The Why Axis: Hidden Motives and the Undiscovered Economics of Everyday Life

The Why Axis: Hidden Motives and the Undiscovered Economics of Everyday Life

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The Why Axis: Hidden Motives and the Undiscovered Economics of Everyday Life by Uri Gneezy, John A. List, Eric Martin

Can economics be passionate?… Can it center on people and what really matters to them day-in and day-out.… And help us understand their hidden motives for why they do what they do in everyday life?

Uri Gneezy and John List are revolutionaries. Their ideas and methods for revealing what really works in addressing big social, business, and economic problems gives us new understanding of the motives underlying human behavior. We can then structure incentives that can get people to move mountains, change their behavior—or at least get a better deal.

But finding the right incentive can be like looking for a needle in a haystack. Gneezy and List's pioneering approach is to embed themselves in the factories, schools, communities, and offices where people work, live, and play. Then, through large-scale field experiments conducted “in the wild,” Gneezy and List observe people in their natural environments without them being aware that they are observed.

Their randomized experiments have revealed ways to close the gap between rich and poor students; to stop the violence plaguing inner-city schools; to decipher whether women are really less competitive than men; to correctly price products and services; and to discover the real reasons why people discriminate.

To get the answers, Gneezy and List boarded planes, helicopters, trains, and automobiles to embark on journeys from the foothills of Kilimanjaro to California wineries; from sultry northern India to the chilly streets of Chicago; from the playgrounds of schools in Israel to the boardrooms of some of the world's largest corporations. In The Why Axis, they take us along for the ride, and through engaging and colorful stories, present lessons with big payoffs.

Their revelatory, startling, and urgent discoveries about how incentives really work are both revolutionary and immensely practical. This research will change both the way we think about and take action on big and little problems. Instead of relying on assumptions, we can find out, through evidence, what really works. Anyone working in business, politics, education, or philanthropy can use the approach Gneezy and List describe in The Why Axis to reach a deeper, nuanced understanding of human behavior, and a better understanding of what motivates people and why.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781624068133
Publisher: Dreamscape Media
Publication date: 10/08/2013
Edition description: Unabridged
Product dimensions: 5.76(w) x 4.90(h) x 0.43(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Uri Gneezy was born and raised in Israel, where he learned applied game theory firsthand in the streets of Tel Aviv. Dr. Gneezy is the Epstein/Atkinson Endowed Chair in Behavioral Economics and professor of economics and strategy at the Rady School of Management at the University of California, San Diego.
John A. List grew up in a working-class family in Wisconsin—where his father drove trucks for a living—and learned economics in hobby markets. Dr. List is the Homer J. Livingston Professor of Economics at the University of Chicago. He has been a research associate at the National Bureau of Economics (NBER) for more than a decade and served as senior economist on the President's Council of Economic Advisors for environmental and resource economics.

Read an Excerpt

The sign on the road in the Khasi hills of northeast India had a puzzling message: “Equitable distribution of self-acquired property rights.” We asked Minott, our driver, what it meant.

“I do not work in the rice fields, like most men of my tribe,” he told us proudly. “I work as a translator. And a driver. And I operate a gas station in my sister’s house. And I trade goods at the market. You see! I work very hard!”

We nodded in agreement. He certainly seemed like a natural-born entrepreneur….But Minott’s life was constricted. Many of the things he wanted to do required his sister’s permission, because in the matrilineal Khasi society, women hold the economic power. The sign on the road, Minott explained, was part of a nascent men’s movement, as the men in Khasi society began to articulate their resentment over being treated as “breeding bulls and babysitters.” Here was a parallel universe—one we believed might help us solve one of the most vexing economic questions in Western society, inequality between men and women.

Table of Contents

Foreword Steven D. Levitt, coauthor of Freakonomics SuperFreakonomics ix

Introduction: Getting Beyond Assumptions 1

What Makes People Do What They Do?

Chapter 1 How Can You Get People to Do What You Want? 18

When Incentives (Don't) Work and Why

Chapter 2 What Can Craigslist, Mazes, and a Ball and Bucket Teach Us About Why Women Earn Less Than Men? 32

On the Plains Below Kilimanjaro

Chapter 3 What Can a Matrilineal Society Teach Us About Women and Competition? 49

A Visit to the Khasi

Chapter 4 How Can Sad Silver Medalists and Happy Bronze Medalists Help Us Close the Achievement Gap? 63

Public Education: The $627 Billion Problem

Chapter 5 How Can Poor Kids Catch Rich Kids in Just Months? 91

A Voyage to Preschool

Chapter 6 What Seven Words Can End Modern Discrimination? 108

I Don't Really Hate You, I Just Like Money

Chapter 7 Be Careful What You Choose, It May Be Used Against You! 129

The Hidden Motives Behind Discrimination

Chapter 8 How Can We Save Ourselves from Ourselves? 145

Using Field Experiments to Inform Life and Death Situations

Chapter 9 What Really Makes People Give to Charity? 171

Don't Appeal to People's Hearts; Appeal to Their Vanity

Chapter 10 What Can Cleft Palates and Opt-Out Boxes Teach Us About People's Reasons for Giving to Charity? 146

The Remarkable Phenomenon of Reciprocity

Chapter 11 Why Is Today's Business Manager an Endangered Species? 212

Creating a Culture of Experimentation at Your Business

Epilogue 240

How to Change the World… or at Least Get a Better Deal

Life Is a Laboratory

Acknowledgments 245

Notes 247

Index 257

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The Why Axis: Hidden Motives and the Undiscovered Economics of Everyday Life 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 12 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Walks in im a new recruite
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Hides behind a tree and shoots Hunter in the back.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
(How would I be dead? It's a bullet to the stomach. You can survive that. Plus I stopped the guard.) *The guard pulled te trigger and the gun backfired on him. Last night, several other soldiers and myself had sabotaged the guns in the base by loading the ammo backwards, along with detaching the treads on the tanks and cutting open the fuel tanks on any other vehicles. I grabbed the guard and shoved my combat knife into his back between the third and fourth rib, silencing him. I threw the gate open and ran off into the night.*
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Reporting for duty sir i would like to be in the front line of the navy sir thankyou sir turns around and sits down
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Gtg bbl.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I want to be a medic. It says i jeed to come here before making a bio......
Vegan-Yogi-Master More than 1 year ago
I just got a copy of The Why Axis and it is really good! I like that the authors weave together both the research findings from some behavioral economics studies as well as their own personal stories and explanations of how they came up with the work. It was especially neat to read about how Uri Gneezy came up with the idea to study the impact of fines after being late to pick up his children at a daycare. If you liked Freakonomics, you will like this book!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
My orders were to switch posts im moving tonight
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Book ba<_>be
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I think Hunter is non-existant Dawson. Not to mention inside a building. So ya nice try tho. And dont even bother to shot at me. It wont work.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I died of laughter at your Over 18 joke. I read it before. 17 year olds, "Yeah, l'm over 18." And it's not a lie o.o
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Marches in. Wearing standard gear and with two pistols at his side. Onewith blood marks all over, and one that looks like it was dropped in a bucket of blue paint. Stands at attention. "This ia Ace Parker reporting, Sir! With a request to be leader of a Ground Squad, Sir!" He shouts. (Where do we write a bio?)