There is a tendency for people to love their own ideas.

Not necessarily because the ideas themselves are better than others, but instead because of the work which people put into developing them.

As a result, they are often disappointed when other people do not care as much about their ideas as they do.

This is partially down to a cognitive bias which most of us suffer from called the IKEA Effect.

The IKEA Effect results in people placing a disproportionately high valuation on things which they partially created, even if they are worse than higher-quality alternatives produced by someone else. The name comes from IKEA furniture, which almost always requires the customer to assemble it themselves.

The bias made waves when the research was first published in 2011, showing how people would place a higher valuation on things they produced. For example:

  • People who build a box from IKEA were willing to pay 63% more for it than someone who was just shown the final box
  • People who made origami figurines of cranes or frogs were willing to then buy those for nearly 5x what someone who was shown the results was willing to pay (as the participants’ output was rated as very amateurish compared to expert origami examples).
  • The people who made those origami figurines also thought that non-builders would pay the same amount as they would for their creations, which was the same as the output of experts

So people seem to place an unrealistically high value on something after they successfully created it.

Additionally, they think that other people who were not involved in the creation of it will see the same value they themselves do.

This helps to explain why people are often shocked when they spend time working on an innovation or idea, only to find that their potential customers are not nearly as interested as they had thought.

There was however another interesting insight from the research experiments: people only experience the IKEA effect if they complete the work.

Two further experiments showed that if you stop someone before they have completed the assembly task for an IKEA box (leaving it incomplete), or ask them to disassemble their creation once it is done (e.g. with LEGO sets), they are then much less willing to want to pay a disproportionately high price for the incomplete final product.

So people working on an innovation or creative idea are also less likely to put too high a valuation on their work if they feel like it is not “done”.

Knowing about the IKEA Effect is valuable for anyone trying to bring a new idea to the world, whether it is getting support for an innovation project at work, a new product launch or an artistic creation. Understanding that other people do not see your creation the same way you do, because you place value on the work it took to create it, can remove a lot of the heartbreak that comes with launching it to the wider world.

Did you know that scientific evidence shows your creativity decreases over time

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Creativity & Innovation expert: I help individuals and companies build their creativity and innovation capabilities, so you can develop the next breakthrough idea which customers love. Chief Editor of and Founder / CEO of Improvides Innovation Consulting. Coach / Speaker / Author / TEDx Speaker / Voted as one of the most influential innovation bloggers.