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Audible Editor Reviews

Editors Select, May 2015 - With the backing of two Nobel Prize winners in the field of Economics and a ringing endorsement from Malcolm Gladwell, who said, 'If I had to be trapped in an elevator with any contemporary intellectual, I'd pick Richard Thaler,' I knew Misbehaving would be an enlightening listen. But it was also entertaining in the way that a great college class can be, with the professor using real-life scenarios and his own biography to color his points. In Misbehaving, Thaler argues against the traditional economic thinking that humans are 'homo economicus' – rational decision makers programmed to act in their best interests – and asserts, instead, that our consistent deviation from these assumed standards reveals new ways to think about the world.

Publisher's Summary

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 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.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your Library section along with the audio.

©2015 Richard H. Thaler (P)2015 Audible, Inc.

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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interesting story

the book has a very interesting story to tell about how humans really behave and make economic decisions. pretty interesting

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Amazing book!

Thaler is my new favorite person. This book was excellent for anyone who is interested in how economics and psychology mix.

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  • Barrie Bramley
  • South Africa
  • 2015-10-04

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.

53 of 55 people found this review helpful

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  • Jay Friedman
  • Dallas, TX United States
  • 2015-09-30

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.

150 of 160 people found this review helpful

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  • S. Yates
  • 2016-10-01

Excellent, informative, and practical

Any additional comments?

Insightful, humorous, and eye-opening book on behavioral economics. In line with a handful of other books in a similar vein -- basically, that humans are not particularly rational and that some of the mental shortcuts we take that behooved us as we evolved do not necessarily assist us in modern decision-making -- that turn the mirror on human behavior and help a reader understand their own irrational decisions. Thaler has a wonderful sense of humor and a keen eye for human fallacies. His curiosity (like that of Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky) about human behavior and his background in economics pair up nicely and allowed him to examine generally agreed upon economic and financial beliefs and question them. He points out a number of examples of irrationality, and various heuristics and biases, that might be familiar to readers who have read some other books in related fields (including Thinking, Fast and Slow; and Superforecasting), but Thaler's book is still an excellent read and much of his findings dovetail with those of Kahneman and Tversky (he worked with them both) and are all the more interesting as you understand that all of these findings were coming about contemporaneously and upending the economic world.

Definitely recommended, if for no other reason than to understand yourself and your decision making processes better, but also for the insight into how much framing an option can do to impact how people feel about it and consequently whether or not they take one action versus another.

8 of 8 people found this review helpful

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  • Adi
  • 2015-12-06

Tough to follow way without the grpahs

Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

Tough to follow without the bar charts and graphs that are repeatedly referenced in the audio.

Not the best content for an audio book

46 of 51 people found this review helpful

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  • cokilx
  • 2018-04-11

Too much boring details about his career

What would have made Misbehaving better?

Cutting 70% of the content from the book.

Would you ever listen to anything by Richard Thaler again?

Probably not. Not interested in listening to people's laundry lists.

Any additional comments?

The theories are interesting. However, he puts way too many details about his career and all the "important" events, summer camps, and endless names of "important" people.
It is very hard to follow when he spends hours talking how they organized events and summer camps together. It is not even a memoir, it is more like a laundry list of things that came up to his mind.
It is ironic that at the beginning of the book, he said he would not write about anything that is boring and 70% of the book turned out to be super boring and irrelevant.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • Mark
  • Raglan, New Zealand
  • 2017-06-19

I am not an Econ ...

I’m struggling lately to find good popular science books. It can’t be true, but it feels like I’ve read all the best ones and now I’m starting to scrape the bottom of the barrel. I chose this book not because I was fascinated by the subject, but because it had been well reviewed by listeners.

The book is a combination of the author’s life’s story and the parallel narrative of the evolution of behavioural economics. Please forgive me if you already know this, but before behavioural economics it was assumed that people (at least on average) behaved in predictable, rational ways when making economic choices. The name for these rational economic beings is ‘Econs’.

This author was one of the originators of the idea that, in fact, real people do not behave in this way. There are lots of situations where people make irrational choices, based on the fact that we are human beings with emotions, weaknesses and foibles. The traditional economists objected that these deviants were exceptions and that, overall, rational economic behaviour dominates, but as the field of behavioural economics has become more respectable, it is becoming more and more apparent that it is a key factor in explaining real economic behaviour.

This book provides numerous examples of this economic 'misbehaving': If you buy expensive shoes you keep on wearing them even though they give you blisters – this is called ‘sunk costs’ – a true Econ would just accept the loss and move on. It is this same theory which is often given to explain why the US persevered with the Vietnam War once it was obvious that it could not be won: too much money and too many lives had been expended to just walk away, and yet this would have been the rational thing to do.

In another example, people who win at the casino aren’t as careful as they would be with money out of their own pocket. This is because they are playing with ‘House money’ and it is called the ‘endowment effect’. A true Econ would be just as careful with this money.

The book looks at a wide range of situations where similar behaviours impact on economic choices. I got a bit lost on many occasions, either because it wasn’t particularly interesting, or because it was quite mathematical, or because it kept referring to a pdf which is hard to access when driving a car or riding a bicycle. But there was enough in it to make it enlightening – just, and the narrator was good.

13 of 15 people found this review helpful

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  • Dolores
  • 2015-05-31

A Wiinner: A Case for Misbehaving

This was fabulous. I couldn't put it down. The thread of an academic career will stimulate many students and young professors to find a passion and build on it. The practical sense of the behavioral problems discussed was fantastic. I will look for the problems in my own field to brainstorm solutions from a behavioral point of view. This was fun to read as well as inspiring. Dolores Pretorius, MD, Professor of Radiology, Univ of Calif, San Diego

15 of 18 people found this review helpful

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  • Pam
  • United States
  • 2015-06-03

Entertaining story of the life of a scientist

I'd recommend this book to anyone who is curious about life as a scientist. The actual science of behavioral economics is interesting enough if you want to learn more about it, but the author really shines when he describes how he came up with some of his research projects, and how he was able to collaborate with good people and secure funding for his work (which isn't easy!). Thaler makes his life story both informative and funny. This book should be required reading for anyone who wants to be a scientist, regardless of discipline.

10 of 12 people found this review helpful

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  • Trenton
  • Texas, Alaska United States
  • 2018-01-22

More of a story about a researcher.....

The author decided that the book would be more interesting apparently if he told you about his life as a researcher, peppering in little tidbits of information here and there about what they were studying at any given time in his career and occasionally what it means. He spends less time dummying it down than he does telling you that he traveled to this place, with his researcher and this is how it went when they presented their findings.

I could have done with zero talk about his career and his life, and only talk about economics, rife with examples from the real world, illustrations, expanding concepts, making them more palatable.

The life of a professor and how he goes about researching just isn't really what I was looking for.

The narration is good. There are little tidbits of interesting info here and there. For the length of the book though, the good parts aren't nearly as regular as they should be.

9 of 11 people found this review helpful

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  • Guacamole
  • 2018-02-27

Boring and uninspired

Very repetitive and not particularly insightful. Feels like was intended for low intelligence audience. Did not translate well into an audio-book.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful