Study: Does Carrying A Fake Make You Fake?

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There's an interesting article in the New York Times this week about a study conducted by Duke/MIT professor that may color the ongoing fakes debate.

The basic idea behind Professor Dan Ariely's study, Faking It: The Psychology of Dishonesty and Counterfeits, is that if you do it once (buy a knockoff), you'll do it again, and it doesn't just affect your style but your behavior as well. "The effect on morality, people don't anticipate," says Ariely. Harsh? Yes. So let's take a look at the experiment:

Ariely took 250 people and split them into groups of two, giving each one the same pair of "designer" sunglasses. He then told one group their new sunnies were faux, and the other group that theirs were real. Everyone was then given the same math test. Out of those who were wearing the counterfeit glasses, 60% cheated on their test. But for those who were sporting the real deal, only 20% stooped to cheating. (And this was just one of a few different mini-experiments he used to gather his data.)

We're not sure of all the details (Did any of the subjects know each other? Was one group younger than the other? Were these experiments conducted multiple times each, or just once? etc), but the main question remains: Does buying a Canal Street fake Fendi mean you're more likely to cheat on anything from a test to a boyfriend? Or does this seem like a bit of a reach?

Ariely's study basically asserts that buying a fake is a slippery slope, kind of like the gateway drugs from DARE. They can be cheap, they can be easy, and nobody pays attention to anti-counterfeiting ads anyway. But does it mean something more about you if you partake?


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