Evonik Digital Research

A joint research project of EVONIK and the University of Duisburg-Essen

Psychological Study I

The aim of study I was to investigate in greater detail how people perceive tracking by IoT systems and what factors contribute to their intention to use smart technology.

The aim of study I was to investigate in greater detail how people perceive tracking by IoT systems and what factors contribute to their intention to use smart technology. Therefore, we conducted a scenario-based online experiment (N = 209) with a 2 x 2 between-subjects design and examined users’ general attitude towards data collecting methods regarding the deployment of smart technology capable of tracking in their private environment.

Based on privacy calculus theory, we assumed that many users accept tracking in exchange for full functioning and convenience. Moreover, we examined the moderating effects of privacy concerns and the attitude towards tracking on the relationship between the ability of data collection of a smart device and the intention to use it.

Furthermore, in a repeated measurement scenario (N= 437) we investigated how well-informed people are about recent tracking methods and tested the effect of providing them with detailed information about tracking techniques.

The results revealed that people are generally uninformed regarding tracking methods and therefore not able to estimate potential risks. Accordingly, we found no significant effect of tracking on the intention to use smart technology. However, when explicitly informed, people perceive tracking more negatively with a decreasing intention to use certain websites and devices.

In contrast, convenience turns out to be a crucial factor when it comes to the intention to use smart technology and both, privacy concerns and the attitude towards tracking have moderating effects on the relationship between tracking and the intention to use smart technology. This means that people will more likely use a smart device when they have less privacy concerns and a rather positive attitude towards tracking and when at the same time the smart device offers convenience.

The following implications can be drawn from this study: when deploying a multi-stage emergency recognition system, as suggested in chapter 2, employees need to be provided with sufficient information that enable to form an informed attitude about the technology. At the same time risk perception and privacy concerns need to be addressed by informing about privacy protection measures. Furthermore, the convenience factor of the system’s deployment needs to be emphasized in order to highlight the provided benefits.

This is relevant for Evonik as the findings also allow to derive practical implications. By implementing a privacy-preserving emergency system and at the same time providing employees with information about its deployment including the clarification of its benefits as well as potential risks, the company proves a responsible handling of personal data respecting employees’ privacy. The results further put an emphasize on reacting to privacy concerns. By showing transparency regarding the monitoring and the processing of personal data, Evonik addresses privacy concerns which in turn can result in a more positive attitude towards and a higher acceptance of smart technology.

While study I aimed at investigating the general effect of tracking, study II takes a more specific look at the deployment of tracking technology at the workplace.