The main question of this paper is what factors influence willingness to participate in a smartphone-application-based data collection where participants both fill out a questionnaire and let the app collect data on their smartphone usage. Passive digital data collection is becoming more common, but it is still a new form of data collection. Due to the novelty factor, it is important to investigate how willingness to participate in such studies is influenced by both socio-economic variables and smartphone usage behaviour. We estimate multilevel models based on a survey experiment with vignettes for different characteristics of data collection (e.g., different incentives, duration of the study). Our results show that of the socio-demographic variables, age has the largest influence, with younger age groups having a higher willingness to participate than older ones. Smartphone use also has an impact on participation. Advanced users are more likely to participate, while users who only use the basic functions of their device are less likely to participate than those who use it mainly for social media. Finally, the explorative analysis with interaction terms between levels has shown that the circumstances of data collection matter differently for different social groups. These findings provide important clues on how to fine-tune circumstances to improve participation rates in this novel passive digital data collection.
Keywords: data collection methods; digital trace data; smartphone data; survey experiment; willingness of participation.