Completing DIY projects often gives us a confidence boost and fills us with pride — even when those projects are less than perfect (crooked IKEA furniture, anyone?). Daniel Mochon, a Tulane University marketing professor, explains on NPR that the “IKEA Effect” is a psychological phenomenon that can have wide-reaching implications outside of DIY.
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The IKEA Effect is when we attach greater value to something we make than the same product built by others. That seems natural enough, since the act of creating inspires confidence and pride.
In a series of studies, however, Mochon and his colleagues also found that people who feel incompetent might be more vulnerable to the IKEA Effect, since building your own stuff is a way to “signal to others that you are competent”.
Conversely, if you’re given an esteem boost, you’re not as interested in having to prove your competence and, perhaps, will be more objective about the value of your ideas/creations.
This phenomenon, which we’ve touched on before, really should just remind us to take a step back from our work and make sure we’re not thinking it’s better than it really is due to the IKEA Effect:
Seriously, though, Mochon’s experiments actually have serious big-picture implications. The world over, companies and managers fall in love with their own ideas – and reject better ideas from the outside because they were not designed in-house.
It’s a good reason – and this is true whether you are running a big complicated project involving millions of dollars or finishing a third-grade craft project – to have someone from the outside, who isn’t invested in you or your work, give you some objective feedback before you show your project to the world.
That’s not to say you shouldn’t love that craft project, idea or thing you made. DIY offers a lots of benefits; just be aware of the downsides too.