Traces left by previous owners and evaluation of used goods

How do visible traces of previous owners on products in secondary markets affect buyers’ evaluations? This is an interesting question for secondary markets like eBay, where thousands of used goods are sold and products start a second life after having being disposed by their initial owners. However, as many consumers tend to customize or personalize their products, this may leave on the products visible traces of the previous owners. How does that affect potential buyers’ evaluations of these goods? Jungkeun Kim (Auckland University of Technology, New Zealand) examined this question in several studies. He found that buyers evaluate used goods with salient traces of previous owners less positively because the salience of these traces makes it harder for potential buyers to psychologically appropriate the product and develop feelings of psychological ownership. Analyses of actual transactions from also confirmed this effect. Apparently, making used goods ours presupposes forgetting that they used to be someone else’s; and erasing previous owners’ traces – even literally, e.g. with a cleaning service, as these studies show – may help overcome these psychological barriers that may prevent us from buying used goods.

You can read more about this research here.

Introducing Our New Category: The Voice of Practice


Dear community,

Science – including The Science of Ownership – would not matter as much, if it had no implications for and would not be inspired by the real world out there. Though The Science of Ownership is primarily about research on the notion of ownership, we decided to extend our current lens and introduce a brand new category to this blog: The Voice of Practice.

As the name already suggests, we are trying to get practitioners and non-researchers views to find out how, why, when, and most importantly where the experience of ownership strikes and impacts our daily lives. We will co-operate with industry experts and potentially also interested lay people. We will give them the chance to reflect on the topic of ownership based on their practical know-how and everyday experiences. Sometimes, we will invite people. At other times, we will introduce individuals who have approached us.

Either way, we are excited to see how this new category will contribute to our vision: to create a much-needed and unified understanding of the diverse and fascinating concept of ownership.

If you have comments or questions on The Voice of Practice or would like to see a particular voice featured, please feel free to contact us anytime. For now, we wish you a lovely week.

All the best,

The Science of Ownership Team