Polls / October 19, 2011

Which task would you most like to have someone else do for you?

Cleaning is the task respondents to the latest eZonomics online poll would most like to outsource to someone else. Meanwhile, more than a third enjoy cleaning, gardening and grocery shopping themselves.

Should I do-it-myself?
Doing cleaning, gardening, shopping and other tasks ourselves has advantages and disadvantages. In addition to the financial toll of paying someone to do such tasks for us, we can look at other “costs”, such as the economics idea of opportunity cost.
It tells how hours spent scrubbing bathroom tiles are hours that we can’t spend doing other activities. So the opportunity cost of this could well be high for the 38% in the poll who dislike cleaning the most. Those hours could be spent on other tasks that are highly-valued, such as spending time with friends and family. But for those who get joy from cleaning, the opportunity cost is likely to be lower – and this might come into play when deciding to outsource the task or do-it-yourself.

It’s a labour of love
The IKEA effect – a behavioural economics idea – suggests people get satisfaction from doing things themselves. The name is derived from the popular furniture store that frequently requires buyers to assemble products themselves. A paper by author and academic Dan Ariely and others written this year finds “labour leads to love” but “only when labour results in successful completion”. 
This suggests we value things we build (or tasks we complete) ourselves more – but only if we do a good job.

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eZonomics team
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