We mediators play midwife to decision making. We patiently assist in an arduous and sometimes painful process while parties labor, struggling to make the right choices in difficult circumstances. We strive to ensure that those who weigh those choices are able to reach rational decisions based on accurate and complete information.
But just how rational are the decisions that people make, whether at the mediation table or anywhere else? How much control do any of us really exert over those choices?
A new book has some surprising answers and explains why it is that we are more susceptible than we realize to the vagaries of our own minds and vulnerable to the forces of emotions and social norms. Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions, written by Dan Ariely, a behavioral economist, the Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Behavioral Economics at MIT’s Sloan School of Management, and a visiting professor at Duke University.