Explaining support for covid-19 cell phone contact tracing

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Contact tracing applications have been deployed at a fast pace around the world to stop the spread of COVID-19 and may be key to containing future pandemics. This study aims to explain public opinion toward cell phone contact tracing using a survey experiment. We build upon a theory in evolutionary psychology-disease avoidance-to predict how media coverage of the pandemic affects public support for containment measures. We report three key findings. First, exposure to a news item that shows people ignoring social distancing rules causes an increase in support for cell phone contact tracing. Second, pre-treatment covariates such as anxiety and a belief that other people are not following the rules rank among the strongest predictors of support for COVID-19 apps. And third, while a majority of respondents approve of the reliance on cell phone contact tracing, concerns for rights and freedoms remain a salient preoccupation.




Rheault, L., & Musulan, A. (2021). Explaining support for covid-19 cell phone contact tracing. Canadian Journal of Political Science, 54(2), 431–448. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0008423921000019

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