Contact tracing apps are a widely discussed means to safely ease or lift the lockdown of societies and economies due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Such apps aim to monitor contacts of people to trace potential infection chains. The goal is a more precise identification and, subsequently, a more targeted isolation of people – limited to those who have been in contact with an infected person. This report contributes to a more empirically grounded discourse about the acceptance of such an app among the German population.
We conducted a choice-based conjoint study with a representative German sample (n=1,472). Instead of merely asking for preferences and attitudes, this method uses realistic choice scenarios to measure preferences for specific features of an app. The app options were described in terms of 11 attributes and multiple implementations options ranging from who will control and oversee the app to whether the app is a prerequisite to free movement, what type of data will be collected and for how long it will be stored. From the participants’ choices, preferences for the different options and importance for the different attributes can be derived. Based on these results, the adoption rates for various app configurations can be estimated.
The results of the study - a cooperation with the Cass Business School (City, University of London) - indicate that while widespread adoption of a contact tracing app seems possible, the adoption by the German public strongly depends on the following factors:
• An independent research institute (e. g. RKI) or the government is in charge and has oversight of the app.
• Use of the app is voluntary and data is collected anonymously.
• There is an “end date” and any data collected is only stored for a limited duration.
• Priority access to testing in case of contacts with potentially infected persons would be an additional benefit driving app adoption.