Sway: The Irresistible Pull of Irrational Behavior by Ori Brafman and Rom Brafman

Michelle Hill
Student, MAP

This is a fantastic read, and a great book about the pull of irrational thinking that to me seems to pervade our so-called modern thinking these days. In certain social circumstances, I too, more often than not, find myself feeling completely inundated by the influence of other people’s expectations, opinions, and beliefs, even when I know intuitively what would be better for me personally. Yet, I still can and do succumb to being pulled by my own completely irrational thinking, and am sometimes left scratching my head, asking myself “What just happened?” The Brafman brothers have written a very powerful and thought-provoking book that very convincingly reveals how easy it is for some of us to sell ourselves and others short, when doing so is the very last thing we would ever want to do. They offer great examples of how even highly trained and experienced pilots and other skilled professionals have been known to do unthinkable things when perceived to be under a certain kind of pressure. This is an easy and fun read full of many useful insights.

Here are my three favorite quotes:

“Our natural tendency to avoid the pain of loss is most likely to distort our thinking when we place too much importance on short-term goals. When we adopt the long view, on the other hand, immediate potential losses don’t seem as menacing.”

“If looking far into the future is the way to avoid faulty decision making that can result from loss aversion, the antidote to getting swept up in commitment—the force that keeps us from giving up on a project even though it’s clearly failing—is to don the Zen Buddhist glasses and learn to let go of the past. There’s a point where we have to accept that what’s done is done, and it’s better to shift direction than to dig ourselves deeper into a hole.”

“Whether we’re shopping at a clearance outlet or a chic boutique, we sometimes need to fight our tendency to consciously dismiss an item because of its price. Instead, we should ask ourselves, ‘If I got this item as a gift, would I like it? If it cost $1—or $1,000—how would my perception of it shift?’ The more we become aware of the factors affecting the perceived value of a person or object, the less likely we are to be swayed by value attribution.”
Irrationality, Wikipedia
“‘Click’: That Magical Instant Connection Explained,” Talk of the Nation, NPR
Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, Wikipedia

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