The IKEA effect – why we love what we do

Image of IKEA by Wikimedia Commons user SbotigAlthough it sounds like another name for flat-pack rage, the IKEA effect is at the heart of hacker culture: it’s the term used for the phenomenon whereby we love something far more if we have made it ourselves.

In a fascinating blog post over on NeoAcademic, psychologist Richard Landers explains recent research that has seemingly proven the IKEA effect – even, as the name suggests, when the only ‘making’ involved is inserting Tab A into Slot B.

“I can attest personally to the power of the IKEA effect,” Landers writes. “We actually purchased an entire kitchen from IKEA, which I assembled and installed myself.  And it is a hundred times better than anything professionals could have made!

“Is this the reason that open source software proponents are so ‘enthusiastic’ about their products while the general market resists them,” he wonders, “because those proponents had a hand in developing them?”

While Landers admits that more research is required to see whether the IKEA effect holds true for complex projects like software development and electronics manufacture, it’s been proven – anecdotally, at least – over and over by the hacker and maker communities.

Making things is fun, and something you’ve made yourself will give far greater satisfaction than something you’ve bought, no matter what the thing.

Image of Ikea Headquarters by Wikimedia Commons user Sbotig, provided under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported licence.

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