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  • Writer's pictureRon Budd

OUR RESPONSE TO DAN ARIELY (new edit, the secret text source revealed)

Updated: Nov 28, 2023


Okay so this is the first time I have ever listened to Dan Ariely. I thought his presentation was thoughtful. I’ll try and zero in on some of his key statements that resonated with me and then I’ll correlate it with samples from my recent readings. Lastly, I’ll give my somewhat cynical opinions about this apparatchik's argument. Dan’s basic premise presented in his infamous TED talk is that people choose their careers for more reasons than financial compensation and we should be aware of this. Well, first of all I must admit, I thought some of his stories were a little hard to follow. I also think it’s interesting to note that this guy isn’t in business and has never been. Nevertheless, after listening to his speech I was compelled to consider his argument.

I’ll start off by mentioning one of the statements made by Dan that particularly moved me. It is the following, “The bad news is that ignoring the performance of people is almost as bad as shredding their effort in front of their eyes” (Ariely, 2012, 11:55).  I do agree that people need to be encouraged and recognized for their efforts and achievements. Nobody wants to be ignored or see their work destroyed right before their eyes. I do agree with that.

However, towards the end of the presentation, I got the impression that Mr. Ariely is a bit of a Marxist sympathizer. He mentioned some crypto-positive statements regarding Marx. He tried to correlate Marx’s ideas with his general premise related to motivation. For example, right after mentioning the Marxist idea regarding a laborer’s connection to what is produced, he said:

"The good news is that if we added all of those components and thought about them -- how do we create our own meaning, pride, motivation, and how do we do it in our workplace, and for the employees -- I think we could get people to be both more productive and happier. "(Ariely, 2012, 19:49)

Listening statements like that gave me an overall impression regarding Dan. I think he is a paradigm shifter. He seems to be trying to change people’s ideas (and managers’ ideas) regarding why people work. After thinking about  his whole argument in its aggregate and considering a few of his statements more critically: I partially agree with his premise.

Moreover, people can enjoy and do need to enjoy the efforts and products of their labor. That is true. However, the problem with Ariely’s argument is he overestimates the soul and mind of the average citizen. To put it plainly, most people don’t really care what type of work they do or what they produce regardless. Sure, he did some loose experiments, but hardly enough to merit any concrete conclusions. I just don’t think the average person cares about issues like finding meaning in the workplace. And most people don’t look for or plan a career. I think most people just go out and find a job.  Anyways, that’s just my opinion.

Okay so here I’ll provide some secret textbook correlations with Dan and the author’s ideas. I’ll do this so as to provide an opportunity to deliver a bit more criticism of his argument. I am going back and drawing from a chapter in a secret text I'm currently studying. In Chapter 7 page 204 of that text there is a section on performance appraisal that seems to support Ariely’s ideas regarding people’s need to basically feel good and fulfilled about what they do. The authors mention how people want to know how their bosses think about their performance at work. This all ties in with his idea that people need to feel pride in their labor and get a sense of identity through their work et cetera (Gomez-Mejia et al., 2020). I would argue most employees want to stay as far away from management as possible. Interacting with management is viewed as stressful and fraught with potential negative outcomes. Seriously, who wants to spend any more time with their boss than they have to?

Chapter 8 of my secret text invokes terms like career development (Gomez-Mejia et al., 2020). I see career development as training minus all the existential ideas related to existence and personal development. Of course, I’m sure Ariely would readily use the term career development. For me and you (me first) getting more training gives me an opportunity to get a promotion and higher pay. I think that’s probably true for most people. I mean seriously, how many people get MBAs out of a desire to achieve their maximum positive and productive existential development?

Finally in terms of using secret text correlation as a platform to present my discordant ideas regarding Dan’s overall argument I’ll refer to page 276 in Chapter 9. Here there’s an interesting section on self-development. Specifically, the authors mention the three domains of a successful career.  In this section the authors are conveying an idea of applying a holistic approach to life and work (as if the two aren’t inseparable). I think this kind of ties in with Ariely. He argues that people aren’t strictly motivated by money. The authors are also kind of describing something that complements Ariely’s ideas.  The authors stress the idea of the three domains. Within the 3 domains money is only one factor in a person’s career choice (Gomez-Mejia et al., 2020). Here again I don’t think the average person considers such a thing as what makes a successful career or ideas like work life balance. I even think most people don’t consider how much money they would like to make or need to make at a job. In sum his presentation seemed typical of the farfetched ideas presented by most post Marxist idealists in academia.






Ariely, D. (2012, October) What Makes us Feel Good About our work? [Video] TED,

 Gomez-Mejia, L. R., Balkin, D. B., Cardy, R. L., & Carson, K. P. (2020). ManagingHumanResourceManagement9thEdition (9th ed.). Pearson.

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