The IKEA Effect
Updated: Jul 16
This is part of our series on biases in the workplace. A full list of bias blog posts can be found here: If you're biased and you know it clap your hands.
Yes, this is an unconscious bias and a really interesting one. Here it is in a nutshell. If you've been involved in creating something, you'll be more biased towards it than other options you haven't been involved in creating.
You'll have an emotional connection with something you had a part in putting together. You got stuck in - you got your hands dirty - you invested time in thinking and developing an idea. Then you feel proud of the result and will defend it. Is it any good? In your eyes - yes. But you're unconsciously biased towards it and irrationally reject alternatives.
But here's the thing. This is certainly an unconscious bias, but turn it around. Getting people you want to influence involved in creating your project, idea or product is a winner. Experience and being involved from the ground up generate buy in.
Think about anything you created recently. Maybe it was a piece of kitset furniture, a presentation, report, project plan, or creative endeavour. You know that feeling: Tada, it's finished - and you feel good. Then somebody comes along and suggests an improvement or points out an error. You feel a bit deflated. You argue for your original. But stop. Is your original that great? Ask yourself: have you succumbed to the IKEA Effect unconscious bias?
I'm a knitter and know the good feeling of finishing a garment. I want my grandson's new jumper to be admired. Anyone pointing out a stitch out of place is met with a glare. At work, if I have an idea, I want others to feel my enthusiasm. When they don't, there's clearly something wrong with them.
Watch out for the IKEA Effect the next time you find yourself defending your creation. Maybe other options are better.