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Rose-coloured spectacles?
June 25, 2010 1:17 PM   Subscribe

Cheats may or may not prosper, but they despise themselves for cheating. At least according to an intriguing piece of research published in Psychological Science by Francesca Gino of the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Research suggests wearing fake goods makes you feel a fake yourself, and causes you to be more dishonest in other matters than you would otherwise be.
posted by Fizz (65 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

 
I kept misreading the word "fake" into other parts of this post. Fake research, published in Fake Psychological Science, and posted by fake. Then I fake-despised myself.
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 1:21 PM on June 25, 2010 [3 favorites]


I don't feel like a fake for buying knockoffs. I feel less cheated when I buy a knockoff. I come out feeling like a winner for saving money. Spending $100 on a purse would make me feel like a loser. Cost and brand name often don't reflect quality. And I'm not dishonest.
posted by anniecat at 1:22 PM on June 25, 2010 [10 favorites]


I prefer fake goods. But only if they are embarrassingly, obviously knockoffs. I actually prefer Dr. Fizz to Dr Pepper.

In the same way I prefer the Miss USA contest to the Miss America contest. And Super USA to SuperAmerica.
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:24 PM on June 25, 2010 [3 favorites]


I think a lot of that depends on your own perception of what you're accomplishing. If you see it as "getting a product with a certain visual appearance at a lower cost than others," you're saving money. If you see it as "figuring out how to send prestige-signals that you normally can't afford," then I can understand te idea of The Lie gnawing at someone.
posted by verb at 1:25 PM on June 25, 2010 [13 favorites]


I second anniecat.

From the end of the article:

The moral, then, is that people’s sense of right and wrong influences the way they feel and behave.

What? No. The moral, then, is that the Economist conflates morality, social constructions of authenticity, and the inflated prices of luxury consumer goods in a way I can't understand.
posted by a small part of the world at 1:26 PM on June 25, 2010 [11 favorites]


the Economist conflates morality, social constructions of authenticity, and the inflated prices of luxury consumer goods in a way I can't understand

All that from a publication called the Economist? WELL I NEVER!
posted by nathancaswell at 1:27 PM on June 25, 2010 [4 favorites]


Research suggests wearing fake goods makes you feel a fake yourself, and causes you to be more dishonest in other matters than you would otherwise be.

I wonder who sponsored this research.
posted by grouse at 1:29 PM on June 25, 2010 [16 favorites]


Batman always wins by cheating, and he doesn't despise himself... EXCEPT FOR LIVING WHEN HIS PARENTS DIED.

That said, he's a cheaty mofo, but he's never cheap or fake. There's a difference.
posted by Artw at 1:32 PM on June 25, 2010 [3 favorites]


Research suggests wearing fake goods makes you feel a fake yourself, and causes you to be more dishonest in other matters than you would otherwise be.

Presumaby unless (a) you are wearing them unwittingly, (b) wearing them ironically, (c) wearing them in a honest attempt to empirically test psychological research, the result of which may show how dishonest you actually are even though you.... Hhhmmmm, more beer I think...
posted by MajorDundee at 1:32 PM on June 25, 2010


....supposedly as part of a marketing study....The participants were spun a yarn....the papers were recovered and marked again by the researchers after they had been discarded.

That seems like a lot of deception in one study: I'm surprised their IRB went along. And I couldn't help wonder whether the researchers felt a little fake themselves.
posted by Killick at 1:33 PM on June 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


I never realized before this moment how essential lying is to doing science.
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:35 PM on June 25, 2010 [5 favorites]


And from NYC:

But perhaps the most troubling discovery was of a stash of more than half a million fake Trojan brand condoms, which did not have spermicide as advertised and later failed water leakage tests...

Enjoy.
posted by R. Mutt at 1:35 PM on June 25, 2010


''Buying authentic luxury goods, the sensiblest choice.''
- Dr. Louis Vuitton
posted by CitoyenK at 1:35 PM on June 25, 2010 [5 favorites]


What? No. The moral, then, is that the Economist conflates morality, social constructions of authenticity, and the inflated prices of luxury consumer goods in a way I can't understand.
TL;DR: Rich people who write for the economist are pissed at all the pleabs buying knockoff when they by the real stuff
posted by delmoi at 1:39 PM on June 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


Poor silly non-sociopaths.
posted by Space Coyote at 1:48 PM on June 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


> Cheats may or may not prosper, but they despise themselves for cheating.

I'm cool with it.
posted by The Card Cheat at 1:48 PM on June 25, 2010 [10 favorites]


Batman always wins by cheating, and he doesn't despise himself... EXCEPT FOR LIVING WHEN HIS PARENTS DIED. That said, he's a cheaty mofo, but he's never cheap or fake. There's a difference.

Artw, I'm not sure how to break this to you. It wasn't my job I know that much, but... this has gone on far too long and you're just embarrassing yourself now. Brace yourself, this might sting a little. Batman isn't real, he is in fact entirely fake.

I have some kleenex if you need it.
posted by edbles at 1:51 PM on June 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


Try this: you can buy a real Mont Blanc ballpoint pen and it is lovely to look at and great for writing. You can also buy an inexpensive Pilot pen, toss the filler, and nip off the end of a Mont Blanc filler and put it in the cheap pen. The two pens will write in exactly the same way. But one pen is, well, a Mont Blanc (look, you can spot it) and the other is, ok, it writes ok for a cheap pen.
In sum: we often prefer The Real Thing for reasons that are questionable but important to some of us; or we can be practical and not sorry about appearances and this or that "value."
posted by Postroad at 1:52 PM on June 25, 2010


Fortunately, my fake glasses prevent me from realizing that anything else is fake.
posted by StickyCarpet at 1:52 PM on June 25, 2010


Batman isn't real

He can get out of that.

Because he is Batman.

Batman always wins.
posted by Artw at 1:52 PM on June 25, 2010 [5 favorites]


I don't feel like a fake for buying knockoffs. I feel less cheated when I buy a knockoff. I come out feeling like a winner for saving money. Spending $100 on a purse would make me feel like a loser. Cost and brand name often don't reflect quality. And I'm not dishonest.

I always suck at these logic puzzles. What do we ask the other anniecat? I just want the treasure on the other side of the door. I hear it's a really nice pair of sunglasses.
posted by edbles at 1:53 PM on June 25, 2010 [3 favorites]


Maybe people who get given fake stuff feel fake, but people who buy fake stuff feel smart? Shove that in your executive smoking pipe.
posted by edbles at 1:55 PM on June 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


I've commented on this before, but I have a really good counterfeit Rolex that I actually think is far cooler than having a real one. Anyone with a lot of money can go into a store and buy a real high-end watch, but I'd be hard pressed to find another counterfeit as good as the one I've got.

As such, I feel way more bad-ass wearing my fake one.
posted by quin at 1:59 PM on June 25, 2010 [4 favorites]


Freudian Slip: Economics is fake science. Economists wear expensive suits to cover up their "subsequent behaviour". Several trillion dollars later, The Economist has a fake story about rose-coloured glasses.
posted by larry_darrell at 2:00 PM on June 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


Interesting article, no matter what the researchers' motivations.

But I was distracted by how ugly the Chloe sunglasses are in the "real thing" picture adorning the article. People are really willing to pay $300 for them??
posted by bearwife at 2:00 PM on June 25, 2010


Next month in The New Scientist: Research suggests that everyone should buy more authentic products from your authorized retailers.

Also: Mercury in the food chain: Good or Great?
posted by Avenger at 2:02 PM on June 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


This study is TRUTH. We have knock-off Fischer-Price Little People in the house and I can hardly sleep from the shame and guilt. My neighbors must wonder why I can't look them in the eye. I see those smiling, plastic faces and it's all I can do to not grab my keys and head straight for the liquor store.
posted by Mayor Curley at 2:05 PM on June 25, 2010 [4 favorites]


I think the question as to whether someone who buys knockoffs feels like a cheater depends on whether or not they think it's cheating. Generally when we say someone cheats, we mean they acquire some reward without doing what most people agree is required to have that award.

The only way that buying knockoff goods could be considered cheating would be if the brand itself was considered a reward, as opposed to a signifier indicating the value of the product. If I buy a Toyota, it's not because I want a big fat T on my car, it's because I think they make good cars. If I buy a fake, I would know exactly what I was getting. I'd buy it because I like the styling and think that the "real" items are overpriced.

Furthermore, it implies that there's something extrinsic about purchases, that you're doing it not to satisfy yourself but rather as a symbol of your awesome consumer spending power. But does you really care about what people that vapid actually think? (And that they can't spot fakes anyway?)
posted by delmoi at 2:06 PM on June 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


A friend of mine used to do blue-collar work in a large hotel. On a trip to Hong Kong, he picked up a nice little fake Louis Vitton bag (actually very well made), which he used as his small tool bag. To top the ensemble, he had a genuine Hermes scarf (slightly damaged when used in a marketing display) which he used as a do-rag.

He said he always got a rise out of the secretaries. They seemed to feel he was committing some sort of sacrilege.
posted by Jimmy Havok at 2:09 PM on June 25, 2010 [20 favorites]


Metafilter: I see those smiling, plastic faces and it's all I can do to not grab my keys and head straight for the liquor store.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:12 PM on June 25, 2010 [3 favorites]


> And I'm not dishonest.

We have only your word to go by.
posted by ardgedee at 2:16 PM on June 25, 2010


It's interesting, though the conclusion verges on folk wisdom:

The moral, then, is that people’s sense of right and wrong influences the way they feel and behave.

Right. Thanks, clinical psychology.

This, however, is more interesting:

...Even when it is someone else who has made them behave badly, it can affect their subsequent behaviour.

For some reason this made me think of military and paramilitary conscription. People who, for example, might not want to join a rebel group can gradually be made complicit in the moral standard of the entire endeavor. And it happens in gangs, too, as when the induction requires that a new member do something extremely or arbitrarily brutal.
posted by clockzero at 2:18 PM on June 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


Batman isn't real

He can get out of that.


1. It is possible to imagine a World's Greatest Detective, which contains all of the Detective Perfections.

2. To exist is more Detective Perfect than to not exist.

3. ∴ (1,2) The World's Greatest Detective has the property of existence.

4. Batman is the World's Greatest Detective.

5. ∴ (3, 4) Batman exists.
posted by Pope Guilty at 2:18 PM on June 25, 2010 [24 favorites]


It looked, then, as if believing they were wearing fakes made people feel like fakes.

OR it could be that people who are under the impression that they just scored a pair of $300 glasses might not want to do anything to mess up and get the glasses taken back. Seriously, re-run the experiment, except in the beginning, come in and give the people either $300 or $5. Then have them take a test to possibly earn $10 more. I think this has nothing to do with feeling fake and everything to do with not wanting to lose $300.
posted by 23skidoo at 2:19 PM on June 25, 2010 [3 favorites]


Maybe people who get given fake stuff feel fake, but people who buy fake stuff feel smart?

Also, a knockoff - something with a similar or even identical look but not necessarily purporting to be the original - is not the same as a counterfeit, which is in fact pretending to be the original and pretending to have been made by the original creator/manufacturer.

The former is an homage, the latter a lie.
posted by amtho at 2:22 PM on June 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


Oooh, 23skidoo is right on.
posted by amtho at 2:23 PM on June 25, 2010


Batman must leave a ton of those batarang things lying around town with the way he throws them about. You'd think there'd be a collectors market for those. Real ones only, of course.
posted by Artw at 2:27 PM on June 25, 2010


You should talk to a few people who had their portfolios with Bernie Madhoff.
posted by effluvia at 2:30 PM on June 25, 2010


I'm sorry but isn't the obvious interpretation of this study that while living a lie people feel like they are already getting away with something and will try getting away with more. A good follow up study would be to see how many people cheat if they are called out for wearing fake stuff.
posted by Rubbstone at 2:44 PM on June 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


I think 23skidoo and Rubbstone have it right (and Killick). There seem to be some large assumptions going on.
posted by mrgrimm at 2:55 PM on June 25, 2010


But I was distracted by how ugly the Chloe sunglasses are in the "real thing" picture adorning the article. People are really willing to pay $300 for them??

I was more distracted by the fact that they're modeled by Britney Spears and what that says about her purported "realness."
posted by grapefruitmoon at 3:01 PM on June 25, 2010


I see those smiling, plastic faces and it's all I can do to not grab my keys and head straight for the liquor store.

Story of my life.
posted by empath at 3:01 PM on June 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


I can kind of see how it could be true. I know the idea of buying a counterfeit Rolex seems really sad and tacky to me, and if I wanted to spend a few hundred bucks on a watch I'd rather just buy a nice not-Rolex than grasping at straws to impress people. I could imaging wearing one eating at me.
posted by floam at 3:03 PM on June 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


Articles like this, and the fluff piece on Monstanto are exactly why I didn't renew my subscription.
posted by wcfields at 3:10 PM on June 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


Furthermore, it implies that there's something extrinsic about purchases, that you're doing it not to satisfy yourself but rather as a symbol of your awesome consumer spending power. But does you really care about what people that vapid actually think?

Surely this is true for some people. There are people who care deeply about status signifiers, and brands (not quality of product, but brand) can be a big one. Those would be the people I would expect this to apply to.
posted by wildcrdj at 3:14 PM on June 25, 2010


Try this: you can buy a real Mont Blanc ballpoint pen and it is lovely to look at and great for writing. You can also buy an inexpensive Pilot pen, toss the filler, and nip off the end of a Mont Blanc filler and put it in the cheap pen. The two pens will write in exactly the same way. But one pen is, well, a Mont Blanc (look, you can spot it) and the other is, ok, it writes ok for a cheap pen.
In sum: we often prefer The Real Thing for reasons that are questionable but important to some of us; or we can be practical and not sorry about appearances and this or that "value."


Except the Pilot pen refill writes better than the Mont Blanc refill. Pilot actually makes pens; Mont Blanc makes easily broken baubles than manage to put marks on paper.

And many pen snobs wouldn't be caught dead with a *Mont Blanc*, much less a *ballpoint*.

</pen nerd>

These examples start getting very muddied because there is the brand associated with luxury, that everyone knows, like Mont Blanc and Rolex; then among the internet forum nerds, these brands are widely chastised for marketing themselves as a status symbol to the lazy masses, when cheaper, lesser known brands are held up as more influential and "genuine" to the hobby.
posted by meowzilla at 4:14 PM on June 25, 2010


I think they are talking about Velben-like goods. People who want the status but can't scrape together the cash and buy knockoffs are the ones who suffer this effect.

Not the people who buy knockoffs because they don't care whether their kid shits in Huggies or Targgies. Because they really aren't buying knock offs- they are just buying the thing that makes the most economic sense.
posted by gjc at 4:53 PM on June 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


Batman must leave a ton of those batarang things lying around town

I half-recall a Batman story that involved a kid who found a batarang...
posted by Jimmy Havok at 5:25 PM on June 25, 2010


I think comparing Pilot pens to Mont Blanc pens isn't exactly a good analogy here. Pilot makes excellent pens, and Mont Blanc won't shy away from the fact that they make a prestige product. In fact, Pilot also makes very expensive (and beautiful) pens that are on par with Mont Blanc in terms of cost.

I mean, I wear an awesome Seiko watch. It's not a Rolex, but it's also not a knock off.

I do find it odd that people wear knock-offs for any other reasons than (A) for novelty, or (B) to try to fool people into making it look like you have the real thing.

You have to distinguish between a knock-off and a less-costly alternative, because they aren't really the same thing. I mean, if somebody put a Dr. Pepper label on a can of Dr. Fizz, that's a knock off. Dr. Fizz in and of itself is just a cheaper alternative.

So, basically the article is saying that people that buy knock-offs with the intent of deceiving others into thinking they have the real thing know that they are deceptive people. Quite the scientific breakthrough there.
posted by jabberjaw at 5:30 PM on June 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


Cost and brand name often don't reflect quality.

'Pfft, only douchebags buy D&G. It's not like it's better quality or anything.'
'But you have a D&G handbag. You're carrying it right now.'
'Yeah, but mine's fake.'
posted by obiwanwasabi at 5:52 PM on June 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


Only knock off I buy is fake-authentic NFL jerseys from Hong Kong. I get compliments all the time, at which point I immediatly inform them that it's a fake. What kind of idiot would spend $300 for a fucking jersey? I don't want people thinking I'm dumb.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 6:02 PM on June 25, 2010


If I bought knock offs I would feel like a cheat. So, I buy authentic and feel like a sucker.
posted by DaddyNewt at 6:18 PM on June 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


Forget morality. Wearing fake goods is just plain stupid and makes no sense. Because the people you're trying to impress with knockoff watches and sunglasses can spot a fake a mile away. And the people who don't know any better don't care if you're wearing a knockoff.
posted by L'OM at 6:25 PM on June 25, 2010 [4 favorites]


My big issues with knock-offs and the so called "real" products is that most everything is made in China or some other non-North American place and so it's just a matter of the type of store you end up purchasing from, the mark-up is the only difference.
posted by Fizz at 7:12 PM on June 25, 2010


@Fizz: Yup, knock-offs are even sometimes made on the same assembly line off hours.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 10:04 PM on June 25, 2010


It occurs to me, if you are marking up your items 1000% why the hell do you need to do the manufacturing in China to save a few bucks?
posted by furiousxgeorge at 10:14 PM on June 25, 2010


So you can have those extra few bucks.
posted by Iax at 2:08 AM on June 26, 2010 [3 favorites]




This is why we need the video referee in science.
posted by doublehappy at 4:50 AM on June 26, 2010



When someone says they purchased an original at five or more times the price of an indistinguishable knock off I immediately attribute one of two things to said person. Either:

1. They are liars.

2. They are stooopid.
posted by notreally at 1:42 PM on June 26, 2010


"Forget morality. Wearing fake goods is just plain stupid and makes no sense. Because the people you're trying to impress with knockoff watches and sunglasses can spot a fake a mile away. And the people who don't know any better don't care if you're wearing a knockoff."

That's a lie perpetuated by people whose identities are tied to class assumptions about luxury and those who manufacture and market luxury goods. There are plenty of people who are impressed or set at ease by luxury goods who have no ability to spot fakes.
posted by klangklangston at 2:46 PM on June 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


As an aside, for a long time, one of my favorite t-shirts was one my parents bought me from Acapulco. It is obviously fake, with the wrong font and wrong color scheme; at the time there wasn't even a Hard Rock Cafe in Acapulco.

But then they opened one and the shirt went from being a fantasy invention to merely a knock-off, and I felt like I lost something. Bigger fakes are better. At least now, the Hard Rock Cafes are so passé that I can enjoy wearing the obvious fake again, since the '80s are all bathed in hipster irony.
posted by klangklangston at 2:51 PM on June 26, 2010


I never realized before this moment how essential lying is to doing science.

Although this piece is in the economist, it is by no means a work of neuroeconomics. Neuroeconomics is cool in that there is essentially no deception. People are paid any amounts they're told they'll be paid, and the experiments are presented at face value.

It's limiting in that regard too, though. Sometimes you gotta fudge a little on what you tell people to see what you're interested in. People on the IRB are just people though, and I think a lot of times they indicate to you what sort of framework they're willing to buy and you just hand back your proposal in that format.
posted by solipsophistocracy at 10:41 PM on June 26, 2010


Don't listen to that economist guy. Do you want to see my wares?
posted by ersatz at 10:25 AM on June 27, 2010


Spending $100 on a purse would make me feel like a loser.

Are you saying that $100 would be expensive for a purse? I know people who have paid close to $100 for a good fake.
posted by antifuse at 11:04 AM on June 30, 2010


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