Nathalie Jonsson

Science Writer 

Labour Of Love And Love Of Labour


You don’t have to love DYI to love your own creations. In fact you don’t even have to be good at creating to love the things you make. You will prefer your crap to professionally made things any day.

This has been named the ‘IKEA effect’ (No, seriously. It is). This, of course, refers to the fact that you assemble your own IKEA furniture from a flat packs containing all, or at least most, necessary pieces. Being Swedish, I can very much vouch for this feeling. I feel like I have been analysing those instruction pages my entire life. I’ll gladly drag flat packs on London buses across the city to be able to continue the fun at home. I love putting the stuff together and usually I am proud of the end result. The harder you work to create, the more you will like the end result. But completion is crucial. If you make something knowing that you have to destroy it or if you fail to complete the task, you will not feel this emotional attachment.

This is all just a cognitive bias, a bias that your brain is hardwired to follow. The phenomenon has been seen in many species and has been assumed to be a basic characteristic. You actually want to work. Even though people rate their work among the least pleasurable activities, they also rate it among the most rewarding. Successfully completing a task at work (or at home) lets us reach goals, feel competent and long term projects can also evoke emotions of ownership.

If you ever feel unhappy with what you do, maybe you could try approaching every task like a flat pack and focus on looking forward to the rewarding feeling after you finish.

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