When the move is imminent and new furniture is needed, many people say: off to Ikea! With the advertising slogan "Are you still living or are you already alive?" the Swedish furniture store marketed the concept of easy furnishing for years - and quite successfully. According to a survey by the market research company YouGov from 2020, more than 60 percent of Germans own at least one Ikea item at home.
When it comes to assembling Ikea furniture, the sentence "Are you still living or are you already stressed out?" might be more appropriate. Data experts from the social shopping community Hotukdeals.com have measured how stress levels change when assembling Ikea furniture. The result: the “Pax” wardrobe in particular can drive people to despair.
The experimenters divided 100 people between the ages of 18 and 60 into teams of two. Your task: assemble 20 different pieces of Ikea furniture, including storage systems, beds, chests of drawers, wardrobes and tables, each within a time limit. The time limits per piece of furniture were calculated on the basis of difficulty ratings by Ikea customers.
In addition, the hobby designers were equipped with heart rate monitors. The focus of the measurement was the heart rate, i.e. the number of heartbeats per minute, as well as the heart rate or heart rate variability. The value indicates the change in the time intervals between individual heartbeats.
As a rule, an increased heart rate and a lower heart rate variability indicate stress - and no piece of furniture caused as much stress as the "Pax" wardrobe. When assembling the individually adaptable model, the heart rate of the participants increased by an average of 20 percent and heart rate variability by as much as 25 percent. This probably also affected the success rate: Only 50 percent managed to assemble the Ikea product within the given time frame.
It wasn't just the "Pax" wardrobe that caused stress among the participants. Just 62 percent of the teams were able to assemble the "Brimnes" bed frame in the allotted time. The heart rate of the participants rose by an average of 18.5 percent.
The Hobby designers also achieved this average value when constructing the “Hemnes” day bed with three drawers. However, 64 percent were able to complete the set on time.
The test subjects found the composition of the Ikea veteran “Kallax” the easiest. All teams built the popular shelf system within the given time, neither the heart rate nor the heart rate variability of the participants changed much. Point for the children's room classic.
However, the products of the Swedish furniture store can claim an advantage. In 2011, researchers from the US universities of Harvard, Tulane and Duke published a research report on the so-called "Ikea effect". According to this, people attach a higher value to things that they (partially) made themselves. For example, if you buy a new shelf and assemble it yourself, the theory is that you would probably like it better than if you received the shelf assembled.
The leaders of the experiment also wanted to address this. After assembling the furniture, they asked the participants which pieces of furniture they were most satisfied with. The designers' answer: the "Nordli" bed frame, the "Trulstop" coffee table and the "Songesand" bed frame.
Interestingly, the models end up in eighth, tenth and eleventh place in the stress ranking – right in the middle. So maybe the “Ikea effect” is all about finding the right balance: enough challenge, but not too much stress. In order to confirm this, however, the experiment would have to be carried out with many more people – and preferably also with products from other furnishing companies.
If you're thinking about buying new furniture yourself, here's some inspiration: