46 responses

  1. A Lion
    September 23, 2011

    Yes, I value objects that I make or assemble more than comparable objects that come pre-made. But, I value objects that were made or assembled as gifts for me by friends even more highly than objects I made or assembled.

  2. Richard N. Landers
    September 23, 2011

    You may say that intuitively about yourself, but the data from this study seem to suggest that, on average, people do just the opposite. Although the “gift” element presents an interesting potential moderator – does the intent of the object’s creation make a difference?

  3. Akhil
    September 23, 2011

    This is why home made meals are satisfying. I would even call it spiritually superior to going out and eating.

  4. Richard N. Landers
    September 23, 2011

    That is a very interesting idea, Akhil! But if true, I suspect that is why the cook is typically more satisfied with the meal than those s/he is cooking for!

  5. JH
    September 23, 2011

    This is kind of old news, just applied to IKEA. Cults, religions and other organizations have long known that some “investment” by the new member is key to them valuing that membership, thus initiation rites and qualifications that must be met – which are rewarded with membership AND the feeling of accomplishment AND thus a feeling of ownership. Its usually called “skin in the game” and is why, in a fire, we’d sooner save our own fingerpainting than the Picasso next to it.

  6. Richard N. Landers
    September 23, 2011

    You’re talking about very different phenomena though. Cult influence is a very complex concept and involves many different predominantly social factors driving people to particular courses of action. Initiation/accomplishment as you term it motivates because you suffer; cognitive dissonance suggests that we will eventually feel, “Because I suffered, this result (being in this group) must be worthwhile.”

    This study demonstrates that this sense of personal accomplishment is powerful on its own, without any social influence. I mean, these people were building IKEA boxes and Legos, which are not of high personal meaningfulness. And yet they found greater value in objects they had completed versus ones others had completed and even more surprisingly versus ones they had themselves completed and then deconstructed. The recognition of their creation as a “complete object” is critical to its perceived value – and that is definitely something we didn’t know before.

  7. Jymic
    September 23, 2011

    Interesting observation but I feel there is also another component affecting the IKEA effect. Just not sure what it is. If one were to enter a store to purchase either an outdoor grill or a bicycle I would venture that most people would pay some amount to have the item put together for them. Why IKEA furniture differs in this approach is interesting! Maybe a perceived complexity?

  8. Peter
    September 23, 2011

    I am in the process of rebuilding an old pickup truck and I can absolutely identify with this. So many folks ask me why I would bother with something, which to them is old, beatup and just not worth it, and just go out and by a new vehicle. I always try to explain that I know this vehicle better than they know there’s, and I love the feeling of progressing in my project. Plus, what fun is there in just buying something. There is no work in that. It is a pretty unrivaled feeling driving it down the road, especially after a lengthy repair project.

  9. Noah Vawter
    September 23, 2011

    OK, I think I have found the answer to this question recently in Marshall McLuhan’s writing. A lot of people have been wondering about this question lately, as DIY explodes in popularlity on the Net. McLuhan describes handwriting as the externalization of human memory. In his model, computers are the externalization of human cognition. Finally, networks are the externalization of *consciousness*. The world he predicted is close to ours today. It has a lot of *fragmenting* of consciousness. You write a comment like this and your thought disappears off to a server and other people, and you return to the idea later on. Our conscious is highly fragmented, just like a hard drive.

    However! When you build something yourself, you are investing it with your own *solidified* consciousness. I maintain that there is survival value in a cohesive consciousness. When you build something, you sustain your conscious thought process the whole time, and when you keep that item, you maintain that consciousness with you. This also indicates why handmade gifts, as described above, are so valuable: you are sharing your consciousness with another person. All of their thoughts can be shared with you, and it becomes a kind of *adhesive* consciousness which binds two or more people together.

    Now you ask: what about all the stuff that comes off assembly lines, like my mouse and keyboard? Well, the answer to that can come from the same model. Mass-produced items have no consciousness with them, no state of mind, personal memories, or legible communication is inscribed in the object. Its assembler in the factory makes the object but does not vest it with any conscious value that you can understand without special interpretation- it’s disconnected and *fragmented* away from its maker. BTW, Marx’s theory of alienation corroborates this idea. He wrote, many years ago, that mass-produced goods create *alienation* between their maker and their consumer. It’s that simple. He went into great depth explaining how machines accelerate this alienation or disconnection and talked about many other consequences and took it in the direction of capital. Yet, this consciousness theory of McLuhan’s is a small, easy-to-understand-now-that-I’ve-explained-it part of Marx’s more complex theory.

    Some people don’t mind being alienated from the makers of the products everyday. In fact, probably most. But many people do place special value things that give them memories and keep their consciousness intact. Now, go out and make something! :)

  10. James McInerney
    September 23, 2011

    “If I assigned a student to edit Wikipedia for the better, am I unknowingly increasing that student’s faith and value placed in Wikipedia?”

    I would guess that you’re increasing the student’s faith in THAT wikipedia article. He/she did not contribute to 99.9% of the other articles on wikipedia.

  11. Max
    September 24, 2011

    What I like about IKEA is that I can choose my items and how to personalize them without any salesman involved. Maybe a sense of freedom?

  12. BoringCommenter
    September 24, 2011

    I think it’s pretty simple, and not foolish or mistaken at all. It’s pretty well explained here.

    http://www.ifixit.com/Manifesto

  13. lai
    September 26, 2011

    First time learning about the actual term (IKEA effect) attached to this behavior :)

    I think this will apply just as equally to intangible products/activities like customizing your online profile / identity .. like how facebook is promoting its new “Timeline” feature; this will be the hook.

    And brings to mind this article I just read too!
    http://thenextweb.com/insider/2011/09/10/the-future-of-evernote-from-memory-machine-to-time-machine/

    “.. the new primary driver is love, and what determines the value of your company is how much people love it. As you store more and more of your personal notes, memories and work in Evernote, essentially giving it immense personal value, how can you not grow to love it? Now, that’s a perfect business model.”

  14. London Counselling
    September 26, 2011

    Most of us don’t think in terms of how people value the labor of others. For myself, I have come to detest “do-it-yourself'” kits, although I still “do-it-myself” a lot. Very enlightening.

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