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Sway

The Irresistible Pull of Irrational Behavior

By Ori Brafman
15-minute read
Sway: The Irresistible Pull of Irrational Behavior by Ori Brafman

Sway sheds some light on the mysterious forces that cause humans – usually rational and logical – to behave strangely or act without thinking. In short, the book explains why we often act irrationally.

  • Anyone interested in behavioral psychology
  • Anyone who has ever wondered about the science behind irrational behavior

Ori Brafman is a renowned organizational expert and regular consultant with Fortune 500 corporations. Rom Brafman is an award-winning teacher. Originally from Israel, the two brothers are now based in California.  

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Sway

The Irresistible Pull of Irrational Behavior

By Ori Brafman
  • Read in 15 minutes
  • Contains 9 key ideas
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Sway: The Irresistible Pull of Irrational Behavior by Ori Brafman
Synopsis

Sway sheds some light on the mysterious forces that cause humans – usually rational and logical – to behave strangely or act without thinking. In short, the book explains why we often act irrationally.

Key idea 1 of 9

Nobody likes to lose; so to avoid a feeling of loss, we often act irrationally.

We like to think of ourselves as logical, rational beings. Yet the truth is that all humans behave irrationally. Even experts, such as airplane pilots and surgeons, can make grave mistakes.

But what motivates us to act irrationally?

In short, nobody likes to lose. Our fear of loss, or loss aversion, is one of the hidden forces that drives irrational behavior.

Interestingly, the pain of loss is a much stronger feeling than the joy of winning; so when faced with the prospect of losing, we will do anything we can to avoid it.

Our sensitivity to changes in the price of an item illustrates this crisis. As an increase in price feels like a loss, we react to this much more intensely than we do a decrease in price.

U.S. Department of Agriculture professor Daniel Putler studied egg sales to see how people reacted to price increases and decreases. He found that when prices decreased, people only slightly increased the number of eggs they purchased. However, when prices rose, people cut their consumption of eggs by two and a half times.

Since a price increase feels like we’re losing money, we react disproportionately strongly to the change.

Putler’s study shows how we often rush to make sacrifices just to avoid loss. Sometimes, we’re even willing to pay more to prevent a loss.

If you’ve ever rented a car, then you’ve experienced this firsthand. Rental car damage waivers can be expensive and are in fact useless, as your own car insurance and credit card offer sufficient protections should an accident actually occur.

Yet the fear of loss makes you reconsider whether you are safe enough, and may well encourage you to sign up for the coverage regardless – a product designed specifically to take advantage of customers’ irrational assumptions!

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