Faking it

By Noreen Flanagan
Wearing counterfeit high-fashion items isn’t always such a fashionable idea. Aside from financing international gang activities—and depriving the original creators of considerable coin—you may pay a psychological price for your sartorial ruse. Researchers from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill studied whether wearing fake designer sunglasses would make someone more likely to engage in unethical behaviour. Everyone in the study was given a pair of real $300 designer shades. Half of them were told they were authentic, while the other half was told they were knockoffs. Both groups were then asked to complete a problem-solving task where they would be paid for each correct answer. They marked their own tests and were asked to report their scores. The subjects who thought they were wearing real sunglasses cheated 30 percent of the time, while those who believed they were sporting faux lenses bumped up their score 71 percent of the time. All the participants thought that their tests were anonymous and that their reported scores couldn’t be cross-checked, but researchers had coded the exams so they knew exactly who was, and who wasn’t, a fashionable fibber.  The researchers speculated that the second group felt less authentic and therefore were more likely to be dishonest. “Feeling like a fraud makes people more likely to commit fraud,” they wrote in
Psychological Science. So, if you need some stylish specs and only a luxe label will do, avoid any ironic moral payback and splurge on the real deal.