Who is this?

I’m Alison MacLeod and I’m a research consultant based in Cambridge, England.  I work all over the UK and can be specially posted to Glasgow to talk to the natives.

A bit about me

I’m a psychologist by background, with a degree and Ph.D in Psychology and more recently an MSc in Occupational and Organizational Psychology.  

The market research part

After my Ph.D I  moved out of academic research into market research.  I started off in Unilever’s fragrance subsidiary, Quest International, as a junior research manager running sensory research.  From there I moved into qualitative research, doing social research at MIL, and classic qualitative research at SRG and Research International.  From this stage of my life, I know more than is really decent about the semiotics of Hula Hoop packaging.

Eventually, I got tired of all the late nights and curly sandwiches, and moved into business and public sector research, eventually managing big quantitative and qualitative projects within Research International’s business-to-business division.

The science part

In 1999 I moved onto the client side as research manager for DuPont.  This pretty much changed my career.   I became fascinated with how the public make sense of science and technology.   Why did certain people distrust the MMR vaccine, for example, when the scientific evidence cleared it of any association with childhood autism?

At the same time, I saw that understanding and reacting to customer and user perceptions could be very difficult for organisations.  I’d already seen this in employee attitude research, but it also held true for marketing communications and new product development.  Companies (and public sector organisations, for that matter) often find it very difficult to understand how their end users think.

The  usability part

I started being interested in website design and communication in the late 90s.  In those days, corporate websites were all about beauty, not effectiveness.   At the same time while conventional organisations were struggling to understand the web, amateur users and small businesses were building sites and applications that really addressed user needs.

While it was hugely instructive to manage research, for me nothing quite beats the buzz of doing it.   So, in 2001 I started a consultancy.  I’ve managed about 90 projects since then, mostly qualitative in nature.    Alongside this, I also completed a Masters in Occupational and Organizational Psychology at Birkbeck College, University of London. 


I work both directly with clients and as a consultant for other agencies.  All the views expressed here are mine and mine alone and shouldn’t be taken as representing the views of any other organisation with which I’ve been associated.


You can email me:

alison [AT] thehumanelement [DOT] co [DOT] uk

Or call:

(44) 1223 569862

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