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Day 9: The 'zara hatke' IKEA Effect

Origami experiment (Builder and Evaluator). PC: Google Images

Have you heard of 'The IKEA Effect' ?

For those who do not know much about it, here is a brief statement about what it means and its relevance. I am sure you must have heard of the largest furniture retailer IKEA (For those interested in more, IKEA stands for Ingvar Kamprad Elmtaryd Agunnaryd.The first two parts are the founder's full name, followed by his place where he grew up, and finally his hometown). IKEA sells furniture (their USP) and a lot of other products relevant for setting up a house . Most of the products are sold in parts (in fact most other retailers here in the US do the same too) and the final piece is usually assembled by the customer (all by themselves). There is usually an instruction booklet provided to help set it up.

So, why is it called an IKEA effect? This term is used to define the way in which people value a product when it is self-made. In a series of studies, conducted by researchers from Harvard and Duke, it was found that people value their 'do-it-yourself' product, ignoring the fact of how bad it looked. For this study, the researchers used different props to study the groups. They used IKEA kits, LEGOs and Origami sets. The reason why these participants appreciated their own product (however bad they made it) and felt that evaluators (or others in general) will also appreciate it the same way as they do, is because, these products were like a signal to their competence to self and others (Mochon, Norton, and Ariely 2012)

Other studies that followed this research, showed how people valued their product based on how much their labor was appreciated. May be that is why we call it the fruits of labor. It is always as sweet as the fruits! As we work hard to reach our goals, we struggle. There are times we want to quit (there are so many instances that all I ever wanted to do was just leave everything and run away!). Nevertheless, if people move forward and if their labor is appreciated, they progress further with more vigor and joy. They also value their work better.  The beauty of acknowledgment !

Similarly, while teaching students, there is a very interesting research data on how or what a student appreciates in a good instructor/professor.  Contrary to what people think,  research proves that students value classes where they are expected to work hard to understand the subject. Of course, as a professor/instructor, your responsibility is to also appreciate and encourage their attempts and show them their direction, if they are wrong. So, to be a better instructor/professor, one need not be a very lenient or a happy-go-lucky professor. We have to make sure we challenge the students well enough for them to appreciate themselves and their competence.

Don't you agree?

Final thoughts on this for fun (in fact, I think this is surely interesting). As I was thinking about this the other day, a thought struck my mind. Aren't we always told (be it in any religion) that God loves us the most and will always forgive us if we are honest and nice to Him. Don't you see the IKEA effect there ? He/She is our builder/creator, so, He/She values us much higher than what we deserve and ignores our faults. :), or do you think we have given that status as we as builders or creators always value our own creation better, so we assume that as a creator everyone does!

Just some food for thought!


Mochon, Daniel, Michael I. Norton, and Dan Ariely. "Bolstering and restoring feelings of competence via the IKEA effect. "International Journal of Research in Marketing 29, no. 4(2012): 363-369
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