Invisible Variables: Personal Security Among Vulnerable Populations During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Copyright free unrestricted use

Osman Rana


The Space Enabled research group at the MIT Media Lab is seeking participants for a paid study on the impacts of social distancing policies to the lives of individuals in Greater Boston. This study is called Invisible Variables.  Click here to apply.

We want to learn about the experiences of people during the COVID-19 pandemic: how they live, work, play, and how their lives have been impacted by social distancing.

If your primary source of employment and/or income is in any of the following sectors and you live in Greater Boston, you may  be eligible to participate in the study:

  • if you are an undergraduate or graduate student
  • if you are informally employed (for example, a day laborer, domestic worker, or gig worker)
  • if you are a contract worker (for example, a plumber, electrician, or contractor)
  • if you are an essential worker (for example, a grocery store worker or an MBTA employee)
  • if your work and pay relies heavily on tips (for example, waitstaff or a taxi or rideshare driver)
  • if you live on a fixed income (for example, unemployment, retirement, or disability)

Click here to apply.

We want to learn about how people in Greater Boston are experiencing changes to their personal safety, their financial means, and their personal autonomy during the COVID-19 pandemic. How have social distancing policies affected people's safety at home, or work? How have these policies impacted the amount of autonomy people have in managing their daily lives? How are people in Greater Boston and their families coping with government-mandated social distancing policies?

The study will take place over the course of 2020 and it may continue into 2022. Participants will be compensated $25 for 45-90 minute interviews. Interviews will be conducted over the phone or over a video conferencing platform, such as zoom.

Interviews will ask participants how aspects of their lives such as their housing, employment, finances, healthcare, wellness, and family dynamics have been impacted by social distancing policies.

Participant info

Participation in this study is voluntary. The team will obtain informed consent before collecting data through interviews, internal documents or observation. The informed consent process will communicate the rights of the research subjects and the approaches used by the research team to protect their data and identities. These approaches include the following: no research subject will be quoted without their permission; no internal document will be shared without permission; confidential data will be securely stored using encryption and password protection; data will not be stored longer than is necessary for research purposes; data from individual subjects will be de-identified for storage and analysis. As always, participation by the research subjects is voluntary and may be terminated at any time.

Click here to apply.

Research Topics