This site uses cookies to deliver our services, improve performance, for analytics, and (if not signed in) for advertising. By using LibraryThing you acknowledge that you have read and understand our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your use of the site and services is subject to these policies and terms.
Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

Sway: The Irresistible Pull of Irrational…

Sway: The Irresistible Pull of Irrational Behavior (2008)

by Ori Brafman, Rom Brafman

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,1183810,999 (3.57)30
  1. 20
    Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert B. Cialdini (espertus)
    espertus: Influence is the classic book on how people make up their minds. Sway is a lesser, but still valuable, addition to the field.
  2. 00
    Being Wrong: Adventures in the Margin of Error by Kathryn Schulz (bragan)

Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 30 mentions

English (38)  Dutch (1)  All languages (39)
Showing 1-5 of 38 (next | show all)
A look at the psychological tendencies we humans have that lead us to make irrational decisions, with lots of examples illustrating those tendencies and their results, from an airline pilot taking off without tower clearance and crashing into another plane, to basketball coaches not putting their objectively best players on the court most often, to people who become less likely to support a toxic waste dump in their town when offered financial compensation for it.

This is far from the most detailed or in-depth book on this subject. (If you want a really deep dive into many aspects of human irrationality, I recommend David Kahneman's Thinking, Fast and Slow instead.) But with its breezy writing and vivid examples of irrational thinking that are often interesting stories in their own right, it's a very, very readable one. (Admittedly, there are one or two of those examples I might have some reservations about, but that's a fairly small quibble.) The book seems to be primarily aimed at businesspeople, who are unlikely to have much of a background in psychology, but who really do need to be aware of widespread decision-making pitfalls. For someone like that, I'd say it's a good first introduction to the subject, with some useful advice, but a merciful absence of the kind of rah-rah motivational rhetoric or annoying corporatespeak you often get in books aimed at businesspeople. ( )
  bragan | Nov 7, 2017 |
I’ve been considering people’s motivations, trying to figure out why we make the choices we do, in an attempt to understand what may have precipitated the actions of characters I’m writing about. Sway caught my eye on the list of books I wanted to read and turned out to be a pretty interesting. Unexpectedly, this book gave me a lot to think about as far as trying to come up with rationales (however irrational) for why my characters might make the choices they do.

The Brafman brothers illustrate their point of view by using some high profile instances of irrational decision making, such as the crash of KLM Flight 4805 in which 584 people died, the space shuttle crash, people and business references that the general public would be familiar with.

I think it was a good strategy to use these, the material is actually quite profound. It is easy to follow the logic of irrational behavior when you can place yourself in the situation. Which was a funny place to be, considering it forces you to realize how many time you personally have made irrational decisions.

Ori, who has an MBA, relates his first day of business school. During the first class Professor Roberto Fernandez stated to the students, “People aren’t rational.” Then he went on to illustrate just how irrational they are by way of a film showing doctors performing open heart surgery and pouring asbestos onto the heart. And in another example they examined an engineer report about “...the likelihood of a mechanical failure as temperatures drop.” evidence that NASA had concerning the O-rings predicted failure before the launch of the space shuttle Challenger. “Fernandez’s point was that although we all like to think of ourselves as rational, we’re much more prone to irrational behavior than we realize.”

Each of the books chapters center around one particular habit or trait of irrational behavior. One such is “Diagnosis Bias” such as when a health care professional mistakenly assigns you a label like, “overly protective mother” and dismisses vital signs of a serious health problem as described in the preface. Another chapter centered on “Loss Aversion” I think one of the more prevalent irrational behaviors, and one I can see most people identifying with. It is when you perceive a loss to be greater than the real loss. There were several examples using phone or cable service. We’ll pay more for an “unlimited time use” because we are afraid of what we’d lose if we had to stay within a limit and pay more if we exceed it, even though we have the evidence that we don’t exceed it, it’s the implied “what if I do” that gets us to act irrationally.

I won’t go into all the stories, there are so many in what is a small book it’s hard to pick out just a few. I am already rereading it, taking notes for ideas on character behavior. This was interesting to think about from a writing standpoint. To think about my characters not behaving because of a clearly defined childhood event or circumstance but acting irrationally as anyone of us is prone to do.

The one irrational behavior the book talked about is one that gives me more reason to hate the current school system and what I’d already considered to be irrational behavior. Money as incentive for academic excellence, it just doesn’t work. Teachers can not put the students needs ahead of their own if outcomes are tied to monetary rewards.

MRI’s show “...the pleasure center and the altruistic center cannot both function at the same time: either one or the other is in control.” Meaning, that teachers teach for the high of inspiring students -the altruistic or they do it for the bonus -the pleasure.

“Neuropsychologist have shown that activities associated with addictive substances and those associated with monetary rewards are both processed by the pleasure center. Because monetary incentives present such a strong allure to us they distort our thinking.” What happens is teachers instead of acting in the interests of the students, that is inspiring them to learn, they instead, become focused on test scores “chasing the reward.” ( )
  LynneMF | Aug 20, 2017 |
My notes from book---I think many of my decisions are linked to loss aversion...

Hidden currents and forces include loss aversion (our tendency to go to great lengths to avoid possible losses), value attribution (our inclination to imbue a person or thing with certain qualities based on initial perceived value), and the diagnosis bias (our blindness to all evidence that contradicts our initial assessment of a person or situation).

Negative and external feelings about old age, in other words, can actually make people physically age faster. And the effect is not limited to hearing alone. Similar studies have found that negative stereotypes about aging contribute to memory loss and cardiovascular weakness, and even reduce overall life expectancy by an average of 7.5 years.

If you’ve ever been fortunate enough to work for a boss who values and believes in you, you’ll know that you tend to rise to meet the high expectations set for you. On the other hand, there’s nothing that will make you feel more incompetent and demoralized than a supervisor who is convinced you don’t have what it takes. ( )
  writemoves | Jul 16, 2017 |
I'm about 1/3 through Sway. It is startling to know how we are persuaded, sometimes imperceptibly and by our own brains, to do things that are not in our best interest. ( )
  ellekayjay | Sep 19, 2016 |
Seems like the library would have this, but no. Don't pay real money, but swap or add on to fill up a half.com order would be good.
  Cheryl_in_CC_NV | Jun 5, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 38 (next | show all)
“Sway” moves along swiftly, with each nugget of a chapter illustrating an aspect of the authors’ premise. They use dramatic narratives like the story of an accomplished pilot who made a seemingly irrational decision that sent 584 passengers (and him) to their deaths

» Add other authors (3 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Ori Brafmanprimary authorall editionscalculated
Brafman, Rommain authorall editionsconfirmed
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Series (with order)
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
To Nira.
For always believing in us
First words
Last words
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Publisher series
Original language
Canonical DDC/MDS

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English (1)

Book description
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0385524382, Hardcover)

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.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 17:57:58 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Explores the ongoing psychological forces that sabotage rational behavior in our personal and business lives, revealing how such factors as loss aversion, commitment, and the diagnosis bias distort logical thought.

» see all 5 descriptions

LibraryThing Early Reviewers Alum

Ori Brafman's book Sway: The Irresistible Pull of Irrational Behavior was available from LibraryThing Early Reviewers.

Sign up to get a pre-publication copy in exchange for a review.

Quick Links

Popular covers


Average: (3.57)
1 2
1.5 2
2 16
2.5 7
3 79
3.5 19
4 84
4.5 6
5 33

HighBridge Audio

An edition of this book was published by HighBridge Audio.

» Publisher information page


An edition of this book was published by HighBridge.

» Publisher information page

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.


About | Contact | Privacy/Terms | Help/FAQs | Blog | Store | APIs | TinyCat | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | Common Knowledge | 134,240,896 books! | Top bar: Always visible