Comparing Personal vs. Market Value Discussion Questions

Please read the instruction and the rubric carefully, and make sure to meet all the standards. Answers receiving full credit tend to be between 350 and 750 words in length (per question) Average 500 words per question.

There are two required book, one is Ariely, Dan. 2010. Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions (Revised and Expanded Edition). HarperCollins.* Another is Wheelan, Charles. 2013. Naked Statistics: Stripping the Dread from the Data. W.W. Norton Company. These two books are attached.

Reading Range:

Ariely (Chapter 7-10) The High Price of Ownership Keeping Doors Open The Effect of Expectations The Power of Price


• Chapters 7-10

Q1: Comparing Personal vs. Market Value [40 points]

Think of something that you own and are especially pleased to own, like your most comfortable recliner or sofa, your most stylish piece of clothing, or the bicycle that has accompanied you on so many adventures and pleasure rides. How much would you hope to get for this item if you were to sell it? Next, find something comparable (and comparably old or worn) being advertised online (for example, on eBay or Craigslist). How does the price of this item compare to your asking price? Do you think that the price is fair? That is, would you buy the item for that price? Is the seller an individual or a business? Granted that this isn’t nearly as rigorous as the kind of experiments that Ariely describes, what would you conclude about “the price of ownership,” based on what you have found, and how do your findings compare to Ariely’s?

Q2: Balancing the Effect of Expectations [30 points]

How do you feel about the overall role of suggestion, expectation, and the placebo effect in our lives? On one hand, Ariely points to some of the ways in which these can color our judgment and cause us to make bad decisions. On the other hand, he also points to some of the ways in which they can color our judgment for the better, making food taste better, making music sound better, and even making us feel better physically. To what extent, then, is irrationality harmful, and to what extent beneficial? Is it a worthy goal to want to eradicate all irrationality, even in its occasional benefits? Is a firm grasp of reality and rationality more important than the perceived quality of our food, music, and health? Or do we need a bit of irrationality in our lives, because certain parts of life would be less enjoyable without it? Finally, can we sharpen our rationality in some areas (where rationality is beneficial) while being irrational in others (where irrationality is beneficial), or are we bound to go more or less all the way in either direction?

Q3: Poll Analysis [40 points]

Investigate the validity of a poll for yourself, using what Wheelan has taught us about these instruments’ potential biases. Start by finding a recently published poll online. (If you don’t frequent news websites or have a particular issue in mind, an easy way to find a recent poll is to go to a website like, or you can Google something like “new york times poll,” “washington post poll,” “cnn poll,” etc.) State what poll you’re investigating, who carried it out and when, and where it can be found online (with a specific URL). Next, find and read the description of the poll’s methodology, and summarize the sampling methods used to collect the data. Then skim the poll’s questions and evaluate how well some of the more interesting questions avoid bias through their wording. Give three examples, either of bad choices of wording, or of good choices where different wording might have produced biased answers. Finally, evaluate the overall validity of the poll. Does the sampling method seem like it provides a sample representative of the respective population? Are the questions asked in such a way as to promote honest and accurate answers?

Q4: Statistics, the Breakfast of Champions [40 points]

Imagine that you’ve just collected a bunch of data on college students, particularly their eating habits and their performance in school. Because of all that you’ve learned from Wheelan, your sampling and measurement methods are flawless, so now you’re ready to do some hypothesis testing. You’re convinced that college students who eat Wheaties breakfast cereal (the “breakfast of champions”) get better grades than those who do not eat Wheaties. Beyond that, you believe that the more Wheaties a given student eats, the better his or her grades will be. Describe and explain the process of carrying out your test of this hypothesis, step by step, beginning with a null hypothesis and finally stating your findings. (Make up the needed unknown statistics if it makes it easier to describe and explain the process.)

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