The IKEA ProgrammerIKEA effect
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 labor was successful.
- ... there is an effort/result imabalance. Even if the labor was gruesome and the result terrible; we humans tend to justify our effort psychologically. If there is a gap between this effort and the (minor) result we achieved with it, we tend to psychologically justify this gap by simply taking pride in our work, no matter the result.
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. For example it took me years to fully realize the PHP framework I had migrated 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 stuck to my flawed design for far too long.
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)