Married; wife's name Sumi; children: Amit, Neta. Education: Tel Aviv University, B.A, 1991; University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, M.A., 1994, Ph.D. (cognitive psychology), 1996; Duke University, Fuqua School of Business, Ph.D. (business administration), 1998.
Office—Duke University, Fuqua School of Business, 1 Towerview Dr., Durham, NC 27708; Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 20 Ames St., E15-317, Cambridge, MA 02142. E-mail—[email protected]ablyirrational.com; [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]
Writer, educator. Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA, Sloan School of Management, Alfred P. Sloan professor of behavioral economics, 1998—, Media Laboratory, principal investigator, 1998—, Center for Advanced Hindsight and eRationality Research Group, director; University of California at Berkeley, instructor, 2001-02; Stanford University, Palo Alto, CA, Center for Advanced Studies in the Behavioral Sciences, researcher, 2004; Princeton University, Princeton, NJ, Institute for Advanced Study, 2005-07; Duke University, Durham, NC, Fuqua School of Business and the Center for Cognitive Neuroscience, James B. Duke professor of behavioral economics, 2007—.
L.L. Thurstone Psychometric Laboratory Graduate Student Award, 1995-96; John A. Howard Doctoral Dissertation Award, American Marketing Association, 1998; Hillel Einhorn New Investigator Award, Judgment and Decision Making Society, 2000; Best Paper Award, Marketing Science Institute, 2001; Early Career Contribution Award, Society for Consumer Psychology, 2003.
(With Christine Hughes and David Eckerman) The Joy of Experimental Psychology, Kendall/Hunt (New York, NY), 1998.
Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions, Harper (New York, NY), 2008.
Contributor of numerous articles to journals and chapters to scholarly works. Also author of the blog Predictably Irrational.
Behavioral economist Dan Ariely researches human consumption patterns. With doctorates in both cognitive psychology and business administration, he attempts to understand what makes consumers tick; in particular, he has found new relevance in the irrationality that commands much of consumers' decision making. Writing on his Web site, Predictably Irrational, Ariely explained that his "immersive introduction to irrationality took place … in the burn department," where treatments "made [him] face a variety of irrational behaviors that were immensely painful and persistent." He later conducted research on "how to better deliver painful and unavoidable treatments to patients." Ariely next "became engrossed with the idea that we repeatedly and predictably make the wrong decisions in many aspects of our lives and that research could help change some of these patterns." When he used what he had learned to help convince his wife to marry him, Ariely felt that he was onto something unique. He compiled his findings in behavioral economics in a nonacademic book, Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions, which Elizabeth Kolbert termed "a taxonomy of financial folly" in a New Yorker review.
Kolbert went on to explain the underlying premise of Ariely's book: "Rational calculators are supposed to consider their options, then pick the one that maximizes the benefit to them. Yet actual economic life, as opposed to the theoretical version, is full of miscalculations, from the gallon jar of mayonnaise purchased at spectacular savings to the billions of dollars Americans will spend this year to service their credit-card debt. The real mystery, it could be argued, isn't why we make so many poor economic choices but why we persist in accepting economic theory." In Predictably Irrational, Ariely presents experiments he has conducted to demonstrate a sort of cosmic logic to our illogical actions. Some of his experiments may sound rather unorthodox, as when he offered trick-or-treaters irrational options one Halloween to demonstrate the power that the word "free" has on consumers. In another experiment, he demonstrated how the mere fact of participants writing down the last two digits of their Social Security numbers influenced how they subsequently bid on items: participants with low numbers tended to bid the lowest, while those with high final numbers on the Social Security card were the highest bidders. Writing in the New York Times Book Review, David Berreby noted, "These sorts of rigorous but goofy-sounding experiments lend themselves to a genial, gee-whiz style, with which Ariely moves comfortably from the lab to broad social questions to his own life." As Ariely notes in his book, "Our irrational behaviors are neither random nor senseless—they are systematic." Ariely further remarks, "We all make the same types of mistakes over and over." In his work, Ariely challenges commonly held beliefs about economics, dismisses that price is determined by supply and demand, and contends that over and over consumers act against their own self-interest.
In a review for USA Today, Russ Juskalian commented, Predictably Irrational "may be easy to read, but not everything Ariely writes about should be dismissed with a chuckle about how foolish we are." Similarly, a Publishers Weekly reviewer observed, "Ariely's intelligent, exuberant style and thought-provoking arguments make for a fascinating, eye-opening read," while Entertainment Weekly contributor Kate Ward commented, "Ariely's book addresses some weighty issues … with an unexpected dash of humor."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
All Things Considered, February 21, 2008, Robert Siegel, "Dissecting People's ‘Predictably Irrational’ Behavior," interview with Dan Ariely.
CIO, May 1, 2003, Meridith Levinson, "Why Good CIOs Make Bad Decisions," p. 82.
Entertainment Weekly, February 22, 2008, Kate Ward, review of Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions, p. 101.
IIE Solutions, March, 2002, "Don't-Miss Deadlines," p. 66.
Money, April, 2008, Paul J. Lim, "Does This Man Look Rational?," p. 28.
National Post, February 23, 2008, Joseph Brean, "Irrationality Is Human: Anti-economist Dan Ariely Says People Act in Predictably Foolish Ways," p. A10.
New Yorker, February 25, 2008, Elizabeth Kolbert, "What Was I Thinking?," p. 77.
New York Times Book Review, March 16, 2008, David Berreby, review of Predictably Irrational, p. 21.
Publishers Weekly, November 5, 2007, review of Predictably Irrational, p. 55.
USA Today, February 25, 2008, Russ Juskalian, "Not as Rational as We Think We Are," p. 13B.
Duke University Fuqua School of Business Web site,http://www.fuqua.duke.edu/ (June 30, 2008), faculty profile.
MIT Media Lab Web site,http://www.media.mit.edu/ (June 30, 2008), faculty profile.
MIT Web site,http://web.mit.edu/ (June 30, 2008), faculty profile of Dan Ariely.
Predictably Irrational Web site,http://www.predictablyirrational.com (June 30, 2009).
Speakers.ca,http://www.speakers.ca/ (June 30, 2008), author profile.