Promoting the use of contact tracing technology will be an important step in global recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. Across two studies, we assessed two messaging strategies as motivators of intended contact tracing uptake. In one sample of 1117 Australian adults and one sample of 888 American adults, we examined autonomy-supportive and controlling message framing and the presence or absence of information safety as predictors of intended contact tracing application uptake, using an online randomized 2 × 2 experimental design. The results suggested that the provision of data safety assurances may be key in affecting people’s intentions to use contact tracing technology, an effect we found in both samples regardless of whether messages were framed as autonomy-supportive or controlling. Those in high information safety conditions consistently reported higher intended uptake and more positive perceptions of the application than those in low information safety conditions. In Study 2, we also found that perceptions of government legitimacy related positively to intended application uptake, as did political affiliation. In sum, individuals appeared more willing to assent to authority regarding contact tracing insofar as their data safety can be assured. Yet, public messaging strategies alone may be insufficient to initiate intentions to change behavior, even in these unprecedented circumstances.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
Study 1 was funded by the Monash Sustainable Development Institute. Study 2 was funded by research funds allocated by the Australian Catholic University.
© Copyright © 2021 Bradshaw, Ryan, Noetel, Saeri, Slattery, Grundy and Calvo.
- information security
- message framing
- self-determination theory