updated 5/4/2006 1:41:27 PM ET 2006-05-04T17:41:27

Call it “the cootie effect.” Researchers at the University of Alberta School of Business in Canada say they’ve found shoppers are much less likely to buy an article of clothing if they think another person has already touched it.

Not only were shoppers much less inclined to buy a shirt if they believed someone else had already touched it, they also indicated that the value of the product had been diminished.

In addition, the researchers determined that “disgust” was the underlying reason for the participants’ opinions. They say the level of disgust increased depending on how much touching shoppers thought had gone on.

Doctor Jennifer Argo, who headed the study, which is published in this month’s Journal of Marketing, says people just don’t “outgrow the simple notion of cooties, especially when we are reminded of them.”

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