The 'IKEA Effect': When Labor Leads to Love

34 Pages Posted: 4 Mar 2011  

Michael I. Norton

Harvard Business School - Marketing Unit

Daniel Mochon

Tulane University - A.B. Freeman School of Business

Dan Ariely

Duke University - Fuqua School of Business

Date Written: March 4, 2011

Abstract

In a series of studies in which consumers assembled IKEA boxes, folded origami, and built sets of Legos, we demonstrate and investigate the boundary conditions for what we term the “IKEA effect” – the increase in valuation of self-made products. Participants saw their amateurish creations – of both utilitarian and hedonic products – as similar in value to the creations of experts, and expected others to share their opinions. Our account suggests that labor leads to increased valuation only when labor results in successful completion of tasks; thus when participants built and then destroyed their creations, or failed to complete them, the IKEA effect dissipated. Finally, we show that labor increases valuation of completed products not just for consumers who profess an interest in “do-it-yourself” projects, but even for those who are relatively uninterested. We discuss the implications of the IKEA effect for marketing managers and organizations more generally.

Suggested Citation

Norton, Michael I. and Mochon, Daniel and Ariely, Dan, The 'IKEA Effect': When Labor Leads to Love (March 4, 2011). Harvard Business School Marketing Unit Working Paper No. 11-091. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1777100 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1777100

Michael I. Norton (Contact Author)

Harvard Business School - Marketing Unit ( email )

Soldiers Field
Boston, MA 02163
United States

Daniel Mochon

Tulane University - A.B. Freeman School of Business ( email )

7 McAlister Drive
New Orleans, LA 70118
United States

Dan Ariely

Duke University - Fuqua School of Business ( email )

Box 90120
Durham, NC 27708-0120
United States
(919) 381-4366 (Phone)

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