How well can you predict human behaviour?

I was very excited recently to receive my copy of the brand new Irrational Card Game designed by Dan Ariely from Duke University. Very excited for two reasons.

First up, it was the first time I had ever invested in a Kickstarter project. For those of you who don’t know of Kickstarter, it is a funding platform for creative projects. Everything from films, games, and music to art, design, and technology. Kickstarter is full of innovative, and imaginative ideas that are brought to life through the direct support of others.

The creators create a ‘project page’ in Kickstarter which outlines their products or ideas and set a funding goal and deadline. If people like the project, they can pledge money to make it happen. If the project succeeds in reaching its funding goal, all backers’ credit cards are charged when time expires. If the project falls short, no one is charged.

I would strongly recommend checking it out. There are so many amazing projects underway and, for me, it had so much more meaning they just buying a ‘finished’ product, actually helping to bring that product to life through my small investment.

The second reason why I was obviously excited was the game itself.

In the Irrational Card Game, you have to second-guess human behaviour by predicting decisions people will make in unique situations. Below is an example of one of the cards. It gives you a scenario and then a series of options. If you have been dealt the card, you choose your answer and then turn it over to find out if you are correct.

The answers are backed up by research, and what’s also great is that each card explains why we act the way we do, rather than simply telling you if you were right or wrong. There is also an accompanying website that provides links to the research if you want to learn more.


One way I can see myself using these cards is a workshop setting. Giving out a part of the pack to each table group and getting them to play for a period of time, then debriefing on what they learnt about human behaviour and about change.

Two of the key things I would try to bring out is:

  1. Human beings are not rational / logical beings – and therefore using a rational / logical approach to change has little success; and
  2. There is a world of research and evidence out there about how human beings actually behave that very few people (including a lot of change professionals) ever bother to go and find and learn from.

So, two very simple pieces of advice.  If you haven’t been on to the Kickstarter site yet – do, and if you have any interest in learning about human behaviour, immediately go and buy the Irrational Card Game.

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