Some Assembly Preferred: With Guests Mike Norton & Michael Ojo

March 15, 2021
There is a real sense of satisfaction that comes with building something yourself. But can that lead to us overvaluing what we create?

Listen on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify or copy to your RSS reader.

Transcript Open new window

After you listen

If you become too emotionally attached to an investment, it can be especially difficult to sell it.

If you become too emotionally attached to an investment, it can be especially difficult to sell it.

Hardware stores and home improvement shows often promote do-it-yourself projects. And while it’s challenging to make your own projects look as good as the ones on TV or in glossy brochures, building something yourself can be a very rewarding experience. The trouble is, the DIY approach can sometimes cloud your perceptions of the value of your project.

In this episode of Choiceology with Katy Milkman, we look at how putting personal effort into something—be it a hand-knit scarf, a new deck, or even a small business—can lead people to overestimate the value of that effort.

Michael Ojo is a web developer and pilot influencer. He runs a popular YouTube channel called MojoGrip, where he shares his love of aviation. It’s also where he documented a project near and dear to him: the building of his first kit airplane, the Sling TSi. You’ll hear the story of Michael’s epic project. Everything from the steep learning curve, to the technical challenges, to the trials and tribulations of building a complicated piece of machinery in the midst of a pandemic. And then, the big question: Will it fly?

Next, Mike Norton joins Katy to discuss the science behind why people tend to place a higher value on their own projects, using research that, among other experiments, observed volunteers as they completed simple origami projects and then had them auctioned off against origami made by an expert. The results were surprising, and quite charming, as you’ll hear from our re-enactment of the experiment.

Michael I. Norton is the Harold M. Brierley Professor of Business Administration at the Harvard Business School and co-author of the book Happy Money: The Science of Smarter Spending.

Finally, Katy discusses the ways in which you can leverage this effect to boost happiness and satisfaction, while avoiding the pitfalls of overvaluing your own handiwork.

Choiceology with Katy Milkman is an original podcast from Charles Schwab.

If you enjoy the show, please leave a rating or review on Apple Podcasts.

Learn more about behavioral finance. 

Under Pressure: With Guests Svetlana Savranskaya, Gary Slaughter & Modupe Akinola

How can we make important decisions when time is scarce and the stakes are high?

Out of Proportion: With Guests Damon Lesmeister & Kelly Shue

Non-proportional thinking, or focusing on absolute numbers rather than percentages, is just one way we get mixed up when we should be carefully calculating and comparing ratios.

Choiceology's Guide to Nudges

Nudges are small but powerful parts of choice architecture.