Discover Your Inner Economist: Use Incentives to Fall in Love, Survive Your Next Meeting, and Motivate Your Dentist [NOOK Book]


Read Tyler Cowen's posts on the Penguin Blog.

In Discover Your Inner Economist one of America’s most respected economists presents a quirky, incisive
romp through ...
See more details below
Discover Your Inner Economist: Use Incentives to Fall in Love, Survive Your Next Meeting, and Motivate Your Dentist

Available on NOOK devices and apps  
  • NOOK Devices
  • NOOK HD/HD+ Tablet
  • NOOK
  • NOOK Color
  • NOOK Tablet
  • Tablet/Phone
  • NOOK for Windows 8 Tablet
  • NOOK for iOS
  • NOOK for Android
  • NOOK Kids for iPad
  • PC/Mac
  • NOOK for Windows 8
  • NOOK for PC
  • NOOK for Mac
  • NOOK Study
  • NOOK for Web

Want a NOOK? Explore Now

NOOK Book (eBook)
$12.99 price

All Available Formats & Editions


Read Tyler Cowen's posts on the Penguin Blog.

In Discover Your Inner Economist one of America’s most respected economists presents a quirky, incisive
romp through everyday life that reveals how you can turn economic reasoning to your advantage—often when you
least expect it to be relevant.

Like no other economist, Tyler Cowen shows how economic notions--such as incentives, signals, and markets--
apply far more widely than merely to the decisions of social planners, governments, and big business. What does
economic theory say about ordering from a menu? Or attracting the right mate? Or controlling people who talk too
much in meetings? Or dealing with your dentist? With a wryly amusing voice, in chapters such as “How to Control the
World, The Basics” and “How to Control the World, Knowing When to Stop” Cowen reveals the hidden economic
patterns behind everyday situations so you can get more of what you really want.

Readers will also gain less selfish insights into how to be a good partner, neighbor and even citizen of the world. For
instance, what is the best way to give to charity? The chapter title “How to Save the World—More Christmas Presents
Won’t Help” makes a point that is every bit as personal as it is global.

Incentives are at the core of an economic approach to the world, but they don’t just come in cash. In fact, money can
be a disincentive. Cowen shows why, for example, it doesn’t work to pay your kids to do the dishes. Other kinds of
incentives--like making sure family members know they will be admired if they respect you--can work. Another
non- monetary incentive? Try having everyone stand up in your next meeting if you don’t want anyone to drone on.
Deeply felt incentives like pride in one’s work or a passing smile from a loved one, can be the most powerful of all,
even while they operate alongside more mundane rewards such as money and free food.

Discover Your Inner Economist is an introduction to the science of economics that shows it to be built on
notions that are already within all of us. While the implications of those ideas lead to Cowen’s often counterintuitive
advice, their wisdom is presented in ordinary examples taken from home life, work life, and even vacation life… How
do you get a good guide in a Moroccan bazaar?

Read Tyler Cowen's posts on the Penguin Blog.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Stephen J. Dubner
Fast, furious, and fun, with great examples of how to apply economic thinking to nontraditional subjects. (Stephen J. Dubner, coauthor of Freakonomics)
Washington Post
Engaging [and] useful.
James Surowiecki
[An] economist who's a wonderfully entertaining writer but also a deeply humane you how thinking better can actually help you live better. (James Surowiecki, author of The Wisdom of Crowds)
Publishers Weekly

Perhaps mindful that the procession of Freakonomics-inspired pop-economics books is becoming a blur, blogger Cowen aims to not "hit the reader over the head with economic principles." Indeed, in his chatty disquisitions, economics often recedes into near invisibility. Few readers will hold it against this charming guide on how "to get more of the good stuff in life." An engaging narrator, Cowen offers idiosyncratic strategies for appreciating museum art, for building "family trust and cooperation," for writing a personal ad, for reading "classic novels that seem boring on first inspection," for surviving torture, for properly practicing self-deception and for most effectively giving to beggars in Calcutta. In the book's most passionate and practical chapter, on food, Cowen explains how, with planning and tactics, we can "eat much better meals" at home and in restaurants, here and abroad. Throughout the book, the author's advice is less counterintuitive than simply surprising (he argues that "the committed foodie should look to regions where some people are very rich and others are very poor"). Even if you don't agree with all of Cowen's cheerfully offered opinions, it's a pleasure to accompany him through his various interests and obsessions. At the least, you'll pick up some useful tips for what to order at upscale restaurants. (Sept.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Library Journal

Cowen, an economist and monthly columnist for the New York Times,attempts to follow the lead of Steven Levitt's superb Freakonomicsand bring economic principles to everyday life-or so the book's promotional material claims. Unfortunately, Cowen deviates quite a bit from economics. While he makes some interesting observations, he spends far too much time preaching and making quips. Among Cowen's better insights is that the purchase of kidnapping insurance in Latin America has normalized the kidnapping trade because kidnappers and the insurance companies have developed mutual trust and a solid working relationship. The book's problem is that there are few such nuggets. Instead, Cowen goes overboard in giving advice, drawn from his own experiences, on diverse subjects such as how to order food in a restaurant, please a spouse, and dress for success. Do readers really want restaurant and personal advice from an economist? Cowen fails to deliver what the book advertises. A marginal purchase only for larger public libraries.
—Lawrence R. Maxted

From the Publisher
"Charming, smart and very, very creative. And it will change your life in the best way: in small steps." —-Tim Harford, author of The Undercover Economist
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781440631085
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 5/27/2008
  • Sold by: Penguin Group
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 1,218,458
  • File size: 343 KB

Meet the Author

Tyler Cowen is a professor of economics at George Mason University. He is a prominent blogger at, the world’s leading economics blog. He also writes regularly for The New York Times, and has written for Forbes, The Wall Street Journal, Newsweek, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, and The Wilson Quarterly.
Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

I Want a Banana; I Buy One     1
How to Control the World, the Basics     11
How to Control the World, Knowing When to Stop     31
Possess All the Great Art Ever Made     47
Look Good at Home, on a Date, or While Being Tortured     79
The Dangerous and Necessary Art of Self-Deception     113
Eat Well, Bananas Aside     139
Avoiding the Seven Deadly Sins (or Not)     163
How to Save the World-More Christmas Presents Won't Work     185
Your Inner Economist and the Future of Civilization     219
References     223
Acknowledgments     235
Index     237
Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
Sort by: Showing all of 7 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 1, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted July 20, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted October 28, 2008

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted November 9, 2008

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted September 26, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted December 16, 2008

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted October 27, 2008

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 7 Customer Reviews

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)