IKEA Furniture, Origami, Your Kids, And Locke’s Theory Of Property…Perfect Together!

by:  Peter J. Gallagher

 There is an interesting post on the PropertyProf Blog called "The IKEA Effect And Locke's Theory Of Property."  While the subject matter is pretty heady and academic, one of the questions it asks is interesting: Do we have a greater attachment to things that we build for ourselves, such as the HEMNES or EKTORP you purchased from IKEA, than things that are built for us by others?  For me, lots of feelings arise when I am putting together IKEA furniture, but attachment is not one of them.  Irritation, frustration, blind rage – yes.  Attachment – not so much.

The video embedded in the post contains an explanation of the "IKEA Effect" by the economist who developed  the theory.  Another example he uses is origami.  (This is particularly close to my heart because my parents never let me forget the time that I tried origami as a child during a visit to the Museum of Natural History and flew into a rage of frustration not seen again until I started putting IKEA furniture together as an adult.)  He conducted a test where he asked the subjects to make origami and then place a value on what they made.  What they found was that people tended to overvalue the origami that they made, concluding that not only did they think it was worth more than origami made others, but also that everyone would think that it was more valuable. 

 The final example he uses has to do with children.  I won't go into detail about it here (spoiler alert: consider whether you would sell your children or buy someone else's children) but it deals with essentially the same issues.  The post ties the "IKEA Effect" to John Locke's theory of private property, but I just thought it posed some interesting things to think about on a summer Friday. 

One thought on “IKEA Furniture, Origami, Your Kids, And Locke’s Theory Of Property…Perfect Together!

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