100 books like Optimally Irrational

By Lionel Page,

Here are 100 books that Optimally Irrational fans have personally recommended if you like Optimally Irrational. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of A Wealth of Well-Being: A Holistic Approach to Behavioral Finance

Enrico G. De Giorgi Author Of Behavioral Finance for Private Banking: From the Art of Advice to the Science of Advice

From my list on diving into the next generation of behavioral finance.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a Swiss researcher and university professor who applies mathematics and psychology to build quantitative models for financial decision-making. Most of my scientific contributions belong to a field of research called behavioral finance, that is, the study of how psychology affects financial decisions. I love mathematics, and I am fascinated by its ability to describe complex mechanisms, including those that generate human behavior.  

Enrico's book list on diving into the next generation of behavioral finance

Enrico G. De Giorgi Why did Enrico love this book?

The book was, for me, an inspiring journey and an enriching learning experience. While conventional behavioral finance tends to analyze deviations from rationality within economic decisions, this book diverges, offering a holistic behavioral framework.

I like that the book views individuals not merely as economic agents but as complete beings, with financial well-being acting as a gauge for overall life prosperity. I believe that Prof. Statman's third generation of behavioral finance represents a paradigm shift towards a constructive scientific approach. I fully share its primary objective to empower individuals in their pursuit of personal fulfillment and satisfaction.

By Meir Statman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Wealth of Well-Being as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Unravel the complex relationship between finances and life well-being

In A Wealth of Well-Being: A Holistic Approach to Behavioral Finance, Professor Meir Statman, established thought leader in behavioral finance, explores how life well-being, the overarching aim of individuals in the third generation of behavioral finance, is underpinned by financial well-being, and how life well-being extends beyond financial well-being to family, friendship, religion, health, work, and education.

Combining recent scientific findings by scholars in finance, economics, law, medicine, psychology, and sociology with real-life stories at the intersection of finances and life, this book allows readers to clearly see how finances are…


Book cover of A Behavioral Approach to Asset Pricing

Enrico G. De Giorgi Author Of Behavioral Finance for Private Banking: From the Art of Advice to the Science of Advice

From my list on diving into the next generation of behavioral finance.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a Swiss researcher and university professor who applies mathematics and psychology to build quantitative models for financial decision-making. Most of my scientific contributions belong to a field of research called behavioral finance, that is, the study of how psychology affects financial decisions. I love mathematics, and I am fascinated by its ability to describe complex mechanisms, including those that generate human behavior.  

Enrico's book list on diving into the next generation of behavioral finance

Enrico G. De Giorgi Why did Enrico love this book?

This book inspired me to apply quantitative and theoretical models to analyse the impact of human psychology on financial decision-making. The book is sometimes a bit technical, but I felt that that the explanations around the mathematical requirements sufficiently supported the development of my own intuition about their economic and psychological motivation.

I learned from this book how to combine economic theory and psychology to explain empirical and experimental evidence on asset prices.  As a mathematician, I was excited to learn how Prof. Shefrin mathematically included psychological factors in classical models for financial decision-making and analyzed the implications for asset prices.

By Hersh Shefrin,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Behavioral Approach to Asset Pricing as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Behavioral finance is the study of how psychology affects financial decision making and financial markets. It is increasingly becoming the common way of understanding investor behavior and stock market activity. Incorporating the latest research and theory, Shefrin offers both a strong theory and efficient empirical tools that address derivatives, fixed income securities, mean-variance efficient portfolios, and the market portfolio. The book provides a series of examples to illustrate the theory.


Book cover of Sludge: What Stops Us from Getting Things Done and What to Do about It

Enrico G. De Giorgi Author Of Behavioral Finance for Private Banking: From the Art of Advice to the Science of Advice

From my list on diving into the next generation of behavioral finance.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a Swiss researcher and university professor who applies mathematics and psychology to build quantitative models for financial decision-making. Most of my scientific contributions belong to a field of research called behavioral finance, that is, the study of how psychology affects financial decisions. I love mathematics, and I am fascinated by its ability to describe complex mechanisms, including those that generate human behavior.  

Enrico's book list on diving into the next generation of behavioral finance

Enrico G. De Giorgi Why did Enrico love this book?

As a mathematician, I learned that constraints could push us away from optimality. Well, we still seek for optimality, but under constraints we can only be worse off than without. Reading this book, I learned that our life has plenty of unnecessary constraints that Prof. Sunstein calls sludge.

This book was a revelation because I was always tempted to consider misbehavior as a lack of judgment, self-control, etc. However, this book gave me a different perspective. Maybe as human beings, we strive for optimality, but the many constraints out there do not always allow us to act like a Homo Economicus. 

By Cass R. Sunstein,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Sludge as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The New York Times–bestselling author of Nudge reveals how we became so burdened by red tape and unnecessary paperwork—and why we must do better.

“If nudges have a mortal enemy, or perhaps the equivalent of antimatter to matter, it’s ‘sludge’.” —Forbes

We’ve all had to fight our way through administrative sludge—filling out complicated online forms, mailing in paperwork, standing in line at the motor vehicle registry. This kind of red tape is a nuisance, but, as Cass Sunstein shows in Sludge, it can also impair health, reduce growth, entrench poverty, and exacerbate inequality. Confronted by sludge, people just give up—and…


Book cover of Prospect Theory: For Risk and Ambiguity

Enrico G. De Giorgi Author Of Behavioral Finance for Private Banking: From the Art of Advice to the Science of Advice

From my list on diving into the next generation of behavioral finance.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a Swiss researcher and university professor who applies mathematics and psychology to build quantitative models for financial decision-making. Most of my scientific contributions belong to a field of research called behavioral finance, that is, the study of how psychology affects financial decisions. I love mathematics, and I am fascinated by its ability to describe complex mechanisms, including those that generate human behavior.  

Enrico's book list on diving into the next generation of behavioral finance

Enrico G. De Giorgi Why did Enrico love this book?

This book is certainly the most technical among my favorites. However, I cannot resist listing it here because I really love it. Honestly, I highly esteem Peter Wakker, and I learned tremendously much from his scientific papers. Therefore, I read this book with high expectations, and these were fully fulfilled.

I learned from this book what prospect theory is and how it developed. I learned Prof. Wakker’s view on decision theory, and this strongly shaped my personal understanding of many decision-theoretical problems.

By Peter P. Wakker,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Prospect Theory as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Prospect Theory: For Risk and Ambiguity, provides a comprehensive and accessible textbook treatment of the way decisions are made both when we have the statistical probabilities associated with uncertain future events (risk) and when we lack them (ambiguity). The book presents models, primarily prospect theory, that are both tractable and psychologically realistic. A method of presentation is chosen that makes the empirical meaning of each theoretical model completely transparent. Prospect theory has many applications in a wide variety of disciplines. The material in the book has been carefully organized to allow readers to select pathways through the book relevant to…


Book cover of Mixed Signals: How Incentives Really Work

John A. List Author Of The Voltage Effect: How to Make Good Ideas Great and Great Ideas Scale

From my list on changing the world and/or yourself.

Why am I passionate about this?

My passion is using field experiments to explore economic questions. Since the early 1990s I have generated more than 200 papers published in academic journals using the world as my lab. That’s what we do as academics. The problem is that locked away in these journals is an enormous amount of wisdom and insights that can not only help the realm of academia, but also change the world as we know it. The brilliant authors of these books unlock the ideas and knowledge found in the academic papers that are full of jargon and math, aimed towards a narrow audience, and put them in language aimed towards the masses where real change can be implemented.  

John's book list on changing the world and/or yourself

John A. List Why did John love this book?

Many people are now aware of the power of incentives. However, it is not hard to find examples of times when incentives and signals do not align.

Take an example addressed in this book: organizations highlight teamwork but use individual incentives. Incentives and signals can help you achieve your goals, but you must make sure that incentives are signally what you intend.

My co-author of The Why-Axis and many academic papers, Uri Gneezy, combines learnings from behavioral economics, game theory, psychology, and fieldwork to teach you to do just that. You will learn how to ensure that your incentives send the signal that you want. 

By Uri Gneezy,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Mixed Signals as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An informative and entertaining account of how actions send signals that shape behaviors and how to design better incentives for better results in our life, our work, and our world

Incentives send powerful signals that aim to influence behavior. But often there is a conflict between what we say and what we do in response to these incentives. The result: mixed signals.

Consider the CEO who urges teamwork but designs incentives for individual success, who invites innovation but punishes failure, who emphasizes quality but pays for quantity. Employing real-world scenarios just like this to illustrate this everyday phenomenon, behavioral economist…


Book cover of Carrots and Sticks: Unlock the Power of Incentives to Get Things Done

Fumio Sasaki Author Of Hello, Habits: A Minimalist's Guide to a Better Life

From my list on harnessing the power of habits.

Why am I passionate about this?

When I became a minimalist, I found that having less made my household chores so much easier. Before then, I thought I was a loser who lets dirty dishes and laundry pile up. But when my environment changed, what I had believed was my personality also shifted. Once my apartment was tidy, it became a habit to do the dishes right away and vacuum the floor before going out, and my life became consistently enjoyable. But other habits were harder nuts to crack, like quitting drinking or exercising regularly. In Hello, Habits I write about my journey of acquiring these habits through a process of trial and error.

Fumio's book list on harnessing the power of habits

Fumio Sasaki Why did Fumio love this book?

Hyperbolic discounting is a term used in behavioral economics to describe our tendency to overvalue immediate gratification while undervaluing future rewards. When asked to choose between getting (A) one apple a year from now or (B) two apples a year and a day from now, people pick (B). However, if the choice is between getting (A) one apple today or (B) two apples tomorrow, people find (A) more attractive. Why is it so difficult to acquire good habits, like going to bed early or getting important work done, instead of playing with our smartphone? The idea of hyperbolic discounting offers a brilliant explanation, shedding light on the troublesome natures we humans possess. Although that’s not the main focus of this book, it’s still an excellent, easy-to-read introduction to behavioral economics.

By Ian Ayres,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Carrots and Sticks as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Could you lose weight if you put $20,000 at risk? Would you finally set up your billing software if it meant that your favorite charity would earn a new contribution? If you’ve ever tried to meet a goal and came up short, the problem may not have been that the goal was too difficult or that you lacked the discipline to succeed. From giving up cigarettes to increasing your productivity at work, you may simply have neglected to give yourself the proper incentives.

In Carrot and Sticks, Ian Ayres, the New York Times bestselling author of Super Crunchers, applies the…


Book cover of The Myth of the Rational Market: A History of Risk, Reward, and Delusion on Wall Street

Diana B. Henriques Author Of A First-Class Catastrophe: The Road to Black Monday, the Worst Day in Wall Street History

From my list on why today’s financial world is the way it is.

Why am I passionate about this?

When I first started covering Wall Street as a reporter, I faced a steep learning curve. I had always loved history, but I knew almost nothing about the history of Wall Street itself. I started educating myself -- and what began as a utilitarian effort to do my job better became a life-changing passion. Too often, financial history gets written for analysts and academics; it was a rare joy to find writers who told these wonderful Wall Street tales in an engaging, accessible way. That became my goal as an author: to write financial history in a way that could fascinate the general reader.

Diana's book list on why today’s financial world is the way it is

Diana B. Henriques Why did Diana love this book?

Perhaps no academic theory has had a more pernicious impact on how we understand and regulate the markets than the “rational market hypothesis” – the theory that “markets know best” and work best if left alone. Justin Fox explains the rise, the rule, and the ruin of this powerful but fundamentally flawed idea in a remarkably engaging way. A delight to read!

By Justin Fox,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Myth of the Rational Market as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Chronicling the rise and fall of the efficient market theory and the century-long making of the modern financial industry, Justin Fox's "The Myth of the Rational Market" is as much an intellectual whodunit as a cultural history of the perils and possibilities of risk. The book brings to life the people and ideas that forged modern finance and investing, from the formative days of Wall Street through the Great Depression and into the financial calamity of today. It's a tale that features professors who made and lost fortunes, battled fiercely over ideas, beat the house in blackjack, wrote bestselling books,…


Book cover of Getting Price Right: The Behavioral Economics of Profitable Pricing

Jeet Mukherjee Author Of Pricing with Confidence: Ten Rules for Increasing Profits and Staying Ahead of Inflation

From my list on make an impact in your organization through pricing.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been working in value-based pricing for over 20 years and I’ve seen firsthand how it can transform a company’s profits when done right and executed properly through sales. While the specific strategies and tactics vary across industries, company size, and product offerings, many of the foundations and logic behind those strategies can be learned, and must be understood in order to grow a company’s revenue and profit growth in today’s markets. I’d love to connect about any of these topics – feel free to reach out on LinkedIn!

Jeet's book list on make an impact in your organization through pricing

Jeet Mukherjee Why did Jeet love this book?

This book takes a deeper look into the psychology of choices and pricing.

It helps provide more context and understanding around some familiar tactics and what drives buyer’s decisions. While price setting can be a technical activity, leaders need to understand the softer/behavioral skills to sell that price both internally and externally. Both components are important in order to get your pricing right.

By Gerald Smith,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Getting Price Right as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Winner, 2022 Leonard L. Berry Marketing Book Award, American Marketing Association

How do leaders, managers, and proprietors go about the essential task of setting prices? What biases enter into this process, and why? How can a business debias its price setting to become more productive, strategic, and profitable?

Combining perceptive insights from behavioral economics with leading-edge ideas on price management, this book offers a new approach to pricing. Gerald Smith demonstrates why understanding, reframing, and refining everyday pricing processes-a firm's or manager's pricing orientation-results in a better long-term pricing strategy. He explores how pricing actually happens in practice and shows…


Book cover of Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions

Emily Guy Birken Author Of Making Social Security Work for You: Advice, Strategies, and Timelines That Can Maximize Your Benefits

From my list on changing the way you look at money.

Why am I passionate about this?

When I was about 8, I remember taking all the money out of my piggy bank, counting it, and carefully putting it back in again. My sister called me Ms. Moneybags. But I wasn’t worried about accumulating money. I was fascinated by money’s pure potential. I could do anything with it! From that early interest in the potential of money, I grew to be an avid reader of financial books–and that led to a surprise career as a money writer. I still love to think about money’s potential and the best ways to allocate that potential, and I love to bring my readers with me on the fascinating journey.

Emily's book list on changing the way you look at money

Emily Guy Birken Why did Emily love this book?

As of 2023, behavioral economics is no longer a surprising new look at old economics principles–but that doesn’t change just how entertaining, surprising, and challenging you will find the experiments detailed in Predictably Irrational. 

In one notable experiment, Dr. Ariely placed six-packs of soft drinks next to plates of cash inside of communal dorm fridges–to prove we tend to be honest about cash but feel no compunction about swiping someone else’s Coke. In another memorable experiment, male volunteers were asked moral questions when they were in a state of arousal–which helped prove that morals are flexible depending on the circumstances. 

Reading this book will make you realize just how often you make decisions–especially financial decisions–that are weird, illogical, and irrational.

By Dan Ariely,

Why should I read it?

13 authors picked Predictably Irrational as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Why do smart people make irrational decisions every day? The answers will surprise you. Predictably Irrational is an intriguing, witty and utterly original look at why we all make illogical decisions.

Why can a 50p aspirin do what a 5p aspirin can't? If an item is "free" it must be a bargain, right? Why is everything relative, even when it shouldn't be? How do our expectations influence our actual opinions and decisions?

In this astounding book, behavioural economist Dan Ariely cuts to the heart of our strange behaviour, demonstrating how irrationality often supplants rational thought and that the reason for…


Book cover of Nudge: The Final Edition

Linda Ginzel Author Of Choosing Leadership: How to Create a Better Future by Building Your Courage, Capacity, and Wisdom

From my list on leadership that don’t have leadership in the title.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a lifelong educator who believes that everyone can create a better future by changing behaviors, practicing leadership skills, and improving outcomes across time and place—at home, work, and community. If you believe in lifelong learning, join me in elevating the courage, capacity, and wisdom of people everywhere through Choosing Leadership. This book is an accessible, educational tool that provides a structured approach combining individual written reflection with discussion to create collective wisdom in groups. Together, we can change the global conversation about leadership—from heroic mythic beings called “Leaders” to diverse human beings that I call “Champions.”

Linda's book list on leadership that don’t have leadership in the title

Linda Ginzel Why did Linda love this book?

This is the quintessential behavioral economics book by The University of Chicago’s most dynamic duo.

Leadership is all about change and Nudge (not to be confused with the Yiddish word, Noogde) has done more than most any other book to change both the academic world of economics and global practices.

The application of social psychology at the individual, group, and organizational levels is the magic behind the new field of behavioral economics. 

By Richard H. Thaler, Cass R. Sunstein,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked Nudge as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

*Once again a New York Times bestseller! First the original edition, and now the new Final Edition*

An essential new edition revised and updated from cover to cover of one of the most important books of the last two decades, by Nobel Prize winner Richard H. Thaler and Cass R. Sunstein

More than 2 million copies sold

Since the original publication of Nudge more than a decade ago, the title has entered the vocabulary of businesspeople, policy makers, engaged citizens, and consumers everywhere. The book has given rise to more than 400 "nudge units" in governments around the world and…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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