Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Sway, by Ori and Rom Brafman

Sway: The Irresistible Pull of Irrational Behavior, by Ori and Rom Brafman

At times, we act all irrationally. Sometimes we hold on to a crashing stock hoping it will regain its value, or stay in a bad relationship because it is easier than saying, “Good bye.” The authors examine why we ignore logic and rely more on instinct when making decisions. This isn’t a study on bipolar disorder or addictive behaviors, but instead on how a normal individual’s view on the world and society affects the way he thinks.

One of the most interesting sections deal with labels. Simple words when applied to something or someone can dramatically affect how it is viewed: labels cause us to take mental shortcuts. A great example is found in sports (well, basketball anyway): low draft picks in the NBA consistently play fewer minutes that higher ones regardless of the level of their play. “Score points, catch a lot of rebounds, block shots, and make steals, and it still won’t affect your playing time as much as your draft order does, even years down the road.” Other well researched anecdotes show this phenomenon applies to virtually everything. I suppose that explains why Titanic was so popular...

Another interesting section was a discussion about which areas of our mind can operate in parallel and which can’t. “Unlike, say, the parts of our brain that control movement and speech, the pleasure center and the altruism center cannot both function at the same time: either one or the other is in control.” So, we can be selfish or charitable, but not both at the same time. Interesting.

This book reminded me of Predicably Irrational, although I liked it more. Initial observation affects later behavior, and even knowing this fact doesn’t alter anything. Easy to read and not overly long, this makes a good book for an afternoon of relaxation.

First Sentence:
The passengers aboard KLM Flight 4805 didn’t know it, but they were in the hands of one of the most experienced and accomplished pilots in the world.

No comments:

Search This Blog