The IKEA Effect

Norton featured work image

Many people, drawn in by attractive displays and subtle lighting, are swayed to purchase home goods from IKEA, only to become frustrated by the assembly process. But what if the assembly process causes us to value and find greater satisfaction in the final product? This question, and broader questions surrounding the psychology of investment, forms one pillar of scholarship by Michael I. Norton, Associate Professor of Business Administration at the Harvard Business School. In his article "The IKEA Effect: When Labor Leads to Love," Norton, along with Daniel Mochon and Dan Ariely, discusses how self-created products can lead consumers to greater feelings of competence and value. In one experiment reported in the article, participants were asked to value (in the form of a monetary bid) an origami creature of their own making and one made by an expert. Creators were willing to bid much higher for their own creation over the arguably better product.

Professor Norton's other work focuses on social norms regarding people's behaviors and attitudes, an example of which was featured in a recent NYT article. Over 20 articles by Professor Norton are available in DASH.