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TED Videos: Ariely on Cheating, Gilbert on Value Miscalculation

From time to time you’ll see me post links to videos from TED.com (Schwartz on incentives [3], Wallace on buying happiness [4], Lee on American Chinese food [5]). I find a lot of their videos to be absolutely fascinating. Today I watched two videos I wanted to share with you all, one from a behavioral economist, Dan Ariely, and another from a psychologist, Dan Gilbert.

The first video was of a talk by Dan Ariely about cheating [6]. Dan Ariely wrote Predictably Irrational, a book about how we all make predictably make irrational decisions and if you’ve read his book then his talk will be very familiar. His talk recaps his cheating experiment but adds a few anecdotes I don’t remember reading in the book.

I’ve embedded the second video [7] below because I think it’s better (and more interesting because I was already familiar with Ariely’s experiment and his findings). It features Dan Gilbert, a Harvard psychologist, and how we determine “value” and the errors of our shifting comparisons. The video is 33 minutes long but well worth it because he goes into the various ways in which we miscalculate the value of things, from Presidents to Big Mac’s to lottery tickets.

If you’ve read Ariely’s book, you’ll recognize a lot of similarities in their findings (Gilbert’s example with the wine matches Ariely’s example with the newspaper delivery options). What’s also great is that Gilbert is a very entertaining and energetic speaker, which always makes for a good video.

If you make it to the end, around the 30 minute mark, you’re treated to a Q&A with Gilbert in which someone stands up and makes a point, albeit a bit contentiously, about lottery tickets and the $1 going towards enjoyment and anticipation, rather than for a financial payoff.