Thursday, January 28, 2016

What are behavioral economists up to?

This is the real goal of behavioral economics: to try to understand the way we really operate so that we can more readily observe our biases, be more aware of their influences on us, and hopefully make better decisions. Although I can't imagine that we will ever become perfect decision makers, I do believe that an improved understanding of the multiple irrational forces that influence us could be a useful first step toward making better decisions. And we don't have to stop there. Inventors, companies, and policy makers can take the additional steps to redesign our working and living environments in ways that are naturally more compatible with what we can and cannot do.
In the end, this is what behavioral economics is about—figuring out the hidden forces that shape our decisions, across many different domains, and finding solutions to common problems that affect our personal, business, and public lives.
Dan Ariely, The Updside of Irrationality: The Unexpected Benefits of Defying Logic at Work and at Home (New York: HarperCollins, 2010), pp. 9-10.

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