Sway

Last weekend I read the book "Sway: The Irresistible Pull of Irrational Behavior" by Ori and Rom Brafman (2008) for a book club I participate in. 

The book explores several of the psychological forces that derail rational thinking and cause irrational behavior in human beings. Across different countries and cultures, different people are being swayed in similar ways. We are all susceptible to the sway of irrational behaviors.

The common causes of irrational behavior mentioned in the book are: loss aversion, commitment, value attribution, overly confident in our abilities and overly optimistic about the future, label people, fairness,  the monetary incentives (self-interest) vs. the altruistic motivation (other interest), peer pressure in group dynamic, etc.

Sometimes we make irrational decision to avoid a potential loss, to keep our commitment and stay the course, or just to be fair in the process. 

Sometimes we behave irrationally based on the value we attribute to people or things, or how we are labeled by others, or because we are under peer pressure and don’t want to be the dissenters in a group setting. 

Or we act in a stupid way because we think we are better or smarter than others. 

In recent years we have seen plenty of irrational behavior in politics, in finance and entertainment sectors. When media reveal some shocking news. We often ask the same question: "How could this individual who is really smart be so stupid and do things like this?" 

I guess one explanation according to this book is they are overly confident in their abilities to keep things in secret and they probably think: "I am above everyone else. I will never get caught." 

We are all being swayed and make irrational decisions, more or less. As we become aware of the forces that could derail rational thinking, hopefully we can behave less irrational.

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