Dan Ariely

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Dan Ariely
Dan Ariely - PopTech 2010 - Camden, Maine.jpg
Dan Ariely in 2010
Born (1967-04-29) April 29, 1967 (age 49)
New York City, New York, U.S.
Nationality Israeli American
Institutions Duke University
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Alma mater Duke University
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Tel Aviv University

Dan Ariely (Hebrew: דן אריאלי‎‎; born April 29, 1967) is the James B. Duke Professor of Psychology and Behavioral Economics at Duke University and is the founder of The Center for Advanced Hindsight[1] and also the co-founder of BEworks.[2] Ariely's talks on TED have been watched over 7.8 million times. He is the author of Predictably Irrational and The Upside of Irrationality, both of which became New York Times best sellers, as well as The Honest Truth about Dishonesty.[3]

Early life and family[edit]

Dan Ariely was born in New York City while his father was studying for an MBA degree at Columbia University. The family returned to Israel when he was three. He grew up in Ramat Hasharon.[3] In his senior year of high school, he was active in Hanoar Haoved Vehalomed, an Israeli youth movement. While preparing a ktovet esh (fire inscription) for a traditional nighttime ceremony, the flammable materials he was mixing exploded, causing third-degree burns over 70 percent of his body.[3] In his writings Ariely describes how that experience led to his research on "how to better deliver painful and unavoidable treatments to patients."[4]

Ariely is married to Sumi, with whom he has two children, a son and a daughter.[3]

Education and academic career[edit]

Ariely was a physics and mathematics major at Tel Aviv University, but transferred to philosophy and psychology. However, in his last year he dropped philosophy and concentrated solely on psychology, in which he received his B.A. in 1991. He also holds an M.A. (1994) and a Ph.D. (1996) in cognitive psychology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He completed a second doctorate in business administration at Duke University in 1998 at the urging of Nobel economic sciences laureate Daniel Kahneman.[3]

After obtaining his PhD degree, he taught at MIT between 1998 and 2008, before returning to Duke University as James B. Duke Professor of Psychology and Behavioral Economics. He was formerly the Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Behavioral Economics at MIT Sloan School of Management.

Business Activities[edit]

Ariely was a founding member of an Internet technology company called Simpli, alongside CEO Jeff Stibel. Simpli was sold in 2000 to NetZero.[5] Another company that leveraged the Simpli WordNet technology was purchased by Google and they continue to use the technology for search and advertising under the brand Google AdSense.

In 2001, there was a buyout of the company and it was merged with another company called Search123.[6] Most of the original members joined the new company. The company was later sold in 2004 to ValueClick,[7] which continues to use the technology and search engine to this day.[citation needed] In 2015 his start-up company, Timeful, was sold to Google.[8]

In October 2015, Ariely was named chief behavioral economist for the mobile app Qapital. Ariely, who has also invested in the company,[9] uses his access to the app's platform and database to assist him in independent research into consumer saving and spending behavior. In turn, Qapital can access Ariely's research to test technologies and ideas for use in the app. Entrepreneur magazine observed that, "It's a synergistic relationship that points at the emergence of a new trend: the collaboration between startups and social scientists."[10]

In 2016, he started to work for a startup called Lemonade.


Ariely is the author of the books Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions, The Upside of Irrationality: The Unexpected Benefits of Defying Logic at Work and at Home and The Honest Truth About Dishonesty: How We Lie to Everyone – Especially Ourselves. He explains the impetus for his first book,

"I have a Ph.D. in cognitive psychology, and I have a Ph.D. in business administration. But what I do lies between psychology and economics. I ask questions that economists would ask, but instead of assuming straightaway that people behave rationally, I just observe how people behave. In "Predictably Irrational", I talk about how people think, mostly about financial decisions. The things that we buy. One chapter asks the question, "How do we decide how much something is worth?" Economic theory has a very simple assumption about this. But I ask the question, "How do we really do it?"" [11]

When asked whether reading Predictably Irrational and understanding one's irrational behaviors could make a person's life worse (such as by defeating the benefits of a placebo), Ariely responded that there could be a short-term cost, but that there would also likely be long-term benefits, and that reading his book would not make a person worse off.[12] Asked to describe "The Upside of Irrationality", Ariely says,

"The first half is about motivation in the workplace. It asks questions like, "What is the real effect of bonuses? What happens when we give high bonuses?" It turns out it motivates people, but it doesn't always bring higher performance. It often actually brings lower performance. Because money can stress people...The second part of "The Upside of Irrationality" is about the personal life. It's about the question, how do we find happiness? And how do we adapt to good and bad things that happen to us? And it's a little bit about emotion." [11]

Michael S. Roth writes of "The Honest Truth About Dishonesty", "Ariely raises the bar for everyone. In the increasingly crowded field of popular cognitive science and behavioral economics, he writes with an unusual combination of verve and sagacity. He asks us to remember our fallibility and irrationality, so that we might protect ourselves against our tendency to fool ourselves." [13]

In 2008 Ariely, along with his co-authors, Rebecca Waber, Ziv Carmon and Baba Shiv, was awarded an Ig Nobel Prize in medicine for their research demonstrating that "high-priced fake medicine is more effective than low-priced fake medicine."[14]

Other works[edit]

Center for Advanced Hindsight[edit]

Ariely's laboratory, the Center for Advanced Hindsight at Duke University, pursues research in subjects like the psychology of money, decision making by physicians and patients, cheating, and social justice.[3]


Ariely is the co-founder of BEworks Inc, a firm that applies behavioral economics to business and policy challenges.

Arming the Donkeys[edit]

Arming The Donkeys is a podcast of Ariely's interviews with researchers in the fields of social and natural sciences.



Audio and video appearances[edit]

See also[edit]


External links[edit]