10 Best Behavioral Economics Books Update 05/2022

BE is one of the most interesting fields of study. Even if you’re not a designer or a marketer but just want to make the most of your time and happiness in the world, there are many behavioral economics books you can read.

In this list, you will find ten of the most important behavioral economics books:

Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, by Dr. Robert Cialdini

Influence The Psychology of Persuasion, by Dr. Robert Cialdini

This is what author and researcher Dr. Robert Cialdini has to say about why people say yes to things. He also lays out six universal principles that you need to be a good persuader. These principles aren’t always what you think, though.

Influence is a well-known book in the field of behavioral economics because it has been studied for 35 years and has a lot of evidence to back it up.

Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions, by Dan Ariely

We like to think we’re in charge of how we make decisions, but that’s not always the case. It’s true that popular New York Times best-selling author, professor and behavioral economist Dan Ariely (@danariely) talks about times when we don’t make smart, rational decisions. You might not know it, but we all make the same mistakes (like procrastinating and overpaying, or underestimating). We also make them in a systematic and predictable way. In other words, we’re always going to be irrational.

Fortunately, this means that we can break these thought patterns in order to make better decisions. Predictably Irrational is full of interesting examples from a lot of behavioral economics studies. It’s likely to change not only how you think about the world, but also how you act in it.

The Darwin Economy: Liberty, Competition, and the Common Good, by Robert Frank

Then what would happen if society could be made to be much more fair, quickly? If you want to know why Darwin’s theory of competition was more accurate than Adam Smith’s popularized theory of the invisible hand, behavioral economist Robert Frank (@econnaturalist) has the answer. Smith’s ideas have been misunderstood in the past. He is best known for his argument for free competition and against regulation, taxation, and even government.

Darwin, on the other hand, thought that the interests of the individual and the group often don’t line up. What is good for one person may not be good for the whole group. Economic competition, on the other hand, often encourages people to act in ways that are bad for both the group and for each person.

News that’s good: Frank talks about a plan that doesn’t involve a ban on smoking. This plan could make the total pie bigger, get rid of government debt, and allow for high-quality public services without anyone having to make a big sacrifice.

Scarcity: Why Having Too Little Means So Much, by Sendhil Mullainathan and Eldar Shafir

Scarcity Why Having Too Little Means So Much, by Sendhil Mullainathan and Eldar Shafir

There is a reason why so many students and CEOs keep putting things off. Why is it so hard for dieters to not eat things they know they should not? Why can’t some groups get past putting out fires?

You can learn more about behavioral science and behavioral economics from authors Sendhil Mullainathan and Eldar Shafir. They use their research to show that the mindset of scarcity is to blame for many of the problems that come with modern life. It’s also clear how we can better manage our perception of scarcity so that we can truly thrive.

Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness, by Richard Thaler & Cass Sunstein

It has sold more than 1.5 million copies and been named the best book of the year by The Economist. Nudge is one of those little behavioral economics books that has had a big impact on people. A lot of the time, Nudge is all about how we make decisions and how to make better ones.

It turns out that choices are always presented in a way that isn’t neutral, and our biases make us more likely to make bad decisions. Nobel Prize winner Richard Thaler and Harvard Law professor Cass Sunstein show that this is true. We can help ourselves and others make better decisions by setting up “choice architecture” that is smart. This doesn’t limit the amount of freedom we value.

The Upside of Irrationality: The Unexpected Benefits of Defying Logic, by Dan Ariely

Did you know that giving CEOs a lot of money makes them less productive? Let’s not forget that even though directions aren’t easy to follow, they can actually help you.

Behavioral economist Dan Ariely (@danariely) has even more startling revelations about how our irrational behavior can not only hurt us, but also help us, so read on! A lot of what we think makes us happy doesn’t actually make us happy, and that can be good. Ariely looks at how we act both at work and at home, and he gives us clear-eyed, research-backed insights into what drives us on the job and what behavioral economics has to say about love.

The Why Axis: Hidden Motives and the Undiscovered Economics of Everyday Life, by Uri Gneezy & John List

The Why Axis Hidden Motives and the Undiscovered Economics of Everyday Life, by Uri Gneezy & John List

Nowhere will Uri Gneezy (@UriGneezy) and John List (@JohnList) go in the name of behavioral economics, but they won’t stop there. They’ve set up shop in offices, schools, factories, and more, in places like Tanzania, India, Israel, and the United States, to run brilliant, randomized experiments that will leave you in awe.

There are ways to close the gap between rich and poor students, stop the violence in inner-city schools, figure out whether women are less competitive than men, price goods and services correctly, and find out why people discriminate against each other. This is what their research shows.

It doesn’t matter if you work in the field of education or philanthropy or business or politics or at a tech start-up: You will walk away with a better understanding of how to motivate both yourself and others.

Paradox of Choice, by Barry Schwartz

The more options we have, the better, but it turns out there’s a dark side to that. The term “choice overload” can make you question yourself before you even make a decision. It can happen when you’re choosing a doctor, setting up a 401(k), or even choosing a jar of jam.

If we want to feel better, we should not try to have more choices, but less. Schwartz (@BarrySch) makes a strong case for this idea in this “social critique of our obsession with choice, and how this leads to anxiety, disappointment, and regret.” He gives eleven smart tips on how to limit your choices in a smart way, build the discipline to only focus on what’s important, and choose more wisely.

Thinking Fast and Slow, by Daniel Kahneman

When it comes to reading books about behavioral economics, this one is a huge one. Kahneman, a Nobel Prize winner, is the author of this best-selling book. In it, he explains how the two parts of the brain work: System 1, which is fast, emotional, and intuitive; and System 2, which is slow, logical, and more deliberate.

It’s a lot easier to make good decisions when you know how these two systems affect your thinking and decision-making. This is true both at work and in your personal life. Kahneman shows both the flaws and the greatness of both systems, and he shows how to use “slow thinking.”

Happy Money: The Science of Happier Spending, by Elizabeth Dunn & Michael Norton

There are five things you need to do to be a smart spender. Money can buy happiness, but only if you follow them. Happy Money is a fun and interesting look at the science of spending. It explains how you can get more happiness for your money, which is what the book is about.

Both people who want to be financially secure, as well as businesses that want their employees to be happier and their customers to be happier, can use these five principles by Elizabeth Dunn (@DunnHappyLab) and Michael Norton (@MichaelNorton). Behavioral economics ideas have been used by companies like Google, Pepsi, and Charmin. Dunn and Norton show how these ideas have been put into practice.

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