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Payoff by Dan Ariely

The hidden logic that shapes our motivation TED books, 103 pages.

Dan Ariely strikes again. The undisputed star of behavioral economics produces content at an astonishing pace, while maintaining an impressive level of interest and quality. The latest book is published by TED Press – so far in English only – and is a direct continuation of his excellent lecture (five million views). In both, Arieli examines the basic principles that shape our motivation and, as a result, the world of work and employment.

TED books are a natural continuation of the idea underlying the lectures that have become a real cultural phenomenon, presenting big ideas in popular language and in minimal time. Each book is designed to be short and light enough to be swallowed in one short reading, while on the other hand in-depth enough to review a specific area of knowledge. This is, of course, not an easy task, and in this case the breadth of the scope was sacrificed in favor of an elegant abbreviation of some of the main forces investigated in recent years, in short, although a search under the flashlight but well stylized.

Typically, Arieli chooses to start with what hurts our motivation, a hint – lack of recognition of the efforts invested – not surprisingly, payment for work is not at all our top priority when it comes to satisfaction and motivation to continue investing efforts. When there is no recognition of the quality of the work, no payment will save motivation, and a great employee can turn into a frustrated employee who is squinted out.

Anyone familiar with Arieli’s work or having read his previous books will immediately connect to the style, but will not find much new information in the short booklet, perhaps apart from the sole focus on motivation, and in particular motivation in the workplace. Arieli draws lines between his famous experiments and real stories from the modern world of employment and points out the conclusions drawn from their similarities. Thus, the unwillingness of students to continue assembling toys that are disassembled by the experimenter in front of their eyes sheds new light on the frustration of high-tech workers whose project they worked on for two years was shelved and never launched – as mentioned, it turns out that beyond the financial reward, we need recognition of the effort made and a sense of creativity. Another experiment in which students assessed the value of their paper folding creations based on their efforts rather than their beauty or quality, shows why IKEA is so successful with its DIY furniture.

So you decided to start a new diet after the holidays, or start a new savings account toward the end of your kids’ high school, or get rid of the bad habit of consuming fast food at surprising hours, so you decided. In practice, not only do our decisions not translate into action, but they often make things worse by clearing our conscience without any real change. A good understanding of how motivation works, and even more so, what pulls the rug out from under our willingness to make an effort, is essential for making decisions.

In conclusion, this is a light and intriguing glimpse into the complex content world of human motivation, from the mouth of one of the most fascinating and interesting people in the field. There is no literary or conceptual innovation here, but in our constant struggle to make the right decisions and encourage positive motivations without compromising the quality of work and satisfaction, Dan Ariely’s voice provides a variety of insightful advice and formats to fold up your sleeves and get started. Already today.

Happy reading!

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