Sway: The Irresistible Pull of Irrational Behavior by Ori Brafman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
The authors main premise is that we as humans are fundamentally flawed in our abilities to make rational decisions due to various factors in our upbringing and values systems.
Take for example the story about Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? In America individuals generally admire the wealthy, and as a result when a contestant on the show uses the Ask the Audience life-line the audience gives the correct answer more than 90% of the time. Russians are suspicious of the wealthy as they believe that they have gotten rich at the expense of the many. This was based on the experiences just after the fall of communism in the early 90’s. Subsequently, very, very rarely does the audience in the Russian version of the show ever give the correct answer. In-fact is seems like the audience purposefully gives the wrong answer, just to screw with the contestants. Different value systems, different responses.
Each chapter goes through a different factor that sways us from rational decision making, culminating in an ending that recommends.
The book is very light and airy, not delving too deeply into any one topic, and not really providing too much statistical information from the various studies reviewed by the authors. For this reason I think the book was a great primer on the topic of irrational behavior. Those seeking a greater understanding of why the human mind makes decisions the way it does, would be better served by finding a more technical book on the topic.
Those who enjoy books by Malcolm Gladwell and the Freakonomics-esque will definitely enjoy Sway.