Remember the episode of Sex and the City (one of the soulless ones where the gang all heads to L.A.) in which Samantha acquires a fake Fendi handbag from the back of a car and an array of Very Bad Things Ensue, including getting kicked out of the Playboy mansion for claiming a Playmate’s handbag is her own? Not just fanciful TV-writing, maybe. According to the September issue of Scientific American, people who wear knockoffs are just asking for trouble.
Yep, actual scientists from Duke, Harvard, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill have determined that buying fakes may “warp your attitudes” and turn you into a lying, cheating, immoral, faux status-branded mess.
Scientists had a group of young women wear Chloe sunglasses and told half of them they were wearing knockoffs. They had the women work on a very hard mathematical puzzle (especially considering the sunglasses) and then score themselves on the honor system, winning money for each correct score. Seventy percent of the “fake” Chloe-wearers cheated! (Only 30 percent of the group who knew they had on real Chloes did.) In another test, the women in the allegedly fake glasses purposely chose incorrect answers that would allow them to make a profit.
The scientists believe that the very act of wearing knockoffs (even knockoffs that aren’t actually knockoffs but are simply presumed to be) triggered the dishonesty, since the glasses were handed out randomly. Which is pretty crazy. This isn’t saying that people who willingly went and chose knockoffs also tended to be liars (which is maybe a more plausible original thesis) but that those who didn’t even choose the glasses but ended up in them became liars and cheaters themselves.
Beyond that: When asked to complete a survey about ethics and people they knew, the fake Chloe-wearers “saw other people as more dishonest, less truthful and more likely to act unethically in business dealings.”
Holy crap. Wait a second, did a bunch of status brands get together and pay for this “knockoffs are evil” study? And how does this apply to, say, wearing Forever 21?
It must be noted, as we stated before, that these folks all ended up with knockoffs without choosing them and then felt worse about themselves after being dealt that shoddy (if untrue) card. So maybe the counterintuitive applies: If you go out shopping with the express purpose of obtaining a knockoff, perhaps you feel just dandy about yourself while buying and/or wearing it.
Conversely, if you shell out $2050 for a genuine Fendi bag, well, God only knows how you’re going to feel. That’s why we like Uniqlo.
Now, counterfeit condoms: Those really do make you feel bad.
[via Scientific American]
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on August 23, 2010