Tracing-Technology Adoption During the COVID-19 Pandemic: The Multifaceted Role of Social Norms

Sarah Geber, Thomas N. Friemel


Tracing technology has been introduced as part of a broader COVID-19 containment strategy in many countries. However, little is yet known about the drivers and barriers to the adoption of tracing apps. Our theoretical framework integrates concepts from technology acceptance (i.e., perceived usefulness and ease of use), health protection (i.e., perceived threat), and social norms research (i.e., perceived norms). To understand the role of these perceptions in the decision process of people who hesitated to adopt the app (N = 327), we conducted a two-wave panel study after app release in Switzerland. We found that perceived usefulness and ease of use of the app, as well as perceived threat of COVID-19 were positively correlated with adoption intention, whereas perceived threat of data misuse was negatively correlated with it. Social norms played a multifaceted role: They were positively correlated with perceived usefulness of the app and adoption intention. Adoption intention, in turn, predicted app adoption 10 weeks later. We discuss theoretical and practical implications of these findings.


contact-tracing app, technology acceptance, health protection motivation, social norms, COVID-19, longitudinal study

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