Found in 17 comments on Hacker News
yboris · 2022-11-30 · Original thread
I read many books in field of psychology focusing on rationality / irrationality. I think some of the best are:

Mindware by Richard Nisbett - a researcher focusing on this for decades distills his best insight in a recent book.

Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely - a classic book in the field.

yboris · 2022-08-10 · Original thread
I have found (academic) analytic philosophy to be a great way to slow down and think clearly. So I propose exposing yourself to well-thought-out arguments to see the kinds of "moves" people make.

A good place to start may be with the book by Daniel Dennett: Intuition Pumps And Other Tools for Thinking

Similarly, it's great to read good science books with careful arguments. One of the best I think is Culture of Honor: The Psychology of Violence in the South -- the authors use a variety of independent experiments to make their conclusions.

In general, it's probably worth learning a bunch of psychology too - to understand others better (along with the variety of cognitive biases people have). A classic book in this direction is Dan Ariely's Predictably Irrational

astrobase_go · 2017-09-11 · Original thread
indeed; for those who may not be familiar, see 'behavioral economics' [0] for the ways that known quirks in human reasoning can be used to game consumers. don't buy a house without learning about it.

there are two great books I recommend for those interested: predictably irrational [1] and the upside of irrationality [2]. personally, I think the first is better than the second as a layman's introduction to it.




dmix · 2016-09-06 · Original thread
It's not a lie, though.

It just means they saw some value in the product but didn't feel enough motivation to actually follow through and signup/use the product.

This is similar in many ways to someone answering "it's too expensive". The value prop is either not strong enough, not being marketed well enough, too complicated to start using... or the product is solving a pain point that people don't care enough about to build a business around it. Which is a serious question the OP needs to ask themselves. Unless their traffic<costs>conversion rate ratio is sufficient.

You can't expect customers to articulate that everytime (10-20% seems about right to me) because most people aren't actually thinking their actions through when visiting a landing page. Especially when it's via an ad... not something they searched out on Google or via referral.

Even if they did tell you they wouldn't necessarily know why... because you're assuming it was a rational thought process, or something they spent time thinking through, which is rarely the case. Books about how customers acting 'irrational' [1] are very useful at explaining this and are important to always be considering when doing marketing/UX design.


boulos · 2016-04-26 · Original thread
Ugh, I always forget that I shouldn't do that here (I move URLs out of the way like this for email) and its been too long to edit.
icehawk219 · 2015-07-21 · Original thread
The book Predictably Irrational[0] has a good section on how making the salaries of CEO's of publicly traded companies public information is one of the things that has helped lead to their salaries spiking so incredibly in recent years. It's been some time since I read the book but if I remember correctly the argument is that making them public basically removes any social embarrassment or taboo around having extravagant salaries. If sharing salary info becomes more commonplace in other areas I wonder if you'd see the same thing or the exact opposite.


hvd · 2014-12-08 · Original thread
For me it was 1.Influence: It talks about how the brain has certain preprogrammed sequences for situations. 2.Predictably Irrational Again about the hidden mechanisms with which we make decisions and our reptile brain.
spott · 2014-07-24 · Original thread
>People are rational, and want to understand, but unless you make the information properly accessible in the UX sense, your exasperation is due to your own fault.

No. They really aren't[1], and they really don't[2].

Changing your mind is very hard, and most people don't do it. Even if you have been trained to change your mind, the longer that you hold onto an idea, the harder it is to believe the idea to be false. There is a reason Neils Bohr stated "science progresses one death at a time."

You are likely reading this and coming up with a bunch of reasons that you are right, and I'm wrong. Likely: "You missed the point, You didn't talk about UX", or "The doctor was still condescending," or more likely there is some flaw in my argument that you immediately see[3]. These thoughts alone should give you a good idea that it is difficult to change your mind.

[1] [2] [3] It is also entirely possible that you don't think any of these things. It depends on how strongly you hold to the belief that you shared.

dmix · 2013-10-08 · Original thread
Which part do you hate, that humans have the biological flaw of fear/ego being their greatest motivator or that we live in a market economy that feeds into it?

"Predictably Irrational" is a brilliant book about this subject. Consumers do not buy things rationally. And the answer is not simply exploitation by marketing companies (although that is a big part of the narrative).

caw · 2013-09-28 · Original thread
If you want to go more of the Psychology route:

Predictably Irrational (Dan Ariely, he has some TED talks as well)

Influence, the Science of Persuasion (Robert Cialdini)

obiterdictum · 2013-07-08 · Original thread
On a related note, for anyone interested in this, I recommend reading "Predictably Irrational" by Dan Ariely[1]. He does actual studies and discusses a lot of these things (bias to loss aversion, change in behaviour when 1-layer detached from cash) and more.


mmorris · 2013-07-05 · Original thread
I really enjoyed Dan's book Predictably Irrational. If you have any interest in human motivation and rationality, I'd recommend you pick up a copy:
scott_s · 2012-10-08 · Original thread
Dan Arielly's "Predictably Irrational" ( is a great book that covers such phenomenon.
I highly recommend reading "Predictably Irrational" by Dan Ariely if you thought this article was interesting. It covers exactly this subject and makes for fascinating reading. I picked up the book about a week ago via some other post linked here on HN and I'm loving it.

tokenadult · 2011-05-21 · Original thread
"The probability that a certain person be stupid is independent of any other characteristic of that person."

This is assuredly true, on the basis of replicated research, with regard to IQ. There is essentially no correlation between IQ and rationality.

High-IQ people can be every bit as irrational ("stupid" in the language of the submitted article) as low-IQ people, and worse still, not notice that they are being stupid. There are whole books on the subject.

All we can do about that here on HN is take other people's comments seriously and try to see ourselves as others see us as we ponder our decisions.

scott_s · 2011-03-09 · Original thread
I also liked his book, also called "Predictably Irrational":
anirudh · 2011-01-31 · Original thread
This and many of such psychological effects are described brilliantly in Dan Ariely's book Predictably Irrational. Amazon link :

He also talks about all the experiments he did to support such claims.

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