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Understanding the Irrational Customer: An Interview with Dan Ariely

Marketing, Psychology, consumer, rationality

How do people make decisions? And why do they make bad ones? This is Dan Ariely’s field of expertise. The behavioral economist studies what motivates our choices and has revealed many counterintuitive results that factor into decision-making. For example, consumers are more motivated by a $3 latte than three single dollar bills. And they’ll think a product is a great deal if it is simply placed next to a more expensive one. Ariely walks us through these remarkable findings and explains the implications for marketers.

We make many decisions — large and small — every day, ranging from what we should eat for lunch to what we should do with our lives. You would think that we approach all of them rationally and logically. But you’d be wrong.

Dan Ariely, a professor of behavioral economics at Duke, has been researching human behavior for more than 20 years. In his best-selling books — which include Predictably Irrational, The (Honest) Truth About Dishonesty and The Upside of Irrationality — he explores the many ways in which we’re not rational when we make decisions, and how this irrationality is often systematic and predictable.

We spoke to Ariely about his research and the lessons marketers can take from it.

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