For restaurants, hotels, cafes, pubs and nightclubs, the pandemic has hit hard. For many of these businesses, reopening after the early stages of the lockdown came with its own challenges. Notably, governments in many countries have required bars, cafes and restaurants to register contact details of people in case they need to participate in testing and traceability efforts.
It has been reported that some the restaurant staff have clients harassed after obtaining their information through contact tracing. Many restaurateurs complained that their contact details are visible to other customers. There have also been cases of people receiving fraudulent tracking and tracing text messages – making it all no surprise that some people give wrong coordinates.
Part of the problem is that high-profile privacy breaches – such as Facebook Cambridge Analytica data scandal – seriously damaged public confidence. Many people believe that using people’s personal information without their permission is a prevalent problem in many industries. In the United States, for example, more than half of respondents did not think they could prevent their personal information from being collected in their daily lives.
While many bars, pubs, and restaurants didn’t have to worry too much about data scandals before, reports that staff use people’s personal data to try and connect with customers are potentially very damaging – no. only for these companies, but for the entire hospitality sector.
Confidence is obviously a big part of the problem here. For contact tracing to work effectively – for what could be many years to come – customers must have confidence that establishments will take care of their data properly.
To research shows that there are two types of trust: cognitive trust and emotional trust. Cognitive confidence is based on the confidence you feel in another person’s accomplishments, skills, and trustworthiness. It is said that this type of confidence comes from the head or is based more on reasoning and knowledge.
Affective trust, on the other hand, stems from feelings of emotional closeness, empathy, or friendship. This type of trust is said to come from the heart – or has a more emotional connection.
Listen to your brain
With that in mind, our last research project examines whether cognitive or emotional trust is more effective in obtaining consent for contact tracing.
Our preliminary results show that cognitive trust is the key to gaining people’s trust and getting them to recognize the value of contact tracing. So if places have transparent policies on how their data will be used, professional data collection procedures, and clear communication, customers are more willing to share information.
Our results also indicate that many customers are initially reluctant to share their personal information. And if they are pressured to provide information, they are more likely to give false information. Our next research project will therefore take a closer look at some of the reasons why customers do this.
Understandably, many people are worried about a second wave of viruses and another lockdown. This would mean increased unemployment, loss of income and disruption at an already difficult time. This is why it is so important that we have good contact tracing – and that people feel comfortable and secure when sharing their personal information.