Sway: The Irresistible Pull of Irrational Behavior

Sway
Does paying $204 for a twenty dollar bill sound ridiculous to you? While we may scoff at such an act now, Ori and Rom Brafman show how our logical judgements can be clouded when faced with certain circumstances thus leading us to completely irrational behaviour that makes no sense to an outsider.

Sway is a little journey of exploration beneath our psyches to discover the motivation behind many of our decisions, conscious or otherwise. The Brafman brothers take us behind the scenes of our own mental processes, scrutinising subtle details that hijack our logical thinking and that lead to poor decisions.

The story begins with a little tale about how the head of KLM’s safety programme caused a deadly airplane crash that killed 584 lives. Despite his experience and track record, he was caught in the web of irrational behaviour that led him down a path dangerous path he normally avoids. The Brafmans continue the narrative with a series of studies and research that discuss different elements such as loss aversion and over commitment that drove the pilot to make his fatal error.

Along the way, the brothers continue to offer more research and anecdotes that seem surprising on the surface, such as how Russian audiences are highly likely to mislead contestants on the game show ‘Who wants to be a Millionaire?’, which makes perfect sense once their motivations are revealed. Other chapters derail common notions such as job interviews being effective hiring methods, when studies have shown that they have little bearing on the employee’s future potential.

Sway provides an enlightening look at what drives our behaviour, suggesting ways to avoid the pitfalls of such irrationality and remain level-headed even in trying circumstances. It will definitely help a reader change the way he thinks and become more conscious of the hidden machinations in our minds.

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