Bertelsmann Stiftung (ed.)

Viktoria Grzymek and Michael Puntschuh

What Europe Knows and Thinks About Algorithms

Results of a Representative Survey

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Date of publication
1. edition
38 pages, Brochure
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Free of charge

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Algorithms determine the advertising we see, make decisions regarding loan grants and university admissions, and suggest suitable partners for us on dating sites. Every day, each of us is affected by decisions that algorithms make for and about us. Yet what do Europeans, in fact, know and think about algorithms? This is the question we’ve taken up in a representative survey with clear results: Europeans have limited knowledge of algorithms.


This survey is one of the first to provide a quantitative, primarily cross-European assessment of attitudes regarding algorithms. As such, it underscores how underserved the European perspective on this issue in public debates has been. Since the EU General Data Privacy Regulation (EU GDPR) has come into effect, it has become apparent that Europe as a whole – not simply national governments – has the real capacity to shape the digital sphere. At the same time, the comparison between the six most populous EU countries shows that there are quite significant differences with regard to knowledge and opinions about algorithms.


This study was produced in cooperation with our colleagues in the Bertelsmann Stiftung’s eupinions project as well as Dalia Research. Further information regarding the methodology underlying the survey can be found in chapter 1 of the study.

Related projects

Cover Ethik der Algorithmen

Von 2017 bis 2022 hat sich das Projekt „Ethik der Algorithmen“ mit den gesellschaftlichen Folgen automatisierter Entscheidungsfindung auseinandergesetzt. Ziel des Projekts war es, den digitalen Wandel stärker in den Dienst der Gesellschaft zu stellen. Das gesellschaftlich Sinnvolle und nicht nur das technisch Mögliche soll dafür Leitbild sein.