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Home » Predictably Irrational: Basic Human Motivations by Dan Ariely (Transcript)

Predictably Irrational: Basic Human Motivations by Dan Ariely (Transcript)

Dan Ariely

Here is the full text of behavioral economist Dan Ariely’s talk: Predictably Irrational: Basic Human Motivations at TEDxMidwest conference.

Listen to the MP3 Audio here: Predictably Irrational – basic human motivations by Dan Ariely at TEDxMidwest


Okay. So I want to talk today a little about human motivation. What gets us to care and act, and be active.

And as a starting point, especially being in Chicago, close to the University of Chicago, in the Economics Department of Chicago, I think it’s worthwhile to think that our basic idea about human motivation is that we think about people like rats. People don’t like to work. If we were left to our own accord what we would be doing, we would be on a beach somewhere sipping mojitos. And the only reason we work is because we need to get money, so that we can eventually sit on the beach drinking mojitos.

But the basic motivation is to enjoy leisure and not work and everything else is just a distraction in order so we can do that. And it’s a fine model, but we should ask ourselves, is this a correct depiction of human motivation, is this really what gets us to act and to do things.

And one challenge you can think about is mountain climbing. If you look at people who have climbed different mountains and their depictions, and histories and stories you would think this is the most miserable thing in the world. People are cold, and have frostbite. It’s hard to breathe, it’s difficult. I climbed a little peak in the Himalayas many years ago and you would think that you would get to the top, and you would sit there and enjoy the view.

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