How do you counter the IKEA effect?

Sep 10, 2018 | Business, Newsletter

If you missed the setup (and the sting!), check out my previous post.

Look, mom! I made it myself!

The IKEA Effect

The IKEA Effect is affectionately named for that Swedish juggernaut of home furnishings, where a disposable Allen wrench makes all things possible!

IKEA bias is the tendency to over-value items you have assembled yourself.

The Research

The IKEA Effect was identified and named by a team of researchers from Harvard, Yale and Duke universities. They found that when people were asked to put a dollar value on an IKEA chair they had assembled themselves, and then the same chair that came pre-assembled, they always said that the chair they put together was worth more.

We get emotionally attached to our own projects, the ones that we’ve worked on personally.

Ouch! That one hits home! But we’ve all been there.

  • We can’t paint over the mural I painted in Joey’s bedroom! That’s going to improve our property value!
  • What do you mean we’re losing money on that account? I worked hard to make that contact!
  • I don’t care if CounterGo can draw the Mona Lisa. It can’t be as good as the spreadsheet I worked so hard to create!

While it’s normal to want to protect your ideas, it can blind you to valuable information that could improve a project.

Suggestions for Overcoming the IKEA Effect

Start by noticing the times when you leap to the defense of an idea or project as if it were… precious. Like our friend Bilbo here.

When you notice that your knuckles are turning white as you cling to the steering wheel on a pet project, pull over.


Make a decision to allow somebody else to edit your work or to contribute at least one idea to a new project. And then do it. Even if you’re not convinced that any good will come of it.

To free ourselves from bias we have to look honestly at the things we’ve created, and then compare their value objectively to the available alternatives.

There will always be another use for that Allen wrench!