Tu Pham
5 min readOct 5, 2019


This post is to structure what I have learnt from recent books.

Some studies say that we can memorize something by writing it down 3 times better than reading, and explaining it to anyone is double. For that reason, I hope that this post — combining both writing and explaining — will help me to impress those things on my (bad) memory :D.

I’m on the third book named “Honest truth about dishonesty” of Dan Ariely — my very favorite author with two other super well-known books: “Predictably irrational” and “The upside of irrationality”. Let’s take a glimpse at his tremendously interesting theories and experiments based on our irrationality and its effects on our way of thinking and decision.

The decoy effect.

Dan Ariely is the father of this famous effect referring to a phenomenon whereby the seller adds a third option into their services/ goods to trigger the customers to pay the most.

Its dramatic example is: when we face 3 options in the cinema, which are buying Popcorn bowl size S with 50K, size M with 70K and size L with 75K, what is our decision? The answer from most of us will be the size L right? (maybe you are an exception but this theory is already proven, so don’t suspect me if I got your answer wrong :D).

In that case, the size-M-popcorn-bowl is the decoy option that the seller rationally offers to push us to buy the size L one costing us just 5K more with the double of size.

May everyone have already got the idea of this so I do not need to go into detail. Just want to remind: don’t forget this when we go to the cinema :D.

Procrastination and Self-control.

Why our diet plan ends up with nothing? Why most of our new year resolution can’t last more than 2 weeks? And all other questions about determination can be answered with the author’s experiments.

It’s proved that if there is an “external voice” which always pushes us to do something, we tend to complete our commitment instead of leaving it uncompleted.

To simplify this, Nas Daily — my favorite vlogger with some million subscribers who made super catching daily videos for 1000 days straight says that: his secret to success is deadlines. By setting deadline to everything as a rule for our behaviors, we can see more clearly what we need to do next and when we need to finish, if we don’t, it’s never.

In conclusion, the advice for our procrastination is setting a deadline for everything, from our books, our goals, to our life. It is the best way to the self-control. (To learn more, go to this link for Nas’s video). Personally, I’m trying to apply this deadlines-rule to my books, and in some ways, it did work!

Another compelling idea I got is about our credit card and saving.

Nowadays, credit card debt is a familiar definition to everyone. People tend to pay more than what we can afford. This is the reason why credit cards become more and more “helpful”. As a result, it becomes the gem for banks by taking all our money and properties, which we can be aware of but come up nothing to do with.

Based on that fact, Dan Ariely offers a precious chance for the banks to make profit and build reputation at the same time: creating a new type of credit card which works in the opposite way to the current one. Instead of triggering people to buy more, it should help them to save more by offer the users a saving plan with good interest rate and benefit.

On customer side, we definitely will be happy and willing to give all the money to the bank helping us to save money, solving our severe problem. On the bank side, there would be a huge available amount of money for them to do business or investment or anything without a single effort for capital call.

Sadly no one did it yet. May I or you should take this idea and do our own business haha.

The endowment effect: why people overvalue their things.

By experiments, scientists have conducted the “toothbrush theory”: we all use the toothbrush everyday but never want to use others. It refers to our tendency to value thing more highly when we put even just tiny effort in creating something: we like our paintings than others, we love our idea than others even they are better than ours.

Everything has two sides, so is the endowment effect. The good one is that it encourages us to dedicate more. On the flip side, it makes us become a stubborn person who only want to work in our way with the very poor teamwork skills (sadly did I find myself a victim of this effect).

It’s not about saying we are good or bad, it’s about how human’s brain works and what we should do to lessen the bad effect and increase the good one. From now on, whenever we do planning, studying, teamworking, let’s undervalue our ideas a little bit to strive for the best results.

Human’s adaptability and the correlation between satisfaction and interruption.

Dan Ariely has proved that we have the surprising adaptability to anything including emotion like anxiety, pain, satisfaction, etc. which shows us a very fascinating idea about how to increase our happiness and decrease the uncomfortable feelings. The study says that interruption will help us to last our good experiences longer and make our bad experiences worse.

Therefore, if we want to be more satisfied with something, interrupting the experience will help. For example: when we are eating a tasty cake, let’s break for a while to take a cup of water then come back to the table, we will find it more delicious because of the brain’s lacking in time for adapting. Relatively, for the bad one such as doing boring housework, just finish it straight away so that our brain has time to get used to the bad feeling which helps us feel better.

This theory also explains why traveling will make us happier than shopping. If we draw a graph, happiness will be in the inverse proportion to the time we own something. When we travel for 2 weeks, then come back to normal life, then take another trip, our brain has not been adapted to the good feelings yet, not to mention there are various types of feelings on the trip. What happen if we buy a new house? Gradually will we get used to the feeling having it then will come the day we don’t feel happy of having a beautiful house anymore.

The point is, investing in intangible assets not tangible ones.

The fear of loss.

This is the last thing in the list so if you are reading this, please continue=)). As its name, this effect based on studies showing our fear of losing something even they have not belonged to us yet such as an award for winning the game. That fear will be the brain’s distraction decreasing our productivity and ability. Dealing with this effect is not simple. However, we can train our brain to be more rational by facing all that fear.

At the end of the day, thinking rationally is what I, you and everyone are striving for, to minimize our regrets and make best decisions.