Does DYI make us greener?

Cooking your own food makes you more aware of where it comes from and feel more connected to the animals and the land that provides it.  So does it follow that making things yourself, even just putting together an IKEA bookcase, make you more connected to your stuff??  According to an article in the Journal of Consumer Psychology by social scientists from Harvard, Tulane and Duke, it can.  They call it the IKEA effect.

Here’s the abstract:

In four studies in which consumers assembled IKEA boxes, folded origami,and built sets of Legos, we demonstrate and investigate boundary conditions for the IKEA effect—the increase in valuation of self-made products. Participants saw their amateurish creations as similar in value to experts’ creations, and expected others to share their opinions. We show that labor leads to love only when labor results in successful completion of tasks; when participants built and then destroyed their creations, or failed to complete them, the IKEA effect dissipated. Finally, we show that labor increases valuation for both “do-it-yourselfers” and novices.

The take away?  In a consumer society where mostly we pay people to do and make things for us, no wonder it’s so easy to throw things away.  With no sweat equity, it’s no sweat to throw stuff out.

To The Source:

BoingBoing, Testing “the Ikea effect” – why do we value things we assemble more highly than premades?

Journal of Consumer Psychology, The IKEA effect: When Labor Leads to Love


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