Navigating Residue Sensitivity in the Used Goods Marketplace


Correspondence regarding this article should be sent to: Sommer Kapitan, Department of Marketing, University of Texas San Antonio, San Antonio, Texas 78249-0613 (


How does a previous owner's contact with used goods affect consumer judgments of these objects? This research identifies a trait measure of sensitivity to the residue of another's essence or taint found in a used possession. Those highly sensitive to residue respond to the transfer of contaminants from a previous owner of an object. Six samples in Study 1 show that residue sensitivity is a reliable and valid measure that is related to constructs of possession attachment and disease transfer. Still, residue sensitivity explains consumer behavior in the secondhand marketplace in ways that these existing constructs do not. Studies 2 and 3 illustrate how consumers highly sensitive to residue shift their judgments of secondhand goods according to information about the valence of a source of prior ownership.