Dancing people

Values and Perceptions about COVID-19 Digital Monitoring Solutions: A Longitudinal Perspective [Seed Funding]

Digital monitoring solutions for COVID-19, including CoronaMelder and the CoronaCheck digital passport, are an important part of managing and ending the pandemic. This project adds a longitudinal perspective to current understanding of public support for monitoring technologies by combining data on values and adoption patterns relevant to pandemics. It is part of the Adaptive Societies, Organizations, and Workers theme.

The COVID-19 pandemic: A quasi-experiment

The COVID-19 pandemic has provided a quasi-experiment to respond to questions about the extent to which societies are adaptive to situations novel to them. Referring to ideas from Foucault (1977), societies implemented digital monitoring solutions to stop the spread of the virus (e.g. CoronaMelder contact tracing app) and to reopen society safely (e.g. CoronaCheck digital passport). For successful implementation, an estimated 60% install base is necessary, which was limited for the CoronaMelder app (active use < 3 million).

One reason for limited use is mixed public opinion. Policy implementation requires support from large segments of the population. Opinions about digital monitoring solutions are complex and present electorates with conflicting viewpoints: the willingness to limit the spread of the virus might conflict with fundamental ideas about civil liberties. Understanding opinion formation about these digital monitoring solutions therefore allows for a better insight in the legitimacy of present governmental strategies to limit the spread of COVID-19, and reopen our societies.

To study these opinions about digital monitoring solutions, two innovations are important. On the one hand, we propose a longitudinal perspective, because the changing information context (i.e., discussions about and implementations of the CoronaMelder and CoronaCheck apps) will offer a different context in which such opinions are shaped. On the other hand, to have a better understanding of opinion formation over time, it is vital to assess the changing nature of the influence of ‘core values’ that are socialized at a young age.

The project

In order to do so, we will merge the “Pre-conditions for Covid-19 mobile apps” survey (Metz) with the second wave of the COVID-19 European Values Study data (Reeskens); both surveys have been implemented in the LISS Panel in October 2020 and administered by CentERdata. Information from CentERdata has shown that 798 respondents participated in both surveys. Subsequently, a selection of items will be repeated in October 2021 among the same respondents. The advantage of the Metz-survey is that it has very detailed items on COVID-19 mobile apps, while the advantage of the EVS is its rigor on ‘core values’ that ought to influence political issues; the combination of both questionnaires is therefore vital to innovate on questions whether opinions about digital monitoring strategies have evolved. Thanks to the cooperation of CentERdata and with the HSRI funding, we will be able to not only merge these two data files, but also to collect new data to advance knowledge of digital monitoring, thereby increasing insights into how to make our societies more adaptive and resilient to adverse conditions, such as the COVID-19 pandemic.


Cross-cutting themes

The Herbert Simon Research Institute for Health, Well-being, and Adaptiveness is a research center devoted to carrying out excellent, state of the art research in order to contribute to healthy and resilient people. We have selected three themes, which involve the collaboration between various Departments  and address actual themes in need of both fundamental and applied research.