Prey to temptation: Our struggle with irrational health choices

Dyani Lewis

We all like to think of ourselves as rational individuals — making decisions according to the best available information for a beneficial outcome. But over the past few decades, the burgeoning field of behavioural economics has made it abundantly clear that humans are not always rational beings. In many of the financial decisions we make, we fall victim to the mental short-cuts and ‘rules of thumb’ that govern our behaviour. We end up making decisions that seem to defy logic, and work against our own long-term goals and desires.

Work by Daniel Kahneman and his late colleague Amos Tversky and others that integrated behavioural psychology with economics earned Kahneman the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences in 2002. Researchers are now looking at how the principles of behavioural economics can be applied to fields beyond finance, to understand how we make decisions in other areas of life. And what better field than…

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