How culture controls our decisions with behaviorial economist Dan Ariely

We’re born into a culture where trillions of decisions have already been made by the people who have lived before us. The entire human world is constructed of these expectations, so by the time we join that world as an adult, it’s pretty easy to feel like most of our decisions are limited and oftentimes made for us. When that operating system is screaming to go to school, get a job, buy all stuff that makes your life better, have some kids and borrow enough money to make it all happen, it can feel like your margin for independent ideas and motivation just got squashed.  It’s no wonder the decisions we think we’re making don’t feel very rational. No wonder how we can completely lose the motivation to keep slaving away. If you were an alien watching our evolution, you’d see a few big decisions but on a day-to-day basis we’re blind to how the decisions we’re making affect not only our own life but the future of our culture. 

This week’s guest Dan Ariely, studies decisions and motivation. He is the James B Duke professor of Psychology and Behavioral Economics at Duke University and the founder of the Center for Advanced Hindsight. Dani is also the author of three New York Times Bestsellers including Predictably Irrational, The Upside of Irrationality and The Honest Truth about Dishonesty and is preparing to release his next book, Payoff, later this year.  By the end of our chat, hopefully you have some new frameworks to evaluate our own road, not to mention the many paths around you. 

Song: Undecided, Ella Fitzgerald
Header image: Satya Murthy; Headshot image: Brian Smale