Here's why Ikea's great innovation was foisting furniture assembly onto its customers

The "Ikea effect" is a cognitive bias in which you overestimate the value of something that you had a hand in creating. It's why people try to sell their used IKEA furniture on Craigslist for way more than any reasonable person would pay. And it's also why we feel a real sense of pride over a generic bookshelf that we spent a few frustrated hours screwing together.

"Labor alone can be sufficient to induce greater liking for the fruits of one's labor: even constructing a standardized bureau, an arduous, solitary task, can lead people to overvalue their (often poorly constructed) creations," wrote the cognitive psychologists who studied and named the Ikea effect in 2011.

But it wasn't really psychological manipulation that drove Ikea to foist furniture assembly onto its customers. In the video above, Phil Edwards shares that the company's 1953 decision to go with flatpack furniture was a response to other interesting business challenges.

image: Ovidiu Dugulan/