Misbehaving: The Making of Behavioral Economics

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9780393080940: Misbehaving: The Making of Behavioral Economics
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Shortlisted for the Financial Times & McKinsey Business Book of the Year Award.

Get ready to change the way you think about economics.

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 readers 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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About the Author:

Richard H. Thaler is the coauthor of the best-selling book Nudge with Cass R. Sunstein, and the author of Quasi Rational Economics and The Winner’s Curse. He is a professor of behavioral science and economics at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business and, in 2015, the president of the American Economic Association.

Review:

“A sly and somewhat subversive history of [the economics] profession...engrossing and highly relevant.”
- Jonathan A. Knee, The New York Times

“Highly enjoyable...dense with fascinating examples.... It is long past time to replace Econs with Humans, both in theory and in the practice of prediction.”
- Carol Tavris, Wall Street Journal

“In Misbehaving, [Thaler] offers a dryly humorous history of the revolution he helped ignite, as well as a useful (if sometimes challenging) primer on its key concepts.”
- Julia M. Klein, Chicago Tribune

“[A] masterful, readable account of behavioral economics. Very well done.”
- David Wessel, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, author of Red Ink and Ben Bernanke’s War on the Great Panic

“[Misbehaving] is bound to become a classic. Now established as one of the great figures in the history of economic thought, Thaler has no predecessors. A rebel with a cause...[w]here he wins Olympic gold is in keen observation; his greatest insights come from actually looking.”
- Cass Sunstein, New Rambler

“Entertaining.... An excellent read on the shortcomings of classical economic and finance theory.”
- Ronald L. Moy, CFA Institute

“The creative genius who invented the field of behavioral economics is also a master storyteller and a very funny man. All these talents are on display in this wonderful book.”
- Daniel Kahneman, winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics and author of Thinking, Fast and Slow

Misbehaving gives us the story behind some of the most important insights in modern economics. If I had to be trapped in an elevator with any contemporary intellectual, I’d pick Richard Thaler.”
- Malcolm Gladwell

“Richard Thaler has been at the center of the most important revolution to happen in economics in the last thirty years. In this captivating book, he lays out the evidence for behavioral economics and explains why there was so much resistance to it. Read Misbehaving. There is no better guide to this new and exciting economics.”
- Robert J. Shiller, winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics and author of Finance and the Good Society

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