This morning Daniel Mochon, a marketing professor at Tulane University, was interviewed on Morning Edition on National Public Radio about a psychological phenomenon dubbed the Ikea Effect. Mr. Mochon and his colleagues at Harvard Business School and Duke University demonstrated that people attach greater value to things they build themselves as compared with the same product built by someone else. Apparently building your own stuff boosts your feelings of pride and competence, and also signals to others that you are competent. The phenomenon is named the Ikea Effect after the home furnishing store known for its ready-to assemble furniture (although, I have to add, I’ve purchased my fair share of Ikea furniture in the past and I can’t say I’ve thought of it as particularly valuable, even after I assembled it).
The interview got me thinking about divorce mediation and why it often results in marital settlement agreements that parties are more willing to follow post-divorce, and lower post-divorce conflict overall. I think one of the reasons is probably the Ikea Effect. In divorce mediation, as opposed to traditional divorce litigation, the divorcing parties are the ones who directly negotiate and craft their marital settlement agreement, essentially “building” it themselves. That process, which can take many hours, makes the parties much more vested in their settlement agreement. Like the Ikea Effect, successfully completing the process boosts feelings of pride and competence in the parties, feeling that had likely been diminished as a result of the failed relationship and divorce. As a result, the parties place a higher “value” on the marital settlement agreement and, therefore, are more likely to abide by its terms.
The parties’ wiliness to abide by a marital settlement agreement is not an insignificant consideration in deciding whether to approach a divorce through litigation or mediation. There is great value to low post-divorce conflict and an agreement that both parties can accept and live with, particularly when children are involved.
Cooley & Handy offers both divorce litigation and mediation services. For more information or to schedule a consultation please contact our office.