Valuing Human Work (08-01-19)

Why do we value handmade objects, even when “perfect” machine made options are available?  Waytz in The Power of Human:  How Our Shared Humanity Can Help Us Create a Better World answers that question. Waytz reports, for example, that “people consciously or subconsciously judge the value of something based on the perceived effort put into it.  The first studies examining this effect, led by psychologist Justin Kruger . . . demonstrated that people valued poems, paintings, and medieval armor more highly when they believed these artifacts required more human effort to produce. . . . Van Osselaer’s studies provide critical insight as to why people prefer handmade to machine-made products: love. Participants reported believing that handmade products contained more love and were made with more love than machine-made products. . . . Job and colleagues showed in their research that the mere trace of a human creator enhanced people’s assessments of an object’s value. . . .  Job’s participants believed that the human touch imbued objects with social qualities such as warmth, friendliness, and sincerity.”

Adam Waytz.  2019.  The Power of Human:  How Our Shared Humanity Can Help Us Create a Better World. W.W. Norton; New York.