the part of the book where Ariely describes exactly this type of scenario. I sat back and thought, "I've gone from spending £2.40 a week to £10.75". I went cold turkey and stopped my daily coffee!
It's a bit of a waffly point I know but what I'm trying to highlight is that Ariely's book holds up a mirror. Think you're above irrationality? Think again. I have a friend who has now bought the book and half way through she admits to being as freaked out as me.
It's well written, not too wordy, not condescending, funny in parts and I should imagine most people would be able to identify with some parts. The downside? Ariely offers some ways to rise above this 'predictable irrationality' but by the end of the book I almost felt like there was a sort of resigned 'well, we can try but we are who we are' feel. However, let's be fair, Ariely is one man and one man can only do so much.
An excellent book and one I would certainly recommend but don't be surprised if it makes you look a little harder at yourself. But you never know - it might save you the £8 a week it's now saving me, so it's got to be worth it!