Sway: The Irresistible Pull of Irrational Behavior

Ori Brafman & Rod. A. Beckstrom



A fascinating journey into the hidden psychological influences that derail our decision-making, Sway will change the way you think about the way you think.

Why is it so difficult to sell a plummeting stock or end a doomed relationship? Why do we listen to advice just because it came from someone “important”? Why are we more likely to fall in love when there’s danger involved? In Sway, renowned organizational thinker Ori Brafman and his brother, psychologist Rom Brafman, answer all these questions and more.

Drawing on cutting-edge research from the fields of social psychology, behavioral economics, and organizational behavior, Sway reveals dynamic forces that influence every aspect of our personal and business lives, including loss aversion (our tendency to go to great lengths to avoid perceived losses), the diagnosis bias (our inability to reevaluate our initial diagnosis of a person or situation), and the “chameleon effect” (our tendency to take on characteristics that have been arbitrarily assigned to us).

Sway introduces us to the Harvard Business School professor who got his students to pay $204 for a $20 bill, the head of airline safety whose disregard for his years of training led to the transformation of an entire industry, and the football coach who turned conventional strategy on its head to lead his team to victory. We also learn the curse of the NBA draft, discover why interviews are a terrible way to gauge future job performance, and go inside a session with the Supreme Court to see how the world’s most powerful justices avoid the dangers of group dynamics.

Every once in a while, a book comes along that not only challenges our views of the world but changes the way we think. In Sway, Ori and Rom Brafman not only uncover rational explanations for a wide variety of irrational behaviors but also point readers toward ways to avoid succumbing to their pull.

What will you learn from this book

  1. Loss Aversion: People tend to be more affected by the fear of loss than the potential for gain. Understanding this bias can help in making more rational decisions.

  2. Commitment and Consistency Bias: Once people commit to a certain course of action, they tend to remain consistent with that commitment, even when it might not be in their best interest. Recognizing this bias can help avoid sticking with suboptimal decisions.

  3. The Role of Social Influence: Social pressures and influences significantly impact decision-making. Individuals may sway from rational choices due to peer pressure, conformity, or the desire for social acceptance.

  4. The Power of Context: Context and environment play a significant role in shaping behavior. Small changes in the environment can lead to significant shifts in decision-making.

  5. The Influence of Authority: People often defer to authority figures or perceived experts, sometimes to the detriment of their own judgment. Being aware of this tendency can help in critically evaluating information from authoritative sources.

  6. Emotional Influence: Emotional states can heavily influence decision-making processes. High-stress situations or emotional turmoil may lead to irrational decisions.

  7. The Halo Effect: People tend to generalize positive or negative traits across various aspects of an individual or situation based on a single positive or negative attribute. Understanding this bias helps in making more nuanced judgments.

  8. Anchoring Bias: Initial information or an initial number provided tends to heavily influence subsequent decisions. Being aware of anchoring can help in making more independent assessments.

  9. The Escalation of Commitment: Even in the face of evidence suggesting a change in course is needed, individuals may continue to invest in a failing course of action due to the fear of admitting failure.

  10. The Wisdom of the Crowd and Herding Behavior: The wisdom of the crowd can be overshadowed by herding behavior, where individuals blindly follow the actions or opinions of a group without critically evaluating them.

Language English
ISBN-10 978-0-385-52438-4
ISBN-13 978-0385524384
No of pages 206
Font Size Medium
Book Publisher Crown Business
Published Date 03 Jun 2008

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