The “IKEA Effect” Supports The Game Concept Of Compliance

We’ll just begin this post with a preen.

♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥ *self-love* ♥♥♥♥♥♥ *self-love* *self-love* ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥

Ah, that’s better.

Wait. Did you hear that? Someone out there thinks this preen invalidates the science that is about to follow. What a strange duck that person is.

Pick-up artists have a term called compliance, which is a game tactic designed to raise a man’s value relative to the woman’s value, and to gauge a woman’s interest level. The concept is simple: You make a request of a girl, and if she complies you know that she is attracted to you. Furthermore, the very act of complying with your request will cause her to feel more attracted to you.

Compliance techniques can be physical or verbal. The verbal forms are known as “hoops”, as in “jump through your hoops”. For instance, raising your hand and gesturing for a girl to grab it and twirl is a physical compliance test. Asking her to watch your drink as you take a bathroom break, or to participate in a mind game of your choosing, are verbal hoops.

Compliance is a powerful seduction technique, for two reasons: One, it is grounded in an accurate appraisal of human, and particularly female, psychology and, two, it is so rarely used by men (and so frequently deployed by women) that the man who co-opts it for himself is immediately more alluring to women.

While there appears to be no scientific study directly measuring the effect of female compliance on a man’s desirability, there has been an analogous study examining how labor compliance affects people’s feelings of love for the objects of their labor. It’s called the “IKEA Effect”, and the study concluded:

In a series of studies in which consumers assembled IKEA boxes, folded origami, and built sets of Legos, we demonstrate and investigate the boundary conditions for what we term the “IKEA effect” – the increase in valuation of self-made products. Participants saw their amateurish creations – of both utilitarian and hedonic products – as similar in value to the creations of experts, and expected others to share their opinions. […]

Adding to previous literature on effort justification, we also show that successful completion is an essential component for the link between labor and liking to emerge; participants who built and then unbuilt their creations, or were not permitted to finish those creations, did not show an increase in willingness-to-pay. In addition, our experiments addressed several possible alternative IKEA Effect explanations for the increased valuation that people hold for their own creations. We show that successful assembly of products leads to value over and above the value that arises from merely being endowed with a product, or merely handling that product; in addition, by using simple IKEA boxes and Lego sets that did not permit customization, we demonstrated that the IKEA effect does not arise solely as a result of participants’ idiosyncratic tailoring of their creations to their preferences.

What psychological mechanisms underlie the increase in valuation when participants self-assemble their products? In the introduction, we suggested that the increase in liking that occurs due to effort (Aronson and Mills 1959) coupled with the positive feelings of effectance that accompany successful completion of tasks (Dittmar 1992; Furby 1991) is an important driver of the increase in willingness to pay that we observe. Of course, effectance itself has multiple psychological components: actual control over outcomes and mere perceived control over outcomes (Bandura, 1977). Given that our participants are in “control” by building their own products yet assembling them according to preset instructions (i.e., “not in control”), further exploration of perceived and actual control is likely to lend insight into the IKEA effect. In addition, there are likely additional underlying mechanisms that vary by the type of product being assembled. For instance, the assembly of more hedonic products often results in the opportunity to display one’s creation to others (Franke et al. 2010). Indeed, many of our participants who built Legos and origami in Experiments 1B and 2 mentioned a desire to show them to their friends, suggesting that the increase in willingness-to-pay for hedonic products may arise in part due to the social utility offered by assembling these products. We suggest, however, that social utility is likely to play a more minor role in increased liking for self-assembled utilitarian products like the storage boxes used in Experiments 1A and 3, given that the social IKEA Effect utility gained from displaying products decreases as product complexity decreases (Thompson and Norton, in press). It is also possible that the enjoyment of the assembly task itself is a contributor to the IKEA effect – building Lego frogs is more fun than building storage boxes – such that task enjoyment is another contributor to valuation that varies by product type. Future research is needed to unpack what are likely to be multiple drivers of the IKEA effect.

We note that we used generally small ticket items, and the question of whether the IKEA effect occurs for more expensive items is important both practically and theoretically. While future research should empirically examine the magnitude of overvaluation as a function of price, we suggest that, even for very costly items, people may continue to see the products of their labor as more valuable than others do. For instance, people may see the improvements they have made to their homes – such as the brick walkways they laid by hand – as increasing the value of the house far more than buyers, who see only a shoddily-built walkway. Indeed, to the extent that labor one puts into one’s home reflects one’s own idiosyncratic tastes, such as kitchen tiling behind the sink that quotes bible verses, labor might actually lead to lower valuation by buyers, who see only bible verses that must be expunged – even as that labor leads the owner to raise the selling price.

This is a boffo study with wide-ranging implications for numerous human social dynamics, including the seduction of women. Parsing the academese, what the study says is this:

The more work (labor) you put into a project, the more you will value the outcome of that project, even if objectively the value of your output is not high.

This relates to game. The charismatic tactic of inducing female compliance is essentially the coaxing of women to perform labor on your behalf, and for your benefit. When a woman labors for you, (“Carrie, hold my scarf”), she has invested in you, and her love for her “project” (you) grows commensurate with her degree of labor aka investment. It sounds counterintuitive (Typical Blue Piller: “Why would a woman love a man more if he’s being demanding and she’s being accommodating?”), but that is the nature of male-female mating dances: the reproductive goals of men and women are at odds, so romantic interactions tend to resolve into counterintuitive, even paradoxical, strategies.

And how often have we all seen this strange predilection of female nature play out in real life? Watch any natural/jerk/douchebag/player and you’ll see his lovers bending over backward to please him. And when you ask a girl why she loves the jerk who squeezes blood from her stone, she defends him to the high heavens, much like an IKEA consumer will defend his rickety, self-assembled Nordbox to any who question its actual worth.

This is one reason why artists do so well with women. Though he may not be consciously aware of the biomachinations that fuel his seductive charms, the artist’s “demand” of a woman to “get his work” or “grasp his message” is basically a challenge to her self-valuation, and a challenge that requires of her some mental (or physical) labor to reaffirm. Fashion photographers, the straight ones at least, absolutely clean up with hotties because they put their exquisite models in a constant, elevated state of laborious challenge — do this, move here, drop your chin, look this way, stop looking that way — which heightens their feelings of arousal and love for the photographer. It is akin to the feelings evoked by the psychology of Stockholm Syndrome.

Making demands of women feels very unnatural to beta males because those men have little experience with women beyond that which is acquired by flaunting their ability to provide, sympathy mewl on cue, and show up on time. To beta males, the notion of arousing a woman to dizzying sexual cravings through the conduit of compliance testing is incomprehensible. The beta male invests in women; he knows no other way. The alpha male lures women to invest in him. He knows there is another way.

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