Evolutionary Roots of Irrationality

Standard economic theory assumes that humans behave fully rationally and are able to objectively calculate the value (or cost) of the different choices they are presented with. In fact, we pride ourselves on our rationality. Different from the animals, we humans have the unique capacity for logical thought and rational decision making. Or do we?

According to behavioral economist Dan Ariely, we should be less proud of ourselves. In his entertaining book Predictably Irrational, Ariely describes many case studies of every-day irrational human behavior. His simple but clever scientific experiments often require nothing more than a box of chocolates. However, subtle differences in the way these chocolates are offered to people can cause large and completely irrational differences in the way we behave. Moreover, these irrational behaviors fly square in the face of what conventional economic theory, based on rationality, would predict.

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