Book Club (Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely): Chapter 4…

Thoughts in order as they appeared while reading the Chapter…


Market/Social Norms… very fascinating… Excellent work on breaking down the idea/viewpoint/perspective into a few pages. This Author is very good at getting his point across in the quickest way possible… It is certainly a book of just one idea after another, he doesn’t use much filler, if even at all.

I think in some households there are polite ways to ask someone if they wanted any help covering the costs for a big meal. Amongst some it could definitely be considered a nice gesture… if it is done to the side and one on one… even if turned down, some might appreciate the offer if money is somewhat tight.

  • Exceptions to the rules
  • I do see his point though, still a good example!

The gifts section made me think about birthday/Christmas and the environment. Our social norms are killing the environment quite a bit. We buy and share many gifts that often get discarded or just piled up in some closet if you know what I mean… We definitely have an over consumption problem in this country… But I can understand the social norms and why they can be viewed as important (it almost hurts just thinking of not exchanging gifts and things)…

  • It is one thing when we get stuff for kids or those in need of things… but there is a common expression in this country, what is the gift for the person who has everything? I am not even sure we have a good answer for this, but we still find gifts to give.
  • Gift cards would fall under the crossover of social/market norms… which can often be seen in a negative light… puts a number/value next to the gift
  • To me it is nice and not too bad on the environment to send someone out to dinner… or give credit to buy a book or something like that. Perhaps audible is onto something with their credit per book. Rather than giving a specific amount, it is just for whatever book. Perhaps we could adopt something like this in more places, even restaurants. Like a credit for dinner, appetizer and a drink, rather than a specific amount of money… you know what I mean! Something to think about anyways.
  • Experiences… Hard not to tie to monetary value though
  • Small Trinkets?
  • Perhaps make an arrangement to only share gifts every so many years for adults over a certain age or those not in need?
  • It is just not the same world anymore… as a nation and world we are becoming self-aware… I wish it made environmental sense to give lots of gifts. It is a great social norm in theory!
  • I could still even see it as a social norm in some form even in heaven where we have everything at our disposal, because it is such a fine gesture… One might even consider it logical to human nature.

That “scrambled sentence task” experiment was very interesting… very fascinating how and how deeply the different norms are hardwired into us, even on a subconscious level…

I keep having thoughts while reading this chapter of how family businesses can tend to bridge the gap between norms in the workplace.

  • (Note to self (possible blog post): Talk about how social norms have been creeping into the workplace, not as cold and calculating anymore… Or are they just recalculating to meet the notion that happy employees are generally more productive? A bit cynical of a perspective, probably true in some places)

I still tend to believe that social and market norms can be integrated when put in the proper context and when given the proper explanations… This stems more from a belief that we as humans are rational beings and not just programmed computers.

  • I guess that I tend to believe that cultures and people can change and that they aren’t set in stone.

Some rather large and far reaching assumptions for one simple study (Daycare Study)

Sometimes the science world can believe too much that we are all such identical computers in my own opinion… Believe too much that it is an exact science…

  • Just some terminology used gives me that feeling
  • To be fair, most scientists don’t feel themselves above their own findings and not subject to their own reasonings… To say that this doesn’t stem from a feeling of superiority, rather just being scientifically minded and curious.
  • They can take out the unique “Being Human” element… know what I mean? That we have the closest thing to freedom of will on the Planet.
  • He alters our norms as he writes and publishes this book… Contributing to the Zeitgeist.

We our evolving all of the time… our culture is constantly evolving; our personal minds are constantly evolving…

We are all unique as well in a way, where almost every individual relationship develops its own customs over time. Not every relationship is the same… we don’t apply the same norms to every relationship.

The reason I stopped taking sociology in college was that I didn’t like the idea of studying humans. I felt that it would go straight to my head, perhaps make me think I am better than or above other people… didn’t seem humanistic… I also felt it might seep into personal relationships, studying everybody and not be able to turn it off… I more wanted to experience life/people, not study it/them.

  • I think I was meant to think that at the time
  • I felt that way about 5 or 10 minutes into my first sociology class

I think companies can have it both ways… especially coming from a small town…

  • Families have rules we have to abide by as well
  • It’s all about context… also a lot about ownership and management delivering a message well…
  • Definitely truer of Mom & Pop stores
  • There is a bottom line of… we are trying to be a functioning business that is trying to stay open for a long time. But both sides agreeing to that common principle can establish a common ground more based on social norms
  • You keep taking advantage of family members and there are consequences as well.
  • Perhaps I am not describing both ways, but more of a social norm driven idea… A foundation on social norms with market norms (necessary ones) then weaved in…
  • I am not sure I understood what he meant by can’t have it both ways at first… Became clearer when I read the next section on Employer/Employees and he used the same terminology.

Thoughts on education might need their own blog post or book for that matter!

  • I personally see the value in standardized testing… keeps us more on the same page rather than everyone getting completely different educations everywhere with wide ranging curriculums and standards… Helps with admissions into college…
  • Standardized testing was/is also probably the biggest driver of research into socioeconomic differences, cultural differences, learning disabilities, etc… we are truly working towards not having any child left behind… figuring out what needs to be changed and altered to education…
  • There is a growing body of research that shows how much of an impact just being able to fire bad teachers would have on public education… It is too important to protect bad teachers the way we do. A bad teacher can impact a child years into the future if they get behind. Not everyone with a degree in teaching is cut out for it or puts forth the necessary effort, like with any career for that matter.
  • I do think we also need to instill a better respect for teachers in our society… Respect goes a long way… If a kid sees a teacher as an authority on a subject, it helps, changes their perception of the teacher and the class… Perhaps we may need to create a new title for teachers, similar to a professor at the college level, that might help. Mr. And Mrs. May not be doing it… An added level of respect, to be distinguished.
  • Make kids realize they are getting a Top Tier education. Try and instill more of a college feeling…
  • Something I like to say to kids is… you are all pretty much over the original bar of being a genius (at a young age)… what many don’t realize is that the bar gets continually raised to only keep a certain small % within it… You are genius’s getting a genius level education.
  • There are some negatives to everyone thinking they are a genius, but the positives probably outweigh the negative… and a lot of the negative can be taught out of someone… Part of being a genius is realizing that no one is right all time! for example…
  • Thinking you are average I believe helps a person learn to delegate responsibilities and trust other people. Could very much teach that to genius’s as well though, with proper lessons.
  • Perhaps we could have a graduation after middle school? Tell them how smart they actually are… try and make Junior/Senior year feel more like college in a way…
  • Just some short thoughts… would really love to dive into a think tank and get all into trade schools, etc… I have all sorts of thoughts about learning disabilities as well.

I concur it would be nice to move the bar closer to social norms on the social norm/market norm spectrum…

Some interesting thoughts and anecdotes at the end of the Chapter… Thoughts that I felt probably aren’t the conclusion of the discussion, but rather just the beginning.

Fun chapter, very thought provoking… A lot of writing and typing this week!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s