The IKEA Effect: I Love It If I Do It!

The IKEA Effect: I Love It If I Do It!

During the pandemic, we tried to do stuff ourselves at home instead of buying many things ready. Sometimes we did not trust what we bought from outside, and sometimes we occupied ourselves with them to pass the time. Well, can our efforts to do something increase the feeling of happiness we will get as a result of that work?

This doesn’t seem quite right at first glance because we all want to achieve results with minimum energy. For example, you may spend hours and energy on a meal you cook at home, but you can order it with a single button. So you only spend energy on opening the door after the knocks. The latter seems much more preferable, doesn’t it?

But we cannot say that it has such an effect on human psychology. For example, you can understand this better if you go to the kitchen with the people you love and prepare meals for hours. The food you’re preparing will probably taste better to you, even if it tastes pretty normal to someone who wasn’t involved in the preparation.

Or we all know that famous ad. The girl who bakes the cake with her father tastes the cake and asks the famous question: “Where did my father learn how to make a cake like this?” But was it the ingredients or her father’s dexterity that made the cake beautiful, or was it the girl’s contribution to that cake?

Today we’re going to talk about a psychological effect that shows that your influence on the cake affects the taste just as much as what’s in the cake.

What is the Ikea Effect?

The Ikea effect says that when we add something of ourselves to something we’ve prepared, we feel more of our own. The less you mess with something, the less you love it. We can sum up the Ikea effect in one sentence: “If I do it, I like it more.”

Ikea Effect
Ikea Effect
Image Source (modified)

Let’s try to understand this effect better with examples:

IKEA: Put the pieces together!

Our first example -as you might have guessed- is IKEA, the world’s largest furniture retailer since 2008. Almost all of the products sold by this giant company in the sector are in parts. It’s up to you to make that product a whole.

For example, instead of buying a bookcase from IKEA as a whole, you buy it in dozens of pieces placed in a box. Inside this box, there are tools such as screws and hex rings that allow us to combine all the pieces. In this way, when you come home, you assemble the pieces and create your library by following the instructions inside the box, often without the need for a carpenter’s help. After completing your library, take a few steps back and proudly say, “I made this library!”. We can say that this sense of belonging is one of the most important factors in Ikea’s success.

ikea 1376853 1920

Betty Croker: The Power of the Egg

Another example is a company called Betty Croker, which produces ready-made cake ingredients. In the early 1950s, a food chemist named Arlee Andre, who worked at Betty Croker, launches a product that is supposed to be revolutionary. They managed to add the powdered egg into ready-made cake recipes. In this way, it is enough for someone to open the package and add water and throw it in the oven to make a cake.

While it is expected that sales will increase as a result of this great convenience, the opposite effect occurs. Making cakes is so easy that people cannot own the cake they make. This recipe, which is made with almost no effort, is considered an insult, especially among housewives. As a result, sales of products fell significantly.

The power of the egg
The power of the egg

When this situation was understood, the company removed the egg from the ready-made cake recipe. Now it was necessary to add the egg separately to the mixture to make the cake. This situation enabled the housewives to embrace their work and the sales increased.

This idea of ​​”taking a part in something” is a good example of loving something more as we put in more effort.

Puzzle and Lego

For example, we often buy jigsaw puzzles instead of buying oil paintings. We spend hours, sometimes even days, doing a jigsaw puzzle. Similarly, LEGO has built a huge empire in the toy world. One of the reasons why these products attract so much attention is the IKEA effect.

puzzle image

DIY Concept

The concept of Do It Yourself is very popular all over the world. According to Statista’s research in 2020, the “5-Minutes Crafts” Youtube channel, which is one of the pioneers of this field, is the 5th channel with the most subscribers worldwide

It’s not just for financial reasons that people want to make things themselves instead of buying them. The IKEA influence has an important role in the success of these concepts.

YouTube channels with the most subscribers
Youtube channels with the most subscribers
Image Source: Statista

Yes, it is true that when we do something ourselves, we get more pleasure from it. But of course, there is a limit to this effect. Dealing with something causes the value we attach to that thing to increase, but if the time we spend on that thing is too long, this effect is reversed. In other words, we lose our enthusiasm for that thing and leave the job halfway through. In other words, if we put too much effort into something, the pleasure we will get decreases.

Let’s consider the example of ready-made cake again. Adding eggs only gives us a feeling of satisfaction and does not hinder practicality. However, if only flavoring comes out of the package and you have to add ingredients such as flour, milk, eggs, sugar, oil, and baking powder, the time you will spend will increase and this job will not be as enjoyable as it used to be. Therefore, the correct adjustment of this psychological effect is very important for the success of marketing strategies.

References and Further Readings

Buchholz, K., & Richter, F. (2020, July 09). Infographic: The youtube channels with the most subscribers. Retrieved February 26, 2021, from

Mortimer, G., Mathmann, F., & Grimmer, L. (2021, February 16). The IKEA effect: How we value the fruits of our labour over instant gratification. Retrieved February 26, 2021, from

Norton, Michael I., Daniel Mochon, and Dan Ariely. 2012. “The IKEA Effect: When Labor Leads to Love.” Journal of Consumer Psychology 22 (3) (July): 453–460.

Statista Research Department. (2021, February 2). Topic: IKEA. Retrieved February 26, 2021, from

You can access the sources of the images used by clicking on the images.

The proofreading has been done by Asu Pelin Akköse and Mete Esencan.

Would you like to support us? 

  • If you wish, you can support us by making a monthly or one-time donation via our Patreon account.

I Would Like To Support You!

  • For more detailed information, you can check our “Support Us!” page!

Mete Esencan

Hello everyone! I'm Mete Esencan. I am a graduate student in the Department of Chemistry at METU. I was planning to establish a platform by combining the research knowledge I gained during my basic science education and the management experience I gained in the METU Chemistry Society, which I was in charge of for three years. For this purpose, in February of 2021, I took the first step and established the OkButWhy, a platform where we can write articles as if to chat about science, art and philosophy. I wish everyone a pleasant reading!

Related Articles

Back to top button