April 22, 2013

Attention! Owning Fake Goods Can Trigger A Cynical And Dishonest Attitude!


Owning fake items is, of course, a fashion faux pas, as well as being illegal in some countries, but did you ever stop to think that the problem may go much deeper than this?

A study conducted by researchers Francesca Gino (University of North Carolina), Michael I. Norton (Harvard Business School) and Dan Ariely (Duke University), has highlighted alarming results: owning counterfeit goods may trigger a cynical, dishonest and even corrupt attitude.

The researchers have conducted a series of experiments to demonstrate that owning fake items can have hidden psychological effects, modifying the normal behaviour of people. For starters, they gathered a group of young women and handed them original Chloé sunglasses, telling some of them that the items were fake. After that, the entire group was asked to complete a series of tasks, which offered the opportunity of behaving in a dishonest way, by lying and cheating.


The first task revolved around solving a set of math problems, created in such a way that it was impossible to solve in the allotted time slot. The women were then asked to score themselves and take money for each correct answer that they gave. 70% of women who thought they were wearing fake sunglasses had the tendency to cheat, taking money for answers that they knew they gave wrong, while only 30% of women who knew they were wearing original items, resorted to cheating.

The second experiment implied a simple task: the women were asked to look at a screen and indicate on which side they saw more dots. The left side came with a ”reward” of one cent, while the right, with five cents, indifferent of whether the answer was correct or not. Again, a great number of women who were under the impression that they were wearing fakes, had the tendency of choosing the answer that brought in more money, although clearly knowing it was the wrong one.

The last part of the experiment brought to light that personal ethics isn’t the only feature affected by owning fake goods, showing that they also trigger a cynical attitude towards other people. The group was asked to complete a questionnaire referring to people that were close to them and their potential to act in a dishonest manner. (The questions focused, for instance, on scenarios such as ”Would a good friend use the 10-item register at the grocery store, even though they have more? Would he/she be willing to steal office supplies?”). The answers showed that the majority of women who were under the impression that they were wearing fake sunglasses, adopted a cynical attitude towards others.

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Photos courtesy of: bigpicture.si, vidaru.com