Dan Ariely

Dan Ariely

James B. Duke Distinguished Professor of Behavioral Economics

External Address: 
American Tobacco Campus, Strickland Bldg., 334 Blackwell St. Suite 320, Durham, NC 27701
Internal Office Address: 
Box 104117, Durham, NC 27708


HI, I'M DAN ARIELY. I do research in behavioral economics and try to describe it in plain language. These findings have enriched my life, and my hope is that they will do the same for you.

My immersive introduction to irrationality took place many years ago while I was overcoming injuries sustained in an explosion. The range of treatments in the burn department, and particularly the daily “bath” made me face a variety of irrational behaviors that were immensely painful and persistent. Upon leaving the hospital, I wanted to understand how to better deliver painful and unavoidable treatments to patients, so I began conducting research in this area.

I became engrossed with the idea that we repeatedly and predictably make the wrong decisions in many aspects of our lives and that research could help change some of these patterns.

A few years later, decision making and behavioral economics dramatically influenced my personal life when I found myself using all of the knowledge I’d accumulated in order to convince Sumi to marry me (a decision that was in my best interest but not necessarily in hers). After managing to convince her, I realized that if understanding decision-making could help me achieve this goal, it could help anyone in their daily life.

Irrationally YoursPredictably IrrationalThe Upside of Irrationality,The (Honest) Truth About Dishonesty, the movie Dishonesty and the card game Irrational Game are my attempt to take my research findings and describe them in non academic terms, so that more people will learn about this type of research, discover the excitement of behavioral economics, and possibly use some of the insights to enrich their own lives.

In terms of official positions, I am the James B. Duke Professor of Psychology and Behavioral Economics at Duke University and a founding member of the Center for Advanced Hindsight.

My free time is spent working on a guide to the kitchen and life—Dining Without Crumbs: The Art of Eating Over the Kitchen Sink—and of course, studying the irrational ways we all behave.

Education & Training

  • Ph.D., Duke University 1998

  • Ph.D., University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill 1996

  • M.A., University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill 1994

  • B.A., Tel Aviv University (Israel) 1991

Ainsworth, Sarah E., et al. “Ego depletion decreases trust in economic decision making.Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, vol. 54, Sept. 2014, pp. 40–49. Epmc, doi:10.1016/j.jesp.2014.04.004. Full Text

Chan, Cindy, et al. “Moral Violations Reduce Oral Consumption.Journal of Consumer Psychology : The Official Journal of the Society for Consumer Psychology, vol. 24, no. 3, July 2014, pp. 381–86. Epmc, doi:10.1016/j.jcps.2013.12.003. Full Text

Sharma, E., et al. “Financial deprivation selectively shifts moral standards and compromises moral decisions.” Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, vol. 123, no. 2, Mar. 2014, pp. 90–100. Scopus, doi:10.1016/j.obhdp.2013.09.001. Full Text

Schwartz, Janet, et al. “Healthier by precommitment.Psychological Science, vol. 25, no. 2, Feb. 2014, pp. 538–46. Epmc, doi:10.1177/0956797613510950. Full Text

Ansher, Cara, et al. “Better medicine by default.Med Decis Making, vol. 34, no. 2, Feb. 2014, pp. 147–58. Pubmed, doi:10.1177/0272989X13507339. Full Text

Mazar, N., et al. “True context-dependent preferences? The causes of market-dependent valuations.” Journal of Behavioral Decision Making, vol. 27, no. 3, Jan. 2014, pp. 200–08. Scopus, doi:10.1002/bdm.1794. Full Text

Norton, M. I., et al. “The not-so-common-wealth of Australia: Evidence for a cross-cultural desire for a more equal distribution of wealth.” Analyses of Social Issues and Public Policy, vol. 14, no. 1, Jan. 2014, pp. 339–51. Scopus, doi:10.1111/asap.12058. Full Text

Himmelstein, David U., et al. “Pay-for-performance: toxic to quality? Insights from behavioral economics.International Journal of Health Services : Planning, Administration, Evaluation, vol. 44, no. 2, Jan. 2014, pp. 203–14. Epmc, doi:10.2190/hs.44.2.a. Full Text

Mann, Heather, et al. “Everybody else is doing it: exploring social transmission of lying behavior.Plos One, vol. 9, no. 10, Jan. 2014, p. e109591. Epmc, doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0109591. Full Text

Morewedge, C. K., et al. “Focused on fairness: Alcohol intoxication increases the costly rejection of inequitable rewards.” Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, vol. 50, no. 1, Jan. 2014, pp. 15–20. Scopus, doi:10.1016/j.jesp.2013.08.006. Full Text