The IKEA Effect

By Anupum Pant

Believe it or not, the liking you have for something is not objectively based on just what the thing is. A great part of it comes from the amount of effort you put in it. The more effort you put in, the more you like something.

To test this out, scientists gave a group of people one sheet each, with instructions on it, teaching them how to fold an origami crane. The people followed instructions well, and did the best they could. Of course, since these people hardly had any experience with origami, their paper cranes didn’t come out too well.

The researchers then showed these cranes to a few independent evaluators and asked them how much they would pay for one of these poorly made origami crane. Evaluator obviously weren’t very interested in buying them and gave the origami cranes a low rating. However, the people who had made these cranes, on an average, rated their work much higher than what the evaluators had rated it. Also, the makers said they’d have paid nice money to buy that poorly made crane, which according to the makers was sufficiently good. [Link to the study]

Ikea is a company that sells furniture parts which buyers themselves have to assemble. Trust me, the assembly is not very easy (of course). Moreover, the instructions they supply with any piece of furniture says nothing in words. There are only illustrations of funny cartoon men putting the furniture together. You sure are able to put together the piece of furniture most times, but there are people I know who after having assembled a bed for hours get frustrated.

But then, in the end comes a strange┬ákind of satisfaction, or a cognitive bias if you’d say, which makes the buyers value their furniture disproportionately more than what they’d have valued the same furniture assembled by someone else (or even a professional maybe).

This is called the IKEA effect.

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