Buyers and sellers: how contamination and financial deprivation shape biases in the secondhand marketplace




Kapitan, Sommer

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If trash is converted to treasure, the secondhand market represents both business and social landscape opportunity, straddling the divide between subsistence and booming market. In two chapters, I propose that the consumers fueling the growth of the secondhand market might be vulnerable to biased tendencies in both buying another's possessions and selling one's own possessions. The first essay examines the secondhand market from the point of view of the buyer, who must see the treasurable qualities in goods clearly used, handled, touched, owned, or perhaps cherished by another consumer. This work documents across five studies that buyers have differing perceptions for the residue of a prior owner of a used possession, and thus exhibit differential willingness to engage in purchases in the secondhand marketplace. In this way, response to the source of secondhand goods serves an important role in judgment and decision-making for consumers. Over the course of six studies, the second essay reveals that those who face relative financial deprivation tend to first set lower prices for ordinary items for sale compared to sellers who are financially secure; and second, those who feel financially deprived tend to overprice their meaningful items for sale significantly more than consumers who feel relatively less financial deprivation. Results suggest that both these pricing tendencies might be cognitive in nature, and two interventions are proposed that might allow financially insecure sellers to adjust their biased tendencies in price-setting and, as a result, earn more income in the marketplace.


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buyer-seller price discrepancy, consumer contaminants, financial deprivation, secondhand, used goods