Mrs Alexandra Chesterfield

Mrs Alexandra Chesterfield

PhD student

Department of Psychological and Behavioural Science

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Key Expertise
Behavioural science, Cognitive and social psychology, Behavioural risk

About me

PhD Topic: Why and how the value of outsiders erodes

PhD Supervisors:  Dr Tom Reader and Professor Alex Gillespie

Alex is an applied behavioural scientist. She has worked in or founded/led behavioural science teams in the public and private sectors to drive better outcomes.  She has an MSc from UCL in Cognitive and Decision science and is a published author with Penguin Random House of ‘Poles Apart’ - on why people divide and how to bring them back together. The book emerged from Alex and her co-authors’ 'Changed my Mind' podcast and subsequently led to an online course with Cambridge University.

Alex’s PhD research is on why the considerable value of outsiders erodes (and how might you maintain it?).  It starts with the observation that for thousands of years, humans have relied on outsiders to accurately evaluate other individuals, groups or activities, to diagnose problems and improve the status quo. For example: Juries; Boards; Audit; Judges; academic peer review; 360-degree performance evaluations; consultants and regulators. Yet paradoxically, when crisis occurs, outsiders are typically present. But outsiders had either missed the warning signs or had spotted and communicated them, but were ignored. Why?  

Methodologically, Alex is using recent advances in large language models to identify patterns in unstructured data (e.g. large volumes of communication interactions).

Alex has two children and tries to run occasionally.

Expertise Details

Practical application of behavioural science to real-world problems; Cognitive and social psychology; Behavioural risk

My research