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Is It Important to Reinvent the Wheel? Part 1: The IKEA Effect

Do you have a system for betting on sports?  If the answer is “no,” please see the article, “Why Don’t You Have a Betting System?” to understand why you should consider having one.


If the answer is “yes,” you already know just how important it is to have some kind of system for placing your bets.  If you are wagering without a method of some kind, you are introducing unnecessary randomness into the betting process.  Randomness is the enemy; it pulls control out of your hands in a game which is part luck, part skill.  Obviously you cannot rely on Lady Luck, which means you need to rely on your skill to give you the edge that you need to win. 


Now, this is where we get to a couple of important questions:

  • What constitutes skill?
  • Where should you get your betting system?


For some reason, there seems to be a pervasive attitude in the betting world that skill is intrinsically tied to originality.  In other words, a skillful bettor is one who can create a working system from the ground up—or heavily modify an existing one.

But is this necessarily the case?  A bettor who can do that certainly is skillful, but is a punter who borrows a system from someone else any less capable at what they do? 

In other words, do you need to reinvent the wheel?  Or is it okay to simply find a working system somewhere (online for example) and use it?


The IKEA Effect

At first glance, it may seem sensible to suggest that you do all of the hard work yourself.  Shortcuts quite often lead nowhere except off a cliff. 

The reality is, though, we sometimes need shortcuts.  We all use them in any area where we are trying to build a working body of knowledge.  Think about it.  When you went to university, did you force yourself to find a new way to solve quadratic equations, or did you simply use the calculus?  Would there have been any point in coming up with an alternative approach?  Doing so could easily take years. 

So it seems strange that in the world of betting, we so often encounter the attitude that everyone needs to start at square one.

One thing which may explain this attitude is the so-called “IKEA Effect.” 


This cognitive bias is named for the Swedish furniture store IKEA.  Many of the items IKEA sells require some degree of at-home assembly by purchasers.  IKEA is of course wildly successful, and customers all over the planet are happy to shell out quite a bit of money for the privilege of taking on these assembly tasks.


In 2011, Michael I. Norton, Daniel Mochon, and Dan Ariely published a research study that demonstrated that people place a higher value on products which require self-assembly.  This is true regardless of the quality of the end product. 

There were a number of parts to the study, but a couple of them involved IKEA furniture.  In the first experiment, the subjects were asked to finish assembly on IKEA items.  They were then asked what they were willing to pay for these partly assembled items vs. items from IKEA which arrived fully assembled.  They were willing to pay 63% more for the items they had to assemble in part.

The third experiment in the bunch looked at whether participants were willing to bid more for IKEA furniture they had to assemble in full or IKEA furniture they had to assemble in part.  Participants who did a full assembly were willing to pay more than those who were assigned a partial assembly.


It is easy to see how this may relate to betting systems.  Basically, we put a great deal of value on things which are built from the ground up.  We feel like there is something more legitimate about these items.  We may also value the process involved in assembly itself.  We like doing that hard work, at least when it yields results.

As a result, we may be more willing to value systems which we develop ourselves, especially those we put together from the ground up.  Systems which are given to us fully assembled may not seem as impressive.


Of course, in the betting world, you don’t have to pay money for a system you create yourself.  You may be asked to pay for a system someone else invented.

But that does not mean that punters do not pay to build their own systems!  There are other forms of payment—like time and energy invested, and even money lost using the system before it is perfected.  Some punters may also pay for training programs which teach them how to develop their own complex methods.

But the reality is this.  If you find a system which someone else invented which already works for you, there is no reason not to use it!  Like pre-assembled furniture, it is perfectly useable, and the quality may be no lower than anything you would create yourself.  In many cases, it may even be better.


Now, none of that means that you do not need to do some work in order to make skillful use of a system, even one that you borrow from someone else.  That is a topic I will delve into in the next installment in this series, Is It Important to Reinvent the Wheel? Part 2: Adapting a System. In short, even though you are borrowing a wheel from someone else, you need to make sure it is fully prepped for the road ahead.


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