Menus Subscribe Search

Follow us


A Labor of Love, or Love Via Labor?

• February 12, 2013 • 9:20 AM

That’s a fine IKEA bookshelf you’ve made there, and those crooked shelves are actually just the way an artisan would inject some charm! A look at the IKEA Effect—plus, six other deadly sins in the news this week.

Pride

Do you find yourself showing off that recently constructed wardrobe? Maybe the shelves don’t line up and you would never place the vase holding grandmother’s ashes on one of them, but you built it with your own two hands and love it like people love their ugly dogs. If this rings true, you might exemplify the “Ikea Effect”—the idea that labor itself leads to love.

NPR’s Shankar Vedantam reported this week on work by researchers from Harvard, the University of California, San Diego, and Duke who examined why, when people assembled IKEA products, their DIY attempts gave them a surge of confidence. Participants sometimes felt their craft-by-numbers work rivaled that of experts, and were disappointed when others did not share this perception. (The “IKEA Effect” quickly dissipated in cases when their creations fell apart.) The builders’ affection for their creations, the academics suggest, follows not from the innate perfection of say, a Poang chair, but from the effort that went into making it.

This pride felt by screwdriver and glue laden consumers may explain the popularity of the Swedish retail powerhouse–the act of constructing brings us back for more.

Lust

Speaking at the 24th APS Annual Convention, professor Elaine C. Hatfield offered some insights on the notion of passionate love – such as we can watch it using fMRI technology. The euphoria of love lights up the same brain areas illuminated by another obsession–drug addiction.

Gluttony

Did fiscal cliff woes have you grabbing for a bag of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos? Blame your impulsive brain. A new study claims that a perception of tough times is accompanied by seeking out junk food. When our primal “live for today” impulses are triggered, study participants consumed 40 percent more food than they would in a more neutral state. And not just any food — when researchers told their subjects their snacks were low-calorie, they consumed roughly 25 percent less.

Greed

You might think fewer hunters would be good for ducks, but federal funding to buy and lease their habitat is dependent on the revenue raised by selling duck stamps (the license needed to hunt). But with duck hunting losing its popularity, Mark Vrtiska of the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission predicts $14.3 million may be lost annually compared to the current take. A tough break for the ducks, and certainly a tough call for wildlife advocates.

Sloth

It’s a claim cubicle-hating environmentalists have been hoping for–vacations may slow global warming. The Center for Economic Policy and Research claims that by switching to a “more European” work schedules–meaning fewer hours in the office and more hours sipping wine in the countryside—the world could prevent half of the expected temperature rise by 2100. How? As businesses that consume lots of energy reduce their hours, fewer greenhouse gases will be generated. While there may be a few bones to pick with the thesis – telecommuting, anyone– but you might still bring it up at the next staff meeting.

Wrath

New research from the University of New Hampshire reveals that abusive bosses not only affect their targets, but also everyone else in the office. The negative work environment has a “second hand” effect on the co-workers of the tormented; vicarious abuse leads falling morale in the workplace and may lead other employees to take up bullying themselves.

Envy

If the popularity of HBO’s series Girls is any inclination, being in your 20s isn’t always a golden age. America’s young adults may be itching to jump years down the line, when they hope to be more financially secure and confident in their careers. This is certainly reflected in the recent national Stress in America survey, where 39 percent of adults 18-33 reported their stress level has increased this past year, compared to 29 percent of those 67 or older. Still, stress overall may be declining in the U.S.: 20 percent of adults reported extreme stress in 2012, compared to 24 percent two years earlier.

Sarah Sloat
Sarah Sloat is an editorial fellow with Pacific Standard. She was previously selected as an intern for the Sara Miller McCune Endowed Internship and Public Service Program and has studied abroad in both Argentina and the U.K. Sarah has recently graduated from the University of California-Santa Barbara with a degree in Global and International Studies. Follow her on Twitter @sarahshmee.

More From Sarah Sloat

A weekly roundup of the best of Pacific Standard and PSmag.com, delivered straight to your inbox.

Recent Posts

October 24 • 4:00 PM

We Need to Normalize Drug Use in Our Society

After the disastrous misconceptions of the 20th century, we’re returning to the idea that drugs are an ordinary part of life experience and no more cause addiction than do other behaviors. This is rational and welcome.


October 24 • 2:00 PM

A Letter to the Next Attorney General: Fix Presidential Pardons

More than two years ago, a series showed that white applicants were far more likely to receive clemency than comparable applicants who were black. Since then, the government has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on a study, but the pardons system remains unchanged.


October 24 • 12:00 PM

What Makes You So Smart, Middle School Math Teacher?

Noah Davis talks to Vern Williams about what makes middle school—yes, middle school—so great.


October 24 • 10:00 AM

Why DNA Is One of Humanity’s Greatest Inventions

How we’ve co-opted our genetic material to change our world.


October 24 • 8:00 AM

What Do Clowns Think of Clowns?

Three major players weigh in on the current state of the clown.


October 24 • 7:13 AM

There Is No Surge in Illegal Immigration

The overall rate of illegal immigration has actually decreased significantly in the last 10 years. The time is ripe for immigration reform.


October 24 • 6:15 AM

Politicians Really Aren’t Better Decision Makers

Politicians took part in a classic choice experiment but failed to do better than the rest of us.


October 24 • 5:00 AM

Why We Gossip: It’s Really All About Ourselves

New research from the Netherlands finds stories we hear about others help us determine how we’re doing.


October 24 • 2:00 AM

Congratulations, Your City Is Dying!

Don’t take population numbers at face value.


October 23 • 4:00 PM

Of Course Marijuana Addiction Exists

The polarized legalization debate leads to exaggerated claims and denials about pot’s potential harms. The truth lies somewhere in between.


October 23 • 2:00 PM

American Companies Are Getting Way Too Cozy With the National Security Agency

Newly released documents describe “contractual relationships” between the NSA and U.S. companies, as well as undercover operatives.


October 23 • 12:00 PM

The Man Who’s Quantifying New York City

Noah Davis talks to the proprietor of I Quant NY. His methodology: a little something called “addition.”


October 23 • 11:02 AM

Earliest High-Altitude Settlements Found in Peru

Discovery suggests humans adapted to high altitude faster than previously thought.


October 23 • 10:00 AM

The Psychology of Bribery and Corruption

An FBI agent offered up confidential information about a political operative’s enemy in exchange for cash—and they both got caught. What were they thinking?


October 23 • 8:00 AM

Ebola News Gives Me a Guilty Thrill. Am I Crazy?

What it means to feel a little excited about the prospect of a horrific event.


October 23 • 7:04 AM

Why Don’t Men Read Romance Novels?

A lot of men just don’t read fiction, and if they do, structural misogyny drives them away from the genre.


October 23 • 6:00 AM

Why Do Americans Pray?

It depends on how you ask.


October 23 • 4:00 AM

Musicians Are Better Multitaskers

New research from Canada finds trained musicians more efficiently switch from one mental task to another.


October 22 • 4:00 PM

The Last Thing the Women’s Movement Needs Is a Heroic Male Takeover

Is the United Nations’ #HeForShe campaign helping feminism?


October 22 • 2:00 PM

Turning Public Education Into Private Profits

Baker Mitchell is a politically connected North Carolina businessman who celebrates the power of the free market. Every year, millions of public education dollars flow through Mitchell’s chain of four non-profit charter schools to for-profit companies he controls.


October 22 • 12:00 PM

Will the End of a Tax Loophole Kill Off Irish Business and Force Google and Apple to Pay Up?

U.S. technology giants have constructed international offices in Dublin in order to take advantage of favorable tax policies that are now changing. But Ireland might have enough other draws to keep them there even when costs climb.


October 22 • 10:00 AM

Veterans in the Ivory Tower

Why there aren’t enough veterans at America’s top schools—and what some people are trying to do to change that.


October 22 • 8:00 AM

Our Language Prejudices Don’t Make No Sense

We should embrace the fact that there’s no single recipe for English. Making fun of people for replacing “ask” with “aks,” or for frequently using double negatives just makes you look like the unsophisticated one.


October 22 • 7:04 AM

My Politicians Are Better Looking Than Yours

A new study finds we judge the cover by the book—or at least the party.


October 22 • 6:00 AM

How We Form Our Routines

Whether it’s a morning cup of coffee or a glass of warm milk before bed, we all have our habitual processions. The way they become engrained, though, varies from person to person.


Follow us


Politicians Really Aren’t Better Decision Makers

Politicians took part in a classic choice experiment but failed to do better than the rest of us.

Earliest High-Altitude Settlements Found in Peru

Discovery suggests humans adapted to high altitude faster than previously thought.

My Politicians Are Better Looking Than Yours

A new study finds we judge the cover by the book—or at least the party.

That Cigarette Would Make a Great Water Filter

Clean out the ashtray, add some aluminum oxide, and you've (almost) got yourself a low-cost way to remove arsenic from drinking water.

Love and Hate in Israel and Palestine

Psychologists find that parties to a conflict think they're motivated by love while their enemies are motivated by hate.

The Big One

One company, Amazon, controls 67 percent of the e-book market in the United States—down from 90 percent five years ago. September/October 2014 new-big-one-5

Copyright © 2014 by Pacific Standard and The Miller-McCune Center for Research, Media, and Public Policy. All Rights Reserved.