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The Ugly Duckling


Offers a lot of food for thought, although sometimes a bit dry. Thaler is better known now as the co-author of Nudge, but back in 1992 he compiled this book reviewing the current (at the time) economic literature regarding consistently reproducible examples of non-rational human behavior. It's not quite a popular economics book, as there are many passages where he simply details the findings of various economics papers, but it's also much more engagingly written than your standard academic treatise. And the anomalies are for the most part very interesting. I think the ultimatum game is the simplest, most succinct example of the type of irrationality that Thaler is looking at. To give away a small bit of the book, the ultimatum game is a two player game where one offers the other some fraction of a dollar (or $100, $1000, whatever). If the other person agrees they both get their respective fractions, but if the other person refuses then no one gets anything. A mechanically rational second player will take any offer, as it's better than nothing, but that's not what people do in reality, nor do real human first players usually offer the lowest possible amount. Many of the anomalies run along this line: mechanically rational model predicts one thing, experiments and empirical data predict another, what kind of model of human deviation from rationality would produce such a result? The book is split into several chapters, each of which explores a different anomaly. Some of the chapters are co-authored, and between them and the papers cited, you'll find a lot of famous names in this book, some of whom have grown in fame since this book's publication (to name a few: Larry Summers, Janet Yellen, Brad DeLong, and now-Nobel laureates Daniel Kahneman and George Akerlof). The chapters I enjoyed the most covered intertemporal choice (people discount the value of having or losing something in the future in inconsistent ways) and status quo bias (people tend to prefer the status quo and will show an irrational preference for maintaining it). I think this stuff is pretty fascinating. The main drawback of the book is that this fascinating stuff is sometimes presented dryly, at times reading like a laundry list of economic papers. I suppose this was sometimes deliberate because neither he nor the field of economics at large had a good answer to explain the irrationalities being discusses, and so he simply tried to present as much about it as possible. But deliberate or not, the book suffers a bit for these tendencies. When Thaler breaks out of academician mode and writes "for" the reader he becomes much more enjoyable, but there is a bit of legwork to do when reading this book. If you're willing to do this legwork you'll be rewarded with a nice, if slightly dated (surely there have been many advances since 1992?) survey of economic modeling of human behavior beyond simple rationality.

2020-09-08 09:52


Bu kitabı gerçekten beğendim, ama biraz kafa karıştırıcıydı.

2020-01-12 08:27

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