Richard H. Thaler has spent his career studying the radical notion that the central agents in the economy are humans - predictable, error-prone individuals. Misbehaving is his arresting, frequently hilarious account of the struggle to bring an academic discipline back down to earth - and change the way we think about economics, ourselves, and our world.
Traditional economics assumes rational actors. Early in his research, Thaler realized these Spock-like automatons were nothing like real people. Whether buying a clock radio, selling basketball tickets, or applying for a mortgage, we all succumb to biases and make decisions that deviate from the standards of rationality assumed by economists. In other words we misbehave. More importantly, our misbehavior has serious consequences. Dismissed at first by economists as an amusing sideshow, the study of human miscalculations and their effects on markets now drives efforts to make better decisions in our lives, our businesses, and our governments.
Coupling recent discoveries in human psychology with a practical understanding of incentives and market behavior, Thaler enlightens listeners about how to make smarter decisions in an increasingly mystifying world. He reveals how behavioral economic analysis opens up new ways to look at everything from household finance to assigning faculty offices in a new building, to TV game shows, the NFL draft, and businesses like Uber.
Laced with antic stories of Thaler's spirited battles with the bastions of traditional economic thinking, Misbehaving is a singular look into profound human foibles. When economics meets psychology, the implications for individuals, managers, and policy makers are both profound and entertaining.
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Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Tim W on 03-05-16
I thoroughly enjoyed Misbehaving.
As other reviewers suggest it is quite autobiographical in tone so expect plenty of personal anecdotes from the author's life, rather than a straight-up discussion of the subject matter.
For me, this works really well. It allows you to get a real insight into the difficulties of trying to push a new way of thinking (behavioral economics) into an established field (traditional economics).
Misbehaving is, as the subtitle states, about the story of how this new field, behavioral economics came about, rather than just a direct explanation of what behavioral economics is. Although it does a fine job of explaining this too.
As a sidenote: I found one of the later chapters about the author's work for the UK government especially interesting, as a Brit myself.
Plus the naration was excellent.
11 of 11 people found this review helpful
By Judy Corstjens on 27-01-16
Behavioural Economics in Perspective
I've read a lot of behavioural economics books, but this one has a genuinely different perspective. Although it does present many of the standard ideas of behavioural economics, (how we contradict ourselves by wanting inconsistent things, or make systematic errors in our perceptions and decisions etc. and it does this very well) the book's overall theme is behavioural economics itself. It explains how BE impacts on classical economics, and how difficult and challenging it is for classically trained economists to adjust to what is genuinely a paradigm shift. Thaler draws out the importance of these shifts - before I had seen BE as a set of quirky anomalies and wrinkles but Thaler argues that humans, not 'econs', have to be put at the heart of economics, and that this calls for a fundamental reassessment of the subject. Thaler's style is personal (the book is written largely as a memoir) and sometimes it gets a touch self indulgent (the reorganisation of the economics department's offices), but Thaler's humorous tone and wit often carry this off. I loved the concept of the 'invisible hand wave'.
Narration: perfect, Ganser sounds like a sympathetic American economics professor.
17 of 18 people found this review helpful
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Barrie Bramley on 04-10-15
I'm a lot smarter than I was before
Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?
I loved this book. I'm no economist. Didn't study it, don't really understand the technical detail to it, but I loved the interaction and story of what happens when human beings are considered in Economics instead of 'Econs'. This book was a great story of how the behavioural filter was introduced to Economics.
What was one of the most memorable moments of Misbehaving?
His story of speaking at a conference to 23 MD's about decision making. Such a powerful story of how people make decisions depending on where they're standing.
What about L. J. Ganser’s performance did you like?
He did a great job fitting into the book. He could have been the author. He felt / sounded like the author.
Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?
No. I could never have. There was way too much for me to consider, ponder and process for one sitting.
Any additional comments?
Fab book. I found it after listening to 'Think like a Freak' Was a great choice to follow up on. I'm moving on to 'Influence' based on it's recommendation in this book.
48 of 50 people found this review helpful
By Jay Friedman on 30-09-15
Great book if it's your first about Behav. Econ
This might be slightly unfair, but I couldn't get into this book because I've essentially heard/read all this before. If you're familiar with the Freakonomics series, Influence, or any of the many other B.E. books, you simply won't find anything new in here. On the other hand, if you're brand new to B.E., this would be a really great starter book. However, as comprehensive as it is, it's nowhere near as entertaining as the Freakonomics series or Influence. I even liked "secrets of the money lab" better.
142 of 152 people found this review helpful