Sway: The Irresistible Pull of Irrational Behavior


Sway: The Irresistible Pull of Irrational Behavior by the brothers Ori and Rom Brafman tries to describe and explain why we all make irrational or poor decisions because of a number of hidden currents or tendencies that “sway” our judgement such as:

  • Loss aversion – our tendency to go at great lengths to avoid possible losses
  • Commitment – the difficulty of letting go due to prior commitment or of the past even though the project is clearly failing or not working
  • Value attribution – our inclination to imbue a person or thing certain qualities based on initial perceived value
  • Diagnosis bias – our blindness to ignore all evidence that contradicts our initial assessment of a person or situation
  • Fairness – our deep-rooted desire for fair play
  • Group conformity – our need to fit with a group, especially if there is no other opposing or alternative opinions

It is a fairly short, but interesting read, with a wide number of interesting real life examples and controlled experiments to offer proof.  In the epilogue, the authors offers some advise in dealing with this irresistible pull of irrational behavior.

If you like Malcolm Gladwell’s Blink and The Tipping Point, you will also enjoy this book.  Highly recommended.

Finally, I wonder how different or similar Dan Ariely’s book on the same subject titled Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions?  Both books were published in 2008, a few months apart.  Interesting …


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