The IKEA Programmer

I stumbled on an excellent marketing paper titled "The IKEA Effect: When Labor Leads to Love" of Micheal I. Norton, Daniel Mochon, and Dan Ariely.

"When Labor Leads to Love".

Micheal et al. posit the theory people are inclined to overvalue their work if:

The authors explain this "IKEA effect" as coming to value your hard work despite the (objectively) dreadful result. The longer it will take you to assemble the parts of your new closet the more product pride you experience after you've finished it.

The Swedes have already given their name to the Stockholm Syndrome, it only seems fitting one of their best known brands is associated with being a psychological hostage as well.

I've experienced the IKEA effect quite a few times. It took me years to realize the PHP framework I had ported from PHP 4 (a more or less procedural language) to PHP 5 (an object oriented one) was fundamentally flawed. It took months, most of my free evenings and daily headaches to port the thing. And it worked!

I ditched it a couple of years later; I should have done that much, much sooner.

The most damaging about the IKEA effect is it renders you blind for better alternatives. Which reminded me of the following tweet:

"Component strategy?: use what's out there; realise it sucks; write your own; wait until others suck less; dump your own; use other." - Fabian Potencier (author of Symfony)