The Ikea Effect Applied to Physical Therapy

Perception is an all-too-powerful daily catalyst in our lives. It often operates on a subconscious level facilitating decisions and perspectives that quickly and efficiently leverage levels of happiness and satisfaction. The Ikea Effect describes one of these levers.

So what is The Ikea Effect? Norton, Mochon, and Ariely’s research paper define it as “the increase in valuation of self-made products.” It’s the satisfaction and feeling of acheivement one experiences upon successfully assembling an “assembly-required” Ikea product – chair, table, bed, sofa, etc. Time and effort is invested in hopes of assembling (read “producing”) something of value. According to Norton, et al

labor increases valuation of completed products not just for consumers who profess an interest in “do-it-yourself” projects, but even for those who are relatively uninterested

In terms of Physical Therapy, our “product” is restoration of optimum patient function. The Ikea Effect parlays into physical therapy by highlighting the importance of Active Patient Participation. This concept of Active Patient Participation may be easily lifted from other seemingly unrelated fields. Again, from Norton, et al:

When instant cake mixes were introduced in the 1950’s as part of a broader trend to simplify the life of the American housewife by minimizing manual labor, housewives were initially resistant: The mixes made cooking too easy, making their labor and skill seem undervalued. As a result, manufacturers changed the recipe to require adding an egg; while there are likely several reasons why this change led to greater subsequent adoption, infusing the task with labor appeared to be a crucial ingredient (Shapiro 2004). Similarly, Build-a-Bear offers people the “opportunity” to construct their own teddy bears, charging customers a premium even as they foist assembly costs onto them, while farmers offer “haycations,” in which consumers must harvest the food they eat during their stay on a farm.

Active Patient Participation brews a sense of “ownership” that not only encourages patient responsibility and engagement, but also fosters a sense of empowerment that enhances the value of your service. You are now more than a commodity selling on price, you are a resource based on perceived vested value, via the Ikea Effect.

We value what we build. The link between labor and a sense of well-being and value is both intuitive and abundantly recognized. Move beyond passive “traditional” approaches; merge the Science of Evidence-Based Practice with the Art of Patient Perception. Encourage Active Patient Participation in their rehabilitation (and your practice) to build a sense of ownership through you.

Leverage the Love of Labor to transform and enhance your Labor of Love.

“When you sell on price, you are a commodity. When you sell on value, you are a resource.” – @BobBurg

Sources: The Ikea Effect: When Labor Leads to Love[pdf] by Norton, Mochon, and Ariely.

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The Baloney Detection Kit – Part 2

In Part 1 we highlighted some excerpts from Carl Sagan’s The Demon-Haunted World on what to do when evaluating a claim. In this post we look at what NOT to do and fallacies to avoid. My favorite excerpts:

Ad Hominem: Attacking the arguer, not the argument

Argument from Authority

Appeal to Ignorance: the claim that whatever has not been proved false must be true, and vice versa. Absence of Evidence is Not Evidence of Absence.

Observational Selection: as Francis Bacon described it, “counting the hits and forgetting the misses.”

Non Sequitur: Often those falling into this fallacy have simply failed to recognize alternative possibilities.

False Dichotomy: considering only the two extremes in a continuum of intermediate possibilities. Also known as “excluding the middle.”

Confusion of Correlation and Causation [Cinema says: Allen Besselink’s article on Pathoanatomy provides a perfect and current example of this in the medical world]

Carl Sagan’s Baloney Detection Kit is a fine tool for evaluating any claim. And, you are now better equipped to filter out ambiguous and vacuous statements or arguments and focus on what matters.

Refresh yourself on Part 1 of The Baloney Detection Kit here.

Sources: Carl Sagan’s The Demon-Haunted World,                                                        Allan Besselink’s Blogpost “In Pathoanatomy We Trust – But Should We”

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The Baloney Detection Kit – Part 1

Carl Sagan provided us with “Tools for skeptical thinking” through his “Baloney Detection Kit.” Here are some of my favorite excerpts on what to do when evaluating a claim:

Arguments of authority carry little weight – “authorities” have made mistakes in the past. They will do so again in the future. Perhaps a better way to say it is that in science there are no authorities; at most, there are experts

Spin more than one hypothesis. If there’s something to be explained, think of all the different ways in which it could be explained. Then think of tests by which you might systematically disprove each of the alternatives.

Try not to get overly attached to a hypothesis just because it’s yours. It’s only a way station in the pursuit of knowledge. Ask yourself why you like the idea. Compare it fairly with the alternatives. See if you can find reasons for rejecting it. If you don’t, others will.


Occam’s Razor. This convenient rule-of-thumb urges us when faced with two hypotheses that explain the data equally well to choose the simpler.

Always ask whether the hypothesis can be, at least in principle, falsified.

Control experiments are essential.

In part 2: What the Baloney Detection Kit teaches us NOT to do by avoiding common fallacies.

Source: Carl Sagan’s The Demon-Haunted World

Follow me on Twitter @Cinema_Air