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The Why Axis: Hidden Motives and the Undiscovered Economics of Everyday Life    by Uri Gneezy & John List order for
Why Axis
by Uri Gneezy
Order:  USA  Can
PublicAffairs, 2013 (2013)
Hardcover, CD, e-Book
* *   Reviewed by Bob Walch

Uri Gneezy and John List travel around the globe to conduct field experiments that will unlock some of the questions about why we behave the way we do. In their new book, The Why Axis: Hidden Motives and the Undiscovered Economics of Everyday Life, these two academics investigate how the right incentives can move mountains and get people to do what you want them to.

If you are interested in discovering how to close the gap between rich and poor students, stop inner-city violence in schools, determine the correct price for services or products, or unearth the real reasons why people discriminate, this is a book you might want to read.

You might be surprised to learn that a small California vintner discovered that doubling the price of his Cabernet Sauvignon actually increased demand for the wine. More astounding is the study that women are more inclined to apply for a job if the job listing states that the salary is negotiable.

A healthcare insurer found that by actively helping senior citizens with their prescriptions and self-care, they could help those customers stay out of the hospital and their company could save millions of dollars in the process.

An experiment with students showed that if you give them $20 to do well on a test and then threaten to take the money away if their performance isn't up to par, they tend to do better than if you simply bribe them with the same reward.

If you are involved with a non-profit and wish to learn how to encourage people to open their pocketbooks more often, or if you own a business and would like to know how to improve the productivity of your staff, this is a book you'll want to read.

At the heart of this book is the authors' anthropological approach that means going beyond the laboratory and getting away from the keyboard to visit the real world and observe people behaving in their natural environment.

When researchers, armed with the methods Gneezy and List present, go out into the streets, they 'discover things that turn previous theories and assumptions on their heads'.

The authors tackle some big, complex problems but their approach makes this book accessible to the general reader. Their narrative is filled with colorful anecdotes which make reading The Why Axis fun as well as very informative.

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