Misbehaving: The Making of Behavioral Economics Audio CD – CD, Unabridged, Audiobook, 14 June 2016
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- Language : English
- ISBN-10 : 1501238701
- ISBN-13 : 978-1501238703
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About the Author
Richard H. Thaler is the coauthor of the bestselling 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.
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Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
I won't summarize the wealth of evidence presented (with clarity and grace) in the book. Rather, I will make five general points that will suffice, I think, to entice the undecided reader to take up this good book.
1. This is Kuhnian book. It tells a story of a paradigm shift in the field of economics, from the initial hostility to the reticent acceptance and later to the widespread celebration of behavioral economics (more than ten of its main exponents have been awarded with the Nobel prize).
2. Behavioral economics is already making a dent in public policy. In England and elsewhere, policy makers have embraced some of its prescriptions to tackle various social problems, ranging from obesity to tax evasion. There is a perverse side of behavioral economics though. There are good nudges and bad nudges. Thaler himself sometimes sounds as an expert and unrepentant manipulator (see chapter 13 for example).
3. Economists can no longer ignore the (empirical) relevance of a set of behavioral ideas: loss aversion, the endowment effect, mental accounting, hyperbolic discounting, fairness preferences and narrow framing. "Humans do not have the brains of Einstein (or Barro), nor do they have the self-control of an ascetic Buddhist monk. Rather, they have passions, faulty telescopes, treat various pots of wealth quite differently, and can be influenced by short-run returns in the stock market."
4. William Baumol's early critique of behavioral economics in the sense that it should move beyond the discovery of anomalies to a more constructive agenda is still relevant. Some parts of the book are just anomaly-mining followed by ex post theorizing.
5. While reading the book, I often remembered a famous dictum by novelist (and also Nobel laurate) Elias Canetti: "there aren't the most profound ideas which have often the greatest influence." This book shows that simple ideas can indeed be quite influential.
The book affords a close-up look (a firsthand account) at the exploration throughout the entire professional career of an illustrious economist. The subject is the role of human psychology in the decision making process. His experiments and observations bring into question some very basic assumptions and hypotheses in classic economics, such as rationality in consumer choices and efficient markets.
The detailed discussion of economic issues is sometimes rather academic/technical. It helps if the reader comes with a basic understanding of principles and methods in the study of economics (which I do not possess). In any case, the account of the tense academic debates surrounding the subject is quite fascinating to read. Towards the end of the book, the author also provides useful insights on the implications of behavioural considerations for public policy.
In all, this is a highly recommended book that should provide an engrossing read.