Professor Fiona Patterson

Professor Fiona Patterson (BSc, MSc, PhD, CPsychol, AcSS, FRSA, FCMI, FRCGP (Hon))

Visiting Professor and Social Sciences Lead for the Interdisciplinary Centre for Creativity in Professional Practice (The Psychology of Creativity and Innovation)

Department of Psychology

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Telephone: +44 1332 295687


Professor Fiona Patterson is a leading expert in the field of assessment, high stakes selection, innovation and change in organisations. She has over 20 years experience of working at a strategic level with a variety of FTSE 100 companies and public sector organisations.

Prior to her posts in academe, she was Head of Organisational Psychology at The Boots Corporation Plc and internal consultant psychologist at Ford Motor Company Limited (Global). These posts led to an interest in research in assessment and she was sponsored by Ford to conduct a PhD in this area at the University of Nottingham. In 1998, Fiona took a lectureship at the University of Nottingham to pursue her research interests. Following this she was promoted to a post at the Institute of Work Psychology, University of Sheffield where she led a research team and was Director for post-graduate programmes.

She was appointed Professor of Organisational Psychology at City University London in 2003 where she established the Organisational Psychology Group, a teaching and research unit, and became Director of Research for the School of Social Sciences. In 2010, she was appointed Principal Researcher in the Psychology Department at the University of Cambridge. She was invited to remain a Visiting Professor at City, acting as the Social Sciences lead for the Interdisciplinary Centre for Creativity in Professional Practice, comprising 7 Schools across the University.

Professor Patterson is Director and founder for the Work Psychology Group Ltd consulting practice, providing research-led advice to public, private and voluntary sector organisations internationally. Fiona publishes widely in assessment, especially in relation to selection, innovation and change in organisations. Over the past 15 years, her research has had a major impact upon governmental and corporate policy in the UK and abroad. In May 2012 Fiona was awarded an Honorary Fellowship by the Royal College of General Practitioners in recognition of her ongoing contribution to the selection process for GP specialty training. In 2013, she won the ASME Silver Quill Award for the highest impact publication in Medical Education, the leading international journal in this field. Also in 2013, she won the annual British Psychological Society's Occupational Psychology Academic Contribution to Practice award.

Selected esteem markers

Advisory roles


Research interests and funding

Fiona's research interests are in the field of assessment, selection and innovation within organisations.  Her research in medical selection began whilst a Lecturer at the University of Nottingham, focusing on GP selection. This became the start of a long-term award winning research programme that has had a major impact on how GPs are now selected internationally. In partnership with the senior figures in the medical community her research has delivered new selection methodologies across the whole spectrum of medicine from medical/dental schools admissions (N=25,000 in the UK every year) through to selection for foundation training (N=8,000 per year) through to specialty recruitment (N=12,000 per year).  Her work in the UK has been adopted internationally and the impact of the research has been fundamental in influencing how doctors and the healthcare professions (including dentistry, veterinary care, etc) are selected and assessed.

Fiona's research and publications have had a major impact on policy and practice, based on robust research evidence. Most recently she delivered a major report on evaluating selection, assessment and education practices in the residential care home sector, following the Winterbourne View and Southern Cross enquiries in the UK. She is now advising Health Education England in recruitment issues for the NHS in light of the Francis report concerning care and compassion in healthcare workers. Fiona is a leading researcher advising on high stakes selection methodology across a range of professions internationally.

Fiona's programme of research in medicine uniquely involves the development of theoretical models of important non-cognitive skills required of doctors (empathy, communication and integrity) and the related design, implementation and validation of assessment methodologies. Supported by her research team, Fiona's activities have provided evidence for the introduction of innovative approaches to selection including situational judgment tests (SJT) and selection centers. These methods have now been adopted by all medical Royal Colleges in the UK (via the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges) and Medical Schools Council. Her research is now being embraced internationally (e.g. Royal College of Surgeons, Australasia; GP Education and Training in Australia, Netherlands, Denmark, USA, Singapore etc). More recently she has been researching issues regarding medical school admissions.

Example research activities and publications include:

Through Fiona's research interests in personality and individual differences, a second stream of research is exploring employee creativity and innovation in organisations. Fiona's research in this area includes:

Over the past 20 years, Fiona has attracted major research funding from a wide variety of sources, indicating her ability to collaborate with organisations and research councils (including the ESRC, EPSRC).  Examples include the Department of Health, Australian government, Royal College of Surgeons, Royal College of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, BUPA, NESTA, BERR, Ford of Europe, Coors Plc, Shell Plc, Royal Bank of Scotland, Home Office, Four Seasons Healthcare, Saint Gobain, National Police Improvement Agency, NHS Education Scotland and Scottish government.  She has a reputation for delivering quality research with high impact dissemination activities that influence policy and practice.

Selected publications

Example Books, Book Chapters and Policy Reports