Laws Irrationality Stuart Sutherland Pdf


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Why ought to be this publication Irrationality: The Enemy Within By Stuart Sutherland to review? You will never obtain the expertise and also experience without. Buy Irrationality: The Enemy Within on ✓ FREE SHIPPING on qualified orders. Download Citation on ResearchGate | Irrationality: The Enemy Within. By Stuart Sutherland. London: Constable. pp. £ | Irrationality: The Enemy .

Irrationality Stuart Sutherland Pdf

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Irrationality and enemy within. Stuart Sutherland. Full text views reflects the number of PDF downloads, PDFs sent to Google Drive, Dropbox. Irrationality - Free download as Word Doc .doc), PDF File .pdf), Text File .txt) or read online for free. In fact, Stuart Sutherland managed to write an entire. Irrational beliefs and behaviours are virtually universal. In this iconoclastic book Stuart Sutherland analyses causes of irrationality and examines why we are.

Sutherland shows when and why we fall foul of human capacity for unreason, each summarised with a semi-serious, semi-facetious 'moral' the advice ranges from entirely reasonable to absurd. The book covers, roughly, two groups of interrelated phenomena: This knowledge is applicable to day to day behaviours as much as to big life decisions and serious social problems.

Why do essentially good people agree to apply highly painful electric shocks to others?

In fact, Stuart Sutherland managed to write an entire

Why do people believe in homeopathy and UFOs? How do we decide which car to buy and which person to trust? Are human beings good at objectively gathering and considering evidence? And how can we improve? I have to admit to being a psychologist by education, so the vast majority but not all of the content of Irrationality was not new to me, but Sutherland did a good job of presenting the most significant phenomena in one lucid, concise and well written volume accessible to non-specialists but substantiated by descriptions of actual experiments and not just their conclusions and well referenced too.

His language is elegant and understated. It's not a book delivered in a modern street-smart colloquial but in a highly literate, cultured voice: He doesn't use specialist jargon, though, and the book should be accessible to any educated lay reader, although descriptions of some experimental set-ups were necessarily rather convoluted.

The parts of Irrationality in which Sutherland engages in philosophical speculation and moral musings are infused with a constant undercurrent of wry humour and often delightful exasperation. The weakest chapter is undoubtedly the one dealing with irrationalities in organisations: By assuming that using a purely economic calculus of costs and profits is the only rational way to run an organisation, he undermines his original assertion that there is no way to define a rational goal.

In fact, the use of a similar abstractly economical assumptions is the source of perhaps the most obvious controversies as to which of the described behaviours are truly irrational. I suspect many would not: Similarly, the insistence by a particular sub-group of workers on a wage that is lower in absolute terms but higher than a wage of their colleagues is only irrational if we assume that all that matters is the actual amount of money in the pocket: In those instances Irrationality reveals itself as very much a book of its time, when the neo-classical economics with its idea that money is an adequate and the only needed measure of everything was at its peak.

But these are just fairly minor niggles. Most of the material in Irrationality is truly riveting and most non-specialist readers will find a lot of fascinating and clearly presented material in Prof. Sutherland's book.

The last chapters attempt to explain the reasons for human irrationality and consider whether absolute rationality is actually even a desirable goal in itself. I have been a covert to the evolutionary psychology framework of thinking about human mental apparatus since the last years of my degree and thus all of this irrationality makes a rather perfect sense to me.

Our brains, and the basic wiring of our minds, are not designed. They evolved, and evolution is a rather messy process: In the case of individuals, people tend to distort their sense of reality in order to maintain irrational behavior and thoughts. In fact, studies have found that when teenage girls are asked to rate a series of albums and subsequently choose between two albums that they gave a similar rating, their opinion of the record chosen in the second half of the exercise was much higher than the one they chose it over.

This happens all the time in the stock market, where people feel an irrational need to keep an investment that has dropped in value and shows no signs of rising again. The clear rational choice in this scenario would be to hold on to the stock if it was beneficial and let go of it if not. So, these are ways individuals are affected by irrationality — but what about bigger groups?

Well, a common way that irrationality manifests in organizations is through structures that conflict with organizational goals.

In fact, organizational structures often encourage selfish behavior that benefits individuals at the expense of the whole. At investment banks, bonus payments tend to encourage bankers to place risky bets that could bring major profits and, therefore, large bonuses.

But bankers are rarely held accountable for bad bets they make on risky assets; it is the organization as a whole which has to bear the brunt of their mistakes. Another example can be seen with the financing of departments in an organization.

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The amount of money allocated to a given department is often based on how much they were given the year before, without any regard for how that money was spent. This type of policy encourages overspending, not organizational well-being.

Irrationality Key Idea 3: When and how we receive information is a major factor in our irrationality. Even so, the movie premiere of Jaws, a film about a man-eating shark, caused a sharp drop in sea swimmers in California.

The frightened Californians were succumbing to something known as the availability error, wherein people irrationally ignore known facts and pay attention to information that makes the biggest impression on them, or that comes to mind most easily. The availability error can also cause all sorts of other irrational behaviors. We do this because our first impression is what comes immediately to our minds. Yet another example is called the halo effect: when someone has a noticeable good trait, we tend to believe they have other good traits as well.

For example, we tend to think that people with good looks are also intelligent. Irrationality Key Idea 4: Doing what is socially expected and publicly announcing decisions can lead to irrational behavior.

Conforming to social norms is often one of the most rational things you can do. But conforming to social norms can also produce irrational behavior.

For example, the psychologist Solomon Asch demonstrated that subjects make irrational choices simply to conform to what society expects. He did so by showing his test subjects two cards: the first one had one line on it and the second had the same line as well as two others, one considerably longer and the other shorter than the first line.

The participants sat in a circle and were asked to a choose a line on the second card that was the same length as that on the first. Interestingly enough, many participants conformed by copying the answer given by an accomplice planted by the psychologist, which turned out to be wrong. In fact, people are more likely to stick with decisions that they announce publicly than those made in private. So, when we make an incorrect decision, we irrationally scramble to save face, instead of admitting that we changed our minds.

This inclination can produce something called the boomerang effect, which holds that once a strong view is challenged, it becomes even stronger. For instance, if someone strongly commits to an irrational belief by publicly announcing it, challenging their assertion can make it even stronger because the person in question will dig in their heels, wanting to save face.

Irrationality Key Idea 5: Giving rewards is irrational and being deprived of choice spurs irrational behavior. We all love rewards, and it might seem like giving them is a rational form of encouragement.

But the exact opposite is true: while verbal praise might be a good motivator, since it can be internalized by the recipient and keep encouraging them for times to come, physical rewards are actually quite discouraging.

In one experiment with students, the participants were asked to write headlines for their college newspaper. One group was paid while the other was not. In the end, the unpaid students wrote more headlines, showing that the incentive of a monetary reward produces worse performances.

A far better motivator than simple rewards is to foster a desire for self-improvement. Likewise, the more specific the comments, the more likely the students are to be encouraged in their learning.

Other books: ANNE STUART PDF

Another factor that promotes irrational behavior is to be deprived of the opportunity to choose. One experiment demonstrated this by giving ten-year-old children a toy — but the way they were given their toys differed: For both sample groups, two toys were presented to each individual child, with one of them being the known favorite of the given child. In one group, the experimenter would then give the child their favorite of the two, but also mention that the two toys looked the same to him and that he had chosen this toy for the child for no reason in particular.

This group of children enjoyed their favorite toy much less than they had before and liked it less than the children in the other group, who were allowed to choose their favorite toy freely, without comment from the experimenter. In other words, the children irrationally lowered their opinion of their favorite toy simply because someone else chose it for them — and did so, apparently, at random. Irrationality Key Idea 6: Denying information to maintain beliefs, as well as our emotions, can make us act irrationally.

In short, emotions make us behave irrationally because they distort our worldview. But emotions are different than feelings.


We might feel cold or tired; on the other hand, emotions are a combination of certain feelings with our tendency to act and think in certain ways. Stress, depression and jealousy are emotions that, like many others, make us act irrationally because they muddy our perspective.

Depressed people tend to see the world in a much more negative light, while optimistic people can often see the positive side of things. In addition, strong emotions of any type prevent us from focusing on rational decision making and make it difficult to consider alternatives, thereby producing irrational behavior.

One experiment presented participants with a word and asked them to choose its anagram from a list of six others.

They scanned the alternatives less carefully, made fewer correct choices and were four times more likely not to examine their choice before making a decision. So, emotions cause irrational thinking — but so does failing to seek contradictory evidence in order to maintain our beliefs.

In fact, people seek confirmation of their beliefs much more often, despite the fact that it would be more rational to critique them and see if they actually hold up.

One study showed that we seek confirmation of our opinions even if they are self-antagonizing: students who thought negatively of themselves preferred to share rooms with people who also had low opinions of them.

Irrationality Key Idea 7: Irrationality prevents us from properly assessing correlations and cause-and-effect relationships.

In fact, the connection between the two went unnoticed for centuries before the scientists Richard Doll and Richard Peto released certain statistics in the s. So, why did people fail to make this connection? But despite understanding the numbers, we still make mistakes regarding associations between events every single day. One reason for this is the tendency to confuse the causes and effects of events.

Stuart Sutherland

Obviously, this is irrational because the likelihood is exactly the same, the information is just phrased differently. But seeing a cause-and-effect relationship where none exists is also a major issue.Heres where this skeptic has most recently caught himself out: I watch my local football team and found myself complaining bitterly about other teams bullying us on the field by committing clear fouls which are ignored by the referee.

Karin Mihaljevic. There are some lovely little 'try this yourself' puzzles, where even though I knew there was a trick and I desperately did not want to answer like an irrational creature, I still got it wrong.

They show us some biases that make our judgement poorer, and therefore our decisions. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. For most of the book, Sutherland is a master with the juicy anecdote, although the book sags in the middle as he abandons real world examples in favour of that boring, over familiar, Person A, Person B, Person C scenario.

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