The benefits of the Ikea effect
Why do today’s couples not last as long as those of our parents’ time or even worse, those of our grandparents?
The first reason is that we are not necessarily more demanding. The material dependence of women must have been a reason in many cases. That said, there is another element that could be called the possession effect or the Ikea effect. When we get together today, we are a little more mature than we used to be, we meet at an older age. We are looking for people who are mature themselves, it’s like going to a store and buying the perfect piece of furniture to fit in your living room. The salesman delivers it to you and you like it for a while. But one day you decide to redo the walls or change the wallpaper and you suddenly realize that this piece of furniture no longer fits with the new decor. You change it easily because you are not so attached to it. You have certainly experienced good times with this piece of furniture, but all good things must come to an end, you say to yourself, so it is not too difficult to get rid of it.
Now imagine that instead of buying a piece of furniture that is already assembled, you are the one who has to do this task. You collect a box containing all the pieces of furniture and after a few hours of patience and ingenuity, you manage to finalize the assembly. You are proud of yourself, you now consider this object as a kind of work in which you participated. Well, that’s the Ikea effect, you’ve invested time, energy and creativity in shaping an object. Now you will value it more than any other object that looks similar.
This effect explains the longevity of couples of the past generations: each was a bit of a mentor to the other. People evolved over time and became proud of the person they had helped shape. Having in a way generated another person, the attachment is greater since it is no longer only a couple relationship but also it is tinged with a paternal or maternal dimension. A parent does not abandon a child that he has seen grow up before his eyes.
Today, things are very different, we are free electrons looking for the perfect object of satisfaction, often ignoring the mutual influence that we could have in this couple. There is a sort of passage from a craft mentality in which people make their own objects to an industrial era of mass consumption. The profusion creates endless choices to accompany individual changes. A person A at a moment t of a person B while at a moment t+delta he will need a person C. This inability to make the couple the place of a reciprocal evolution taking into account personal aspirations seems to be one of the reasons for the short longevity of current relationships.