The IKEA effect

One of the things that services like LinkedIn, Instagram and Facebook do well is creating a place where people can input pieces of themselves. You can create a living online resume or develop a place where you share meaningful moments with your friends and family. By doing this you create a strong affinity with the service itself. It becomes more personal.

This psychological effect is affectionately known as the IKEA effect. It’s playing on the fact that when we add an element of ourselves into a product or service we create an irrational sense of value for the thing we’ve worked on. In a 2011 study, Dan Ariely, Michael Norton and Daniel Mochon measured the effect of labor on how they value things. In a trivial exercise of comparing the value of Origami Frogs, people were asked to create their own paper-based amphibians and then asked to bid on them. They compared the bids on their own, amateur, efforts versus expert made variants and other amateur third parties. The self-made originals were similarly valued as those created by the expert paper-folders. However, those of from the other third-party amateurs were valued at less than 20% of their own masterpieces.

This has been born out in other similar studies.

What this means is that when trying to get people to buy-in to a change, a new product or service, a way of working or a goal, the most effective way is to allow people to impart some of themselves into the work. The more they put in, the more they will see the value.


How might you use the IKEA effect to work better with your users, colleagues or customers?

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