The truth about the IKEA effect: when labor does not lead to love

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Assadi, Peyman
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Managers’ increased interest in exploiting consumers’ labor in cook-your-own-food restaurants and harvest-your-own-vegetable fields is theoretically rooted in a stream of research called effort justification. For many years, research centered on effort justification has focused on the relationship between the effort one puts into a task and the resultant valuation of the task’s outcome arguing that effort increases the favorable valuation (e.g. Aronson and Mills 1959; Alessandri, Darcheville, and Zentall 2008; Lydall, Gilmour, and Dwyer 2010; and Norton, Mochon, Ariely 2012). However, little research has focused on the inverse phenomenon where the effort does not result in a heightened favorable valuation of the outcome. Extending the previous findings, it is asserted that effort does not always increase the favorable valuation of the outcome and it happens only when the effort is not a threatening factor to one’s resources. Results from three studies, one pretest and two main studies, show that threatening labor, the one that is coupled with expectation disconfirmation, reduces the favorable variation of the outcome, while non-threatening labor increases the favorable valuation.
Effort Justification, IKEA Effect