Harvard Business Review has an interesting article about how people tend to value creations that they’ve labored over more than those that they haven’t.
When people construct products themselves, from bookshelves to Build-a-Bears, they come to overvalue their (often poorly made) creations. We call this phenomenon the IKEA effect, in honor of the wildly successful Swedish manufacturer whose products typically arrive with some assembly required.
In one of our studies we asked people to fold origami and then to bid on their own creations along with other people’s. They were consistently willing to pay more for their own origami. In fact, they were so enamored of their amateurish creations that they valued them as highly as origami made by experts.
The article goes on to state that the effect extends to office politics, and managers might see ideas and processes that originate with them as more valuable than those that come from outside.
It contributes to the sunk cost effect, whereby managers continue to devote resources to (sometimes failing) projects in which they have invested their labor, and to the not-invented-here syndrome, whereby they discount good ideas developed elsewhere in favor of their (sometimes inferior) internally developed ideas.
Personally, I’d call this the “Mo” effect, but that’s neither here nor there.
Either way, it’s an interesting argument, and links to the psychological effect of people being blind to their own imperfections while criticizing those same imperfections in others. People seem wired to put worth in something where they understand the labor “cost” involved, whether that cost be monetary, work hours, or otherwise. I think that’s why people put a high price on art (or any creative work, really); it’s something that the man-on-the-street feels incapable of without considerable time and effort on their behalves (whether actually true or not).
How do you feel about DIY projects that you’ve put your heart and soul into? How about projects that you’ve seen as being similar to your own? My personal feeling is to put great worth in artistic works not because I’m incapable, but because I DO understand the labor cost, having produced artwork myself. On the other hand, I see that no one around me has any love for my jokes, but that’s because they think that they just pop into my head, and that I don’t sweat for hours trying to perfect the funny. They’re right, of course, but I’m lot letting anyone think I know that.