How We Overvalue the Things We Create

Question: Why do we attach more value to things we create \r\nourselves?
\r\n

Dan Ariely: I don’t know if you’ve had the experience of \r\ngoing to IKEA, but I go from time to time and the last thing I did was I\r\n built a toy chest for my kids.  And when I got home with this box, \r\nactually a set of boxes, and I start assembling them, for me, the \r\ninstructions were very unclear, and I kept unscrewing things and \r\nscrewing them wrongly and had to disassemble and put it back together \r\nand so on.  By the end of the day, I worked a lot, it was not a \r\nparticularly beautiful piece of furniture, but I was actually quite \r\nattached to it.  And I think that’s kind of the interesting idea, is \r\nthat when you put a lot of yourself into it, some sweat and energy and \r\nanger and maybe even frustration, you end up loving the end product a \r\nbit more.

So we tried to do this experiments and we got people to\r\n build Legos and origamis and all kinds of things.  And the first thing \r\nwe found was if there was an origami that you built and an origami that \r\nsomebody else built, you think that yours is much, much more beautiful. \r\n Not only is it more beautiful, you’re willing to pay much more for it, \r\nright?  Now the question is why?  You can imagine, I built an origami \r\nthat is uniquely good for me and you, the other origami is not, so it’s \r\nunique to me, it’s not about the fact that I kind of wrongly value it, \r\nit’s just that it has some features that I particularly like.

\r\nSo we asked people to predict how other people would pay for it and \r\nturns out people are really wrong with it.  Not only do we like more the\r\n origami we make, we think other people would love them as well.  And \r\nyou can think about kids like this, right?  I have two wonderful kids, I\r\n love them dearly, I think they’re amazing.  When we go to a party and \r\nthey dance or do something, I can’t believe that any of their parents \r\nwould want to do anything but look in my kids, right?  And that’s the \r\nissue, right?  They are my kids, I think they are wonderful, but, not \r\nonly that, I think that other people should see them as wonderful as I \r\nsee them.  And the same thing happened with origami or with everything \r\nwe make, not only do we overvalue it, we think that everybody will share\r\n our perspective.

And this, of course, creates both opportunities\r\n for better things and opportunities for mistakes, right?  So if you’re a\r\n company and you can create things that people would actually put \r\nsomething of themselves into it and actually value it more, that’s a \r\ngreat thing to do, right?  There’s lot of opportunities for tailoring \r\nand custom made and user designed on the Web.  It’s also about cooking \r\nfor yourself and doing your own garden and fixing things yourself \r\nbecause we might not understand it if we do something of ourselves we \r\nwould like it more, but the fact is, we likely would do the same thing. \r\n But of course, there’s the down side and the down side is if we create \r\nsomething, we end up loving it, perhaps too much, and we don’t see it in\r\n an objective way and as a consequence, we can make mistakes as well.  \r\nAnd that’s actually a general comment about rationality and \r\nirrationality.  Rationality... irrationality is not always bad, it’s not\r\n always that a rational person is better than irrational, it’s a \r\nmixture, right?  It’s really wonderful that we can love our kids so \r\nmuch, that's why they actually get to live and we care about them.  But \r\nat the same time, our blindness to them or to the weaknesses can \r\nactually create some negative consequences as well.

Recorded on June 1, 2010
Interviewed by David Hirschman

Ariely's "IKEA effect": Not only do we like things that we make more than similar things made by others—but we think other people should value them more as well.

Lateral thinking: How to workshop innovative ideas

Don't underestimate the power of play when it comes to problem-solving.

Videos
  • As we get older, the work we consistently do builds "rivers of thinking." These give us a rich knowledge of a certain kind of area.
  • The problem with this, however, is that as those patterns get deeper, we get locked into them. When this happens it becomes a challenge to think differently — to break from the past and generate new ideas.
  • How do we get out of this rut? One way is to bring play and game mechanics into workshops. When we approach problem-solving from a perspective of fun, we lose our fear of failure, allowing us to think boldly and overcome built patterns.

Are these 100 people killing the planet?

Controversial map names CEOs of 100 companies producing 71 percent of the world's greenhouse gas emissions.

Image: Jordan Engel, reused via Decolonial Media License 0.1
Strange Maps
  • Just 100 companies produce 71 percent of the world's greenhouse gases.
  • This map lists their names and locations, and their CEOs.
  • The climate crisis may be too complex for these 100 people to solve, but naming and shaming them is a good start.
Keep reading Show less

Straight millennials are becoming less accepting of LGBTQ people

The surprising results come from a new GLAAD survey.

Photo credit: Clem Onojeghuo on Unsplash
Culture & Religion
  • The survey found that 18- to 34-year-old non-LGBTQ Americans reported feeling less comfortable around LGBTQ people in a variety of hypothetical situations.
  • The attitudes of older non-LGBTQ Americans have remained basically constant over the past few years.
  • Overall, about 80 percent of Americans support equal rights for LGBTQ people.
Keep reading Show less