Voices Lab


Developing an innovative data collection platform for qualitative and mixed-methods research within the U.S. and globally


The U.S. has well-developed research and data tools for monitoring the physical and mental health of the country, but not for monitoring its social health. We need a new monitoring platform to track and uncover emerging challenges in this arena, such as experiences related to racial and gender conflict and discrimination; social isolation and loneliness; misinformation and toxic and conspiratorial beliefs; meaninglessness and distrust; and social deprivation in its many forms.

CPI’s Voices Lab addresses this need through the American Voices Project (AVP), an innovative new research infrastructure for collecting and analyzing mixed-methods data across diverse research topics. The AVP is the country’s first large-sample, nationally representative, mixed methods data platform that makes it possible to discover what people are thinking, feeling, doing, and experiencing. The core of the AVP’s innovative methodology is long-form immersive conversations with individual respondents that promote trust and authentic sharing about one’s family, work, friends, politics, religion, and everyday experiences. These conversations are then followed up with more conventional survey questions and linked to administrative data (when respondents consent to linkage).

This approach is a useful supplement to data collected through conventional surveys because it uncovers feelings and experiences that survey-designers hadn’t thought to elicit and that survey-takers may not be aware of or willing to disclose on a one-off questionnaire. The AVP also complements conventional qualitative research because it is based on large representative samples, allows for secondary analysis, and thus energizes a new cumulative form of qualitative analysis.

The first round of AVP interviewing, funded by a large consortium of top foundations, was completed in 2022. We are now piloting a new public data analysis and dissemination platform in which qualified researchers apply for access to the AVP data, analyze the deidentified data on a secure server, and then write and release research reports (after disclosure avoidance review to ensure that confidentiality is fully protected). The Russell Sage Foundation is releasing a special volume devoted to this initial round of analyses – and see also this series of AVP-based Crisis Monitoring Reports, focused on Americans' experiences as the COVID-19 pandemic unfolded.

CPI’s Voices Lab is currently building a new and improved version of the AVP to serve as a permanent public-use research platform. We are also supporting an international initiative to build a cross-national immersive interviewing platform. This work is supported by a broad interdisciplinary team of scholars.

Funders of CPI’s work in this area have included the Annie E. Casey Foundation; the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; the Center for Research on Child Wellbeing at Princeton University; the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative; the David and Lucile Packard Foundation; the Federal Reserve Banks of Atlanta, Boston, Cleveland, Dallas, New York, Philadelphia, Richmond, and San Francisco; the Ford Foundation; The James Irvine Foundation; the JPB Foundation; the National Science Foundation; the Pritzker Family Foundation; and the Russell Sage Foundation.

CPI Collaborators

Ann Carpenter's picture Ann Carpenter Assistant Vice President
Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta
Vanessa Coleman's picture Vanessa Coleman Director, Center for Education Research & Innovation
Peter Cookson's picture Peter Cookson Fellow
National Education Policy Center
Kathryn Edin's picture Kathryn Edin William Church Osborn Professor of Sociology and Public Affairs, ROLE The Princeton School of Public and International Affairs, TITLE Director of The Bendheim-Thoman Center for Research on Child Wellbeing (CRCW)
Princeton University
Corey Fields's picture Corey Fields Associate Professor and Idol Family Term Chair
Georgetown University