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Scientists Prove That Designer Knockoffs Turn You Into a Lying, Cheating Hot Mess

It's what the fashion industry's been telling us all along. Now there's proof.

Bad news for all you broke-ass brand whores who do your shopping in Chinatown alleyways: Knockoffs don't just cheapen your look, they blacken your soul.

In a series of tests, as Scientific American reports, researchers from UNC Chapel Hill, Harvard Business School, and Duke found that women who thought they were wearing fake designer goods were more likely to lie, cheat, and, generally loathe humanity than those wearing the real deal. In other words, it turned them into Snooki, on the inside and the outside.

The first experiment asked women to put on authentic Chloe glasses then perform a series of tasks to assess their honesty. The catch: Half the subjects were told they were wearing fakes. Of those, 70 percent lied about how well they accomplished the tasks and stole money meant to reward good performance. (The figure was 30 percent for the other half.)

In another experiment, test questions were linked up to financial rewards, effectively forcing subjects to choose between a correct answer and a more profitable one. There again, women who believed they were wearing knockoffs were more likely to pick raw cash over the truth.

The most troubling aspect of it all is that the counterfeits actually turn people into skeptical misanthropes. Another experiment asked subjects to answer questions about people they knew on matters like whether they'd lie on expense reports, steal office supplies, and so on. Sure enough, the women in the fake-shades-but-not-really group were waaaaaay more cynical than those who thought they were wearing real Chloes.

It sounds almost too neat to be true, as if it were some sort of clever ruse drummed up by the fashion industry—long an enemy of imitation brands—to make people feel worse about themselves than they already do. But maybe we're just skeptical misanthropes (who may or may not own a fake Louis Vuitton).

The lesson for all you ladies out there swinging plastic Birkin bags and dudes rocking faux Prada belts, is this: You're not fooling anyone, least of all yourselves. From Scientific American: "?Faking it" makes us feel like phonies and cheaters on the inside, and this alienated, counterfeit "self" leads to cheating and cynicism in the real world.?

So what's a broke-ass brand whore to do? Is the moral that maintaining your integrity means anything's better than buying fakes? Like stealing the real thing? And does the study prove that cheating trickles outwards into your life—or does it prove that owning nice brands makes you feel better about yourself, and more virtuous as a result?

[Read more at Scientific American]

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  • Anna

    We're told the fashion industry loses billions of dollars to knockoffs. Well, here's a food for thought: price your fashion at a reasonable price. Louis Vuitton is expensive for its quality, but price it more reasonable even then and you'll still make a lot of money.
    I wear knockoffs- heck, I just bought some knockoffs. But that doesn't mean I'm "blackening my soul"- that can be true for some women, but not me or others I know. I literally cannot say it's authentic. Whenever people compliment me I say it's a knockoff because I, unlike others, hate to lie.
    I buy brands for their designs, not their name. The fashion industry is very materialistic, sadly, and so knockoffs are a good alternative to the overpriced conceit they try to sell.

  • Alicia

    You stupid ass hell paying all that money for a fucking bag. Your ass Beyonce. Most women who is buying these bags have a thing called responsibility. second thing fuck all those studies that are paid for by designers. So fuck you and this stupid ass article. 

  • Lynne d Johnson

    Sean - I think that was my point exactly. Brand identification is self-identification in some communities and it doesn't matter whether the brands or real or fake as long as they give someone the identity they are looking for.

    I wonder if wearing weaves or wigs makes you a liar. I mean it's fake hair isn't it.

  • Chris Reich

    It seems if you need this kind of thing bad enough to buy a copy of it, you are already as the survey indicates.

    It's like asking people who buy cigarettes about their other health habits. So does buying a pack of Camels make someone care less about their health or was that choice made before the purchase?

    Chris Reich, being repetitive

  • Lynne d Johnson

    I'll have to read more on this study but this just seems so untrue. I really have to look at the sample size to get a better understanding. If you wear fakes, you feel fake? Sounds very simple, as you suggest in the article. For now, I'm not buying it.

  • Chris Reich

    I think obsession with a brand name purse or pair of sunglasses bespeaks the onset of soul-blackening. Buying fake is a need to remain in that state even if beyond affordability.

    Chris Reich

  • Sean

    I expect that it may be a matter of self-image - perhaps the "fake" items would be perceived to be of "less" social and/or personal value than the "the real thing", and perhaps one might feel as if one's self image was reflected in as much.

    While I don't doubt the veracity of their sampling technique, but I honestly wonder if the study would have come up with any different results, if the persons participating in the experiment were from poor communities. I believe branding can take on a different significance, below a certain income level.