[Day 70] The IKEA effect and the writer’s disillusion

I have just finished reading Dan Ariel’s book “Predictably Irrational” and it haunts me. The ideas he presented in the book are not new, but it was fascinating in a way that he found a way to measure things so abstract such as distrust, honesty, and the effect of horniness on our decision making. One of the things that made me think about a lot in this book is the IKEA effect.

The IKEA effect is a term coined by Dan Ariely and his colleagues to describe to a cognitive bias in which consumers place a disproportionately high value on products they partially created. For example, Dan liked the pieces of furniture he assembled himself a lot more than other pieces of furniture in the house, or people who made some origami are willing to pay 5 times more for those than people who didn’t make them, or we always think our kids are much better than our neighbors’ kids because we raise them. In short, we love something more just because we make it, even just partially.



So what does this mean to me as an aspiring writer? I write a lot, and because I write them, I overvalue them. What I think of as a masterpiece is probably a pile of crap to someone else, and that someone else will be too polite to tell it to my face. Then how can I overcome this bias to objectively evaluate my writing?

One tip I got from Stephen King’s book, “On Writing“, is this: after you finish writing a story, let it sit in the dark for a few weeks, or months, then come back to it when you’ve forgotten about it. By that time, hopefully you have lost the sense of ownership and attachment to the story and can read it with an objective eye. It seems to have worked for me in the past. Often, when I come upon a story I wrote a long time ago, I cringe reading it.

That’s the only solution I know. If you know of another way to overcome the bias, please let me know. Thank you very much.

[Day 70] The IKEA effect and the writer’s disillusion

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