The Devil Wears Fake Prada

by on September 16, 2009 at 2:26 pm in Economics | Permalink

It's no surprise that people who buy fake merchandise are more likely to cheat in other ways but in this video Dan Ariely, author of Predictably Irrational, explains another one of his ingenious experiments.  Ariely was able to show that randomly inducing people to choose or wear fake merchandise can make them significantly more likely to cheat on a subsequent task.  You are what you wear, or another example of the fundamental attribution error.

Hat tip Freakonomics.

Andrew September 16, 2009 at 2:42 pm

Are Dan and Nouriel roomies? Should be. I’d pay to watch that show.

Ryan Biddulph September 16, 2009 at 3:54 pm

This line of thinking is why we have repeat offenders. Do something illegal, get away with it. Repeat the procedure until you’re caught. Some people learn the lesson but others live a life of crime.

It all depends on one feels after cheating. If you feel bad enough, you won’t do it again. If you get a rush out of it or think that “nobody cares”, this leads to more cheating, and the cycle repeats.

RB

D September 16, 2009 at 5:54 pm

Something should be said for the fact that a group of people give you glasses, tell you they’re fake, and then send you into an experimental setting where deception/cheating is incetivized.

In other words, this is different than the guy who buys stuff that’s fake and only he knows it.

Here, other people not only know it, they endorse it and give it to you. This has to change the social context somewhat. The shared norms change in a way they wouldn’t in real life.

Harkins September 16, 2009 at 7:08 pm

A shame he didn’t control for the placebo effect of fake glasses thought to be genuine.

philipp September 16, 2009 at 7:45 pm

I live in China, where you can by fake clothes at every corner, and presumably 80% of the DVDs are pirated copies. Now, does that make China a nation of cheaters?

Lord September 16, 2009 at 8:50 pm

Yes, I was wondering if replicas would have a similar effect. They aren’t really fakes, just not brand names. They would seem to be honest.

M Mike September 16, 2009 at 9:59 pm

If I was given a $400 pair of glasses I might already feel adequately compensated for my time and not try to maximize my profit, or I might feel warm fuzzy feelings towards the experimenters. Given a pair of $10 glasses I want more money.

Recreate the experiment with cash and see which group cheats more.

MK September 16, 2009 at 11:17 pm

I would like to see a similar study done on middle managers, only comparing those who drive ordinary, no frills cars (Toyota, Chevy, Honda, Ford come to mind) to those driving luxury vehicles. I’m secretly hoping to find scientific evidence that shows I should trust the manager driving an Accord over the one with the BMW M3.

Jessica@Savvy Sponds September 17, 2009 at 2:07 am

I don’t buy this theory for one second. As a student, I don’t have much cash to spend on what I wear, so I generally buy fake merchandise that I buy from street vendors. This, however, doesn’t make me go into shops and shoplift things.

Top management consulting firms September 17, 2009 at 3:30 am

Thanks for the video, it looks nice. and your site is more informative and attracting people. All the best for your job for keep on going.

Andy September 17, 2009 at 8:41 am

This is a good example of the issue I have with Ariely (which comes up repeatedly in Predictably Irrational). He has an interesting experiment, which seems to warrant further investigation, but instead he just comes up with some arbitrary conclusion that seems to fit his preconceived notions. He apparently discounts that other conclusions are possible.

Andrew September 17, 2009 at 11:40 am

Isn’t academia built upon the foundation of the fundamental attribution error? So, it can’t be all bad, right?

disque dur externe portable September 19, 2009 at 1:18 am

Hey!!! That coat is simply awsome!!! I’m actually willing to buy one of those, my brother saw on the movie and felt in love for it†¦ and I want to get it for his as a X-mas present this year†¦ May I have any place where I can buy one??

eyeglass holder July 22, 2010 at 2:38 am

And here I thought the ones who wear originals are fake. At least that’s what you find in the celebrity world with all their pradas, designer clothes, shaded sunglasses and genuinely fake smiles. http://www.eyeglassholder.net

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