Mental Model Mondays #6: The IKEA Effect

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Hi friends, hope we’re all keeping well.

For the first time in the series, the mental model I wish to look at today won’t be from the book ‘Super Thinking’, but rather one introduced to me by a fellow blogger, Borden’s Blather, in this post.

I read Jim’s post about the IKEA effect a while ago and found it pretty interesting, and I’ve even recently heard its name pop up somewhere in daily life, so here I am dedicating this week’s MMM to it🙃


This is Wikipedia’s short and sweet explanation of the IKEA effect, which sums it up quite well:

“The IKEA effect is a cognitive bias in which consumers place a disproportionately high value on products they partially created.”

Basically, we prefer and love something more, if we played a part in making it.

Dubbed suitably the IKEA effect, mainly because the phenomenon is usually experienced after building IKEA furniture. Think about it: how many times has the process of building that shelf/desk/wardrobe been so gruelling and hard, yet the ill will all vanished into thin air once the product was completed? You would obviously prefer the product more since it was built using your own blood sweat and tears, rather than if it was pre-built and delivered to you.

We basically value things created using our own efforts, over instant gratification🙃


-A classic example of the IKEA effect is with cooking. If we had a role in making a dish, whether it was by preparing ingredients, helping cooking it or even simply seasoning it, we tend to prefer it over a dish that was made by someone else. Here, we value a product made from the fruits of our own labour, over the alternative!

-We will usually prefer a marketed product if we had a role in its creation. For example, there are many manufacturers and retailers that allow you to customise their product before you purchase it, such as choosing the colours of shoes, allowing children to design their own teddy bear, letting you make a custom design on a shirt, etc. These subtle customisation options allow us to get more attached to product, and thus it becomes more likely for us to buy it. A very sneaky and clever marketing tactic.

And cool, that’ll probably do it for this MMM. The IKEA effect is definitely one of the more interesting cognitive biases out there., in my opinion.

Anyway, stay safe and I’ll hopefully see you in another post 👋🏼

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